I saw this short-lived supergroup at the Knitting Factory (RIP) in Hollywood back in “the day.” Surprisingly, I was one of only a handful of people in attendance (including a leather jacket-yielding Bill Rieflin). Seeing a post-Ministry Paul Barker play with Tomahawk and The Jesus Lizard guitarist Duane Denison in what appeared to be little more than a gig practice was mind-blowing. An intimate experience such as this was 1) not expected, and 2) one that I’ll never have the pleasure of witnessing again. Unfortunately, the band only released the one studio album (in compact disc form only, no less) with 2007’s The Spoils on Fuzz Records. It’s worth seeking out, if you’re into the whole aggressive, industrial-alt-rock thing, which if you aren’t, it stands to reason that you should be questioning everything you ever thought you knew.
It’s not entirely difficult to consider this Seattle-based foursome adequate participants of the late 70s, early 80s sewer-like wave of repressed energy, known today as punk, or as my Mother likes to call it, “the Devil’s music.” Missing, or rather, subdued is the raw, misguided anger found in Los Angeles and San Francisco based punk acts of the time. In its place resides the mature, but no less angry, rhythmically brilliant 1/3 new wave, 1/3 minimalist indie-rock, and 1/3 punk-influenced musicianship that somehow gets lost amongst the 33-year-old haze that was 1980.
Blackouts (here losing the The… on a side note and completing having nothing to do with this post, do you remember The The?) consisted of future RevCo, Ministry, R.E.M. (you read that right), Pigface, KMFDM (to name only a few) drummer Bill Rieflin, Roland Barker (brother of Revco, Ministry, Lead into Gold, Lard, PTP, Acid Horse, U.S.S.A. bassist Paul Barker… who would join this band immediately following the release of this EP), as well as Erich Werner and Mike Davidson, of whom I know virtually nothing about. Phew! That’s a lot of band-name dropping there, but you can begin to see the overall scope of this band’s, and subsequently, this EP’s brilliance. Or, maybe you can’t and you’d much prefer the screeching yelps of Katy Perry, or God forbid, Madonna! Either way, this 4-track EP comes highly recommended and should prove for an interesting listen if nothing else.
There is a distinct level of sophistication found throughout the three tracks on Revolting Cocks’ debut 12” No Devotion that is only hinted at on Ministry releases from the same label (Wax Trax! Records) in the same year (1985). There is something much more nefarious and menacing here than say, Everyday (Is Halloween), or even Over the Shoulder (both Ministry releases, and both released in 1985). The Nature of Love (again, Ministry… you can see where my head has been lately) comes close, but is lacking that fiendish push into classic industrial / EBM territory. Perhaps No Devotion, with its three tracks clocking in at 22 minutes, benefits largely due to the fact that RevCo, at this time, was a bit of a Wax Trax! Records supergroup. Consisting of Front 242 head, Richard 23 and Luc Van Acker (surprisingly, Alain Jourgensen is isolated as Producer and not an official Cock), this preliminary incarnation of the ever-evolving band would only release one other record as a three piece, their first full length, 1986’s Big Sexy Land. After that, Richard 23 left, and Ministry mainstays Bill Rieflin, Paul Barker and Chris Connelly became official Cocks. The band would change again in 1993, then yet again in 2006, but that’s a topic for another time.
Every once in a blue moon I’ll get trapped amongst the early Wax Trax! Records releases, which usually leaves me with a raging headache and the smell of whiskey on my breath, but every time I’m more than happy to welcome the comfort of anger and disgust that inevitably comes along with some of the pinnacle releases of the industrial movement.