REDD KROSS: Neurotica: CD

Today i am officially old: I am now receiving promo CD reissues of albums to review that i received promo vinyl versions of to review fifteen years ago. This record was originally released in 1987, during my two-year stint as a college radio DJ (before the men with the walkie-talkies and pistols escorted me from the premises) on the ill-fated Bigtime™ record label, who went belly-up soon afterwards, thusly allegedly rendering said album somewhat difficult to capture. I wouldn’t know; at least at WGBW, this thing was the darling of the “College Rock” set (sort of a precursor to “alternative,” i guess, with R.E.M. as the spiritual point guard – take from that what you will), and overplayed (especially “Play My Song,” yecch) to the point of near-absurdity both on the air and at parties, to the extent where it was so ubiquitous for a time that i to this day have a hard time believing it ever became difficult to find used vinyl copies on the cheap, ever. Anyway, inasmuch as this reissue seems to be accruing at least moderate buzz as the “great, lost” Redd Kross album (that YOU, who might have missed it the first go-round, must acquire immediately or court certain lack of status amongst your more knowledgeable peers), allow me to weigh in on the subject: Not only do i NOT consider Neurotica to be particularly “lost,” i also don’t think it’s that “great” either. I mean, i’ll cop to playing “Frosted Flake” on my radio show with some regularity for a while (occasionally reprising same with “Peach Kelli Pop” or “Janus, Jeanie & George Harrison” if i was in a particularly pro-Redd Kross mood that night), but, for the most part, i thought this seeming bulwark of punky psych-pop – recorded at the intersection of Brady Bunch Boulevard and the Charles Manson Freeway – was just a gateway record (drug?), the thing that signaled to me that hey, these guys might actually be able to pull off something REALLY GREAT in their post-first-EP period AFTER all – the record that bridged the credibility gap between the “i could care less what that band does these days” state i’d been in since 1982’s Born Innocent (my review of which earned me my first ever real Hate Letter, signed by the band and kept in my desk to this day), and my prostrating myself before their one TRUE masterpiece, 1990’s Bubblegum Factory CD (the succeeding Switchblade Sister EP and the Phaseshifter album are also quite worthy). In short: THIS RECORD AIN’T THAT GREAT. This point is rendered moot by the fact that, even if i was as big a fan of this album as many of my peers were, i’d have to insist you steer the fuck clear of this CD: The aggravating sonic thinness that was always part of the record (thanks to production by, of all unlikely villains, Tommy Ramone??!) has been aggravated to aggravatingly aggravating new heights of aggravation in the transfer to digital; that is to say, IF YOU’RE GOING TO BUY THIS RECORD, GO FIND AN OLD VINYL COPY. THIS CD SOUNDS LIKE SHIT. The crackly ultra-treble (the hi-hats in particular) renders this version practically unlistenable, as far as i’m concerned. On the vinyl, there’s enough Shake-Yo’-Booty-ism left in the bass groove that the title track still sounds a bit like “Taxman,” as i’m sure was the intent; that’s not the case with the CD – further, on the vinyl, the sitar (or guitar-which-sounds-like-a-sitar) solo in “Play My Song” actually still sounds passably sitar-like; again, not the case on the CD. Etc. What a drag it AIN’T gettin’ old! BEST SONG: “Frosted Flake” BEST SONG TITLE: “Ghandi Is Dead (I’m the Cartoon Man)” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Excerpts from 1982 Red Cross hate letter, verbatim: “You’d sound pschycadelic too if you recorded on 10 hits of acid (and that’s just the engineer). As a matter of fact, we’re on Angel Dust right NOW!!! doesn’t that make you sick? Well tough shit you little hardore turd! I bet you’re bald!” and “My favorite drug is Angel Dust it’s got for you it helps you be creative. Im on it right now HA HA HA dont you wish you had some dildoe” and, finally “We hate you shit head.” Right on, man.

 –norb (Five Foot Two/Oglio)