Weekly Wire
Memphis Flyer Turn Up That Noise!

MAY 24, 1999: 

KMFDM, Adios, (Wax Trax!)

A word to the wise, a friendly reminder, a handy platitude for lazy-minded and obedient consumers of propaganda: Pop-culture is and always will be responsible for your children's behavior. It's not your fault.

When Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris conducted their horrific affairs in Colorado, Tom Brokaw and every other Tom, Peter, and Dan robotically entreated "us" to reflect upon the notion that certain types of computer games, movies, fast food, and (here's a shocker) rock music might exert an unwelcome influence on our vulnerable youth.

Hey, speak that crap to the enshrined pelvis of Elvis.

Apparently Klebold and Harris appropriated the high-tech industrial stylings of KMFDM in the same misguided manner they misinterpreted the significance of trenchcoats.

So what?! I'll bet more than one screwed-up person wasted an innocent citizen after seeing Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. (This just in: Artists who articulately describe the horrors of this world are not necessarily interested in perpetuating those horrors.)

Adios represents the 10th and final installment from legendary Euro-electro tuffies KMFDM. I'm no KMFDM scholar, but, through the years, I've heard perhaps half their output. I think that more or less qualifies me to express the opinion that this newest and last CD is well worth the "dead presidents" (taking for granted that the reader knows which way is up and still gives a damn as goes industrial music, an aging-but-viable aural art form).

The typical KMFDM supercharged audio is here enhanced by appreciable degrees, thanks to guest appearances by industrial pioneer Orge (of Skinny Puppy) and the forever-dangerous Nina Hagen.

You either subscribe to industrial or else. I won't deny that industrial lyrics can, occasionally, get almost as Goth-silly as those of its retarded cousin/father heavy metal (someone call Human Services!). I don't know, I guess it's a "guilty pleasure" thing. -- Stephen Grimstead


A.C. Reed, Junk Food (Delmark)

Old blues sidemen rarely fade away, as the more talented among them eventually front their own bands. Such is the case with saxophone slinger and ace session man A.C. Reed, who honed his chops for nearly six decades with such blues giants as Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, and the late Albert Collins before putting out his own shingle.

Although Reed waited a long time to move to center stage, he's certainly got the goods to back it up. On his latest solo release, Junk Food, he serves up a mighty mess of tasty, hot blues, steeped in the Chicago tradition. Reed likes to stir up the pot with some topical songs, witness tongue-in-cheek efforts like "The President Plays" (with the classic line, "He's a good president 'cause he plays the saxophone"), "Give It Up (Smoking)," and the title cut, a lively lament on the "Junk Food" along the rough and rocky road.

Reed isn't exactly blessed with a virtuoso blues voice, but what he lacks in power, he more than makes up for in character and conviction.

What distinguishes Reed from the other blues stalwarts elevated to star status is his sly humor coupled with a rock-solid grasp of the essentials of entertaining an audience. Reed keeps chugging on down the line, and he's been at it long enough to know that the greatest sin a performer can commit is to be boring. Reed refuses to lapse into the same old tired groove, and his energy keeps Junk Food lively throughout its 53-and-a-half-minute running time.

Like all good blues, Reed's particular brand is a healthy mix of political incorrectness spiced with sexual tension and topical references, punctuated by his horn and a group interplay among musicians almost as talented as Reed himself (particularly underrated guitarist Sammy Fender). On "Last Time Around," the final cut on Junk Food, Reed runs through the litany of offenses a lifelong bluesman endures (mainly a dearth of finances) and claims that he's "gotta put it down." Having just celebrated his 73rd birthday, however, one gets the feeling Reed will keep on playing until rigor mortis sets in. Junk Food adds yet another chapter to Reed's distinguished blues history, one worth returning to again and again. -- David D. Duncan


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