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the pathetic caverns - music by various artist - The Rocky Horror Punk Rock Show

eclectic reviews and opinions

Various Artists

The Rocky Horror Punk Rock Show

(Springman 2003)

I thought this sounded like a great idea. It's a punk rock version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack anchored by some "name" bands, like The Ataris, Alkaline Trio, and Pansy Division.

There's some good mix-tape fodder here, and maybe I'd like it better if I hadn't had high expectations, but it's not a solid listen throughout. The real problem is that with a few exceptions, once you separate the songs from the campy visuals and gooey over-the-top delivery and arrangements of the original versions, they really aren't all that good. Unfortunately, even some of the strongest tunes get fairly lackluster treatments here.

Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies get things off to a strong start with a crunchy "Science Fiction/Double Feature" -- not very imaginative, but it rocks along nicely. But the Groovie Ghoulies's Ramonesy rendition of the all-important "Time Warp" pushes Kepi's nasal and colorless vocals up too far -- it doesn't groove like the movie version and it doesn't rock hard enough to compensate. The Phenomenauts bravely try to re-imagine Meatloaf's "Hot Patootie -- Bless My Soul," grafting a loud/soft verse/chorus and a "Hava Na Gila"-style speed-up onto it -- but it's stiff, with none of the swagger of the original. The mix is also really trebly. Homocore pioneers Pansy Division turn in a jokey (half-spoken word) "I Can Make You a Man," and Jeanette of the Chubbies does a comparatively straight (in a hiccupy Divinyls sort of way) "Touch-a, Touch-a Touch Me." I can't help thinking reversing their cover choices and approaches would've been more interesting (not to mention more true to the flick's gender-bending spirit).

Still, there are bright spots: Alkaline Trio's simultaneously overblown and ramshackle version of "Over at the Frankenstein Place" works even though it seems like shouldn't. "Eddie's Teddy" is perfect for trad punks Swingin' Utters. Gametime's "Wild and Untamed Thing" is swell -- maybe the best thing on the disc -- shifting tempo and mood from punk-pop to hardcore to power-pop, with sharp guitar work and cool stacked harmony vocals. Ruth's Hat walk a fine line between spooky and rocking on "Super Heroes." And the Ataris strike an appropriate ending note of melancholy on "Science Fiction Double Feature (Reprise)," with slightly unsteady acoustic guitars and telephone-style vocals.

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