Friday, February 4, 2011

The Scruffs - Wanna Meet The Scruffs?

Wanna Meet The Scruffs? (1977) ****

If the essential driving force to great rock'n'roll to you can be stated baldly as horny adolescent songs about not getting laid, this is the greatest album of all time.  But of course it's not, merely the greatest (only release in their lifetime, actually) album by the second-best white rock band to crawl out of the mudbars of Memphis, Tennessee in the 1970s.  Not that they display much of a Big Star influence, aside from the crystal blue persuasion guitars that strum and thrum "My Mind," a mid-tempo ballad that's the most professionally polished performance here.  Not that the Scruffs are about professional polish, either; "My Mind," excepted, the band wonderfully live up to their name, delivering scrappy garage pop with puppy-ish ruff'n'tumble.  OK, you can argue for a mild Big Star influence in the way that these Southern boys ape mid-'60s British accents and mod-poppery, but leader Stephen Burns' vocals owe a much heavier debt to Eric Carmen of the Raspberries, and whereas Big Star were a tight-as-clockwork unit, the Scruffs are gloriously sloppy.  Sloppy enough to tilt much of their sound closer to rock than pop, though I'm sure their intention was in the opposite direction; only when Burns forgets to bring a melody on the by-the-boogie-boogers number, "Frozen Girl," (uptight bitches won't put out) does the music falter.  This is the kind of record one of those '60s one-hit Nuggets garage bands would have released if they'd grown up a full decade later and came up with enough material to record an entire album of all good songs.  Did the Knickerbockers ever come up with another song 1/675th as nifty as "Lies"?  Have you ever heard a Knickerbockers album?  (Hint: don't)

The songs all revolve around the same subject:  becoming a rock star as a surefire way to get laid (the awesomely exciting opener, "Break the Ice"), a bitchin' car as a way to get laid ("I've Got a Way"), cruising for co-eds ("This Thursday"), self-explanatory ("She Said Yea"), etc.  When Burns doesn't get laid, it's a "Tragedy," that he must get "Revenge," (and your phone number) for, because that "Frozen Girl," is "No Fun".  He laments that at the ripe old age of 23, "I'm a Failure," bemoaning that, "I can't hope to change the world / I can't even get a girl," and thus the roots of Burns existentialist crisis are spelled out.  Would that all young men were so upfront and honest about what's really bugging them, eh?  Lots of bands pretend that they're raging against the machine when in actuality they're pissed off because they couldn't get past first base with their girlfriend last night.  If girls would just put out more, there would be less angry young men dangerously stalking the streets looking for trouble.  See?  I've solved world problems and outlined a program for world peace, and I'm only half-joking.  Lest you think that Burns & Co. have too much of a one-track mind, he also has a song about a "Tommy Gun".  Unless it's a dick metaphor.  But in any case, it's one of the two songs here that sucks.  I already mentioned the other one - pay attention, willya? 

Now I'm going to wrap up this review and go download some porn and beat off.  This is a great album.  Go get it.

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