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By Stewart Mason

MARCH 1, 1999: 

The Eyeliners "Rock and Roll Baby" b/w "Bad Attitude" (Sympathy for the Record Industry)

Lisa, Laura and Gel's new 7-inch is their finest work yet, possibly one of the best singles by a Burque band ever. Produced by power pop god Earle Mankey (Sparks, Three O'Clock), both songs show the sisters moving beyond the limitations of their earlier, punkier releases into a garage-pop territory more akin to a point between the first Undertones album and the Nuggets box. The sound is notably improved (for the first time, you can actually hear Lisa's bass) and the performances are superb, balancing on that knife-edge between tight sophistication and inspired chaos.

However, it's the songs that truly rate. "Rock and Roll Baby" simply kills, with the sisters chirping their most memorable chorus over a clean but buzzy melody. "Bad Attitude" is righteously sloppy and pointedly precise, saying all it needs to in barely over a minute-and-a-half of snotty pop-punk not unlike the Pandoras before they turned into a bad metal band. Extra points due to Vince Ray for his exceptional comic-book artwork. You need this single, so just put down the newspaper and go buy the damn thing already. ¡¡¡¡¡

Bruce Haack The Electric Lucifer (of dubious origin)

Bruce Haack's 1970 electronic LP The Electric Lucifer, long adored by psychedelia and fringe-pop fans, is newly available on vinyl. The LP claims to be a Columbia release, but the smudged, amateurish label suggests otherwise. However, given the impressive fidelity and obvious use of original cover slicks, it's quite possible that Haack or someone close to him pressed this.

Canadian-born Haack, who recorded several very odd, all-electronic children's records in the '60s with Laurie Anderson-soundalike Esther Nelson, seems to have found God and/or acid at some point. As carefully explained in the liner notes, The Electric Lucifer is a Biblically-derived song cycle meant "to help end war and hate and pain and fear." While parts of the album strongly resemble Haack's children's music, others (particularly the chant-like "Song of the Death Machine") bizarrely resemble the lyrical side of the Fugs, and still others (like "Incantation" and the bouncy opener "Electric to Me Turn") are weirdly catchy electronic bubblegum.

Singers Tony Taylor, Chris Kachulis and Jon St. John have great '60s-bubblegum voices, which makes the allegorical lyrics of songs like "Cherubic Hymn" sound even more bizarre than they might have. Haack's electronics and tape manipulations sound considerably less primitive than those of his contemporaries, even Wendy Carlos or Beaver and Krause, meaning that even without the bizarre lyrical content or pop leanings, the album would be of strong interest to any fans of early electronic music. As it is, The Electric Lucifer is a psych-pop masterpiece highly recommended to all pop fans with a taste for the unusual. ¡¡¡¡¡

Pee Shy Don't Get Too Comfortable (Mercury)

Between Pee Shy and Myracle Brah, it's a good time for great pop bands with really dumb names. The Tampa-based, three-quarters-female quartet's real-world lyrics like "Cool tile of the bathroom floor/I don't feel sick anymore" suggest a grounding in everyday life combined with the general uneasiness implied in the album title, making for one of those rare pop albums that's at least as interesting for the words as it is for the melodies.

Luckily, the melodies are also stellar. Producer Brad Jones (Cotton Mather, Jill Sobule, his own excellent solo album Gilt-Flake) provides a much more varied palette than the band's somewhat monochromatic debut, Who Let All the Monkeys Out?. Accordion, clarinet, vibes, children's toys and percussion instruments galore add depth and texture to the already-impressive complex three-part harmonies, resulting in perfect pop gems like "Mr. Whisper" and the near-psychedelic "Some Day Soon."

Ironically, given the album title, Pee Shy are about to be dropped by Mercury as part of the huge artist purge (110 of the 140 acts on the roster!) occasioned by the takeover of the label's parent company by the huge-but-moronic Seagrams conglomerate. Hurry, before this album disappears in the shuffle. ¡¡¡¡

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