CRIME: Exalted Masters: LP

Crime were pioneers in San Francisco—playing the lowest-fucking-fi rock’n’roll the West Coast ever heard; a sound so sordid only the Electric Eels could compare. Crime were nefarious, witless bastards too, playing the infamous San Quentin prison in cop uniforms (Jesus!). Needless to say, these actions do not represent an algorithm for longevity, and, after only a handful of singles, Crime was dissolved. After their breakup in the early ‘80s, Crime’s cult grew. Crime’s influence on bands past and present is immeasurable—simply put, anyone name checking The Oblivians or the Wipers needs to go back to Crime for the source. Exalted Masters is the new LP by Crime. It’s mainly a collection of unrecorded Crime songs from the late ‘70s, finally recorded in 2007. Unfortunately, I don’t like it. Much of Crime’s listening pleasure comes from the lo-fi recordings and undoubtedly acrimonious circumstances a band with no real antecedents—no tenuous links for people to contextualize this new sound—must have felt in 1976. Exalted Masters sounds good. Crime’s earlier recordings don’t. And for a band whose sound relied on hate—an almost Hugo Ball-like negation of the zeitgeist of the mid ‘70s—Exalted Masters sounds weak, polished, and unimportant—everything Crime wasn’t in the late ‘70s. There is one redeeming quality to Exalted Masters. Vocalist Johnny Strike includes a passage from his upcoming book on this LP. I like it. The track has a Stan Ridgway-like feel to it, indebted to writers like Raymond Chandler and Jim Thompson. Unlike Crime’s undoubtedly upcoming records, I look forward to Strike’s upcoming publication.

 –ryan (www.crimesf.com)