Note: The reason Sputnik lists the album as having 28 songs is that the track list is taken from the 2003 reissue of the album, then retitled then Dirty Rotten CD
You might have heard of this here "D.R.I." band from somewhere, maybe your hardcore or metal loving friends have name dropped them, or maybe you've seen their logo. Its a very signature and career spanning visual, a man caught in seemingly mid-skank is D.R.I. a ska band then? Maybe the full name of the band "Dirty Rotten Imbeciles" would make you think more along the lines of oi or street punk band. Well whatever expectations you have established you can pretty much shove em since at the time the concept of sub-minute songs on 20+ tune albums was expected by about no one. Sure Minor Threat gets all the credit for staying sober and being the band in the D.C. scene, but the west coast itself had it's own identity; one progressed by the hardcore stylings of D.R.I. who in 1984 began their hardcore/punk years after relocating to San Francisco.
In the time it took you to read this sentence, 2 D.R.I. songs could have played fully, now that's saying something. With hardcore at the time people were used to slightly sped up verses and bridges, calling for more out of the instrument section, but HOLY FU
CK! does singer Kurt Brecht drop loads of dynamite on the listener per song or what!? Yes he does, and not only are the words he deliver strong in content and thought out passages ("I want to help America keep the peace/I want to be a trooper in the world police/Draft Me"
), but the speed which he spits out these lines is nothing to be messed with. "Closet Punk"
which probably went on to influence Anal Cunt
with its playful badmouthing of a certain group, in this case "punks ("If your mom only knew that you wear bandannas and boots/Or that you traded your tennis racket/for a camouflage jacket/Those wrap around glasses make you look like a faggot"
). Rough words but the focus here is on the delivery, Closet Punk
is 32 seconds, it also has 4 full verses and a chorus. I'd do the math and say how much time is spend on each verse but I'm still mind boggled by how any other instrument not being sung into can fit in. It must be noted that Kurt Brecht is not Jeff Buckley
, and as such his voice is not beautiful, he does not have a multiple octave spanning voice, if anything he works it with it in the constant key of loud yelling.
Though its not such a hard equation, Spike Cassidy can play and dispel the myth of hardcore guitarists making songs that any 13 year old can play. Power chords and simple repeated lines are looked down upon and are not the centerpiece behind the guitar work. Even if the only memorable bursts on one song are minimal, such as the pull off and hammer on parts of Running Around
, they are still there and call attention to the guitar. Not that the rhythm section is that much unimportant, but, it is. Being on the other side of signature and longstanding members Cassidy and Brecht is already tough enough, being Kurt's own brother Eric and drumming in the same band as he but without the underground acclaim must be hellish. Still the drums and bass go along with everything else being played on this album; they are fast and loud with an occasional bit of slop too.
The thing about that album which is the blessing and curse, is that one listen will produce feelings of resentment and "I just wasted 23 minutes" more often than not. The Dirty Rotten LP isn't built for the first listen to entrance most casual listeners, in fact it can sound like a bunch of noise (but so can anything really). Once the first 10 or 20 listens are in the books the songs begin to have different and distinctive qualities: the repeated lyrics of Reaganomics
("Reaganomics killing me!/Reaganomics killing you!
"), the way "Sad To Be"
uses a mid song guitar and drum jam and song placement to be the sonic intermission between acts, or the complete change of pace that comes with the light guitar intro to "Blockhead
" all represent the originality and effort put forth on this work. Indeed existing as 28 individual songs and less than 1 extended burst of noise does the LP.
Its not hard to make short songs and put them on an album, nor is it difficult to scream into a mic randomly or noodle on a guitar; but can you do these things while being focused and carving out a real work and not a wankfest. The LP (which was first an EP in 1982) does all that and does it very masterfully; though the band would eventually change members and genres, they are still remembered for their debut shot at hardcore. If you like it loud with inaudible lyrics and the feeling of being hit by a 2 ton stick of dynamite, this is for you.