Friday, May 8, 2020

Archive Review: Various Artists - Sucking The 70’s (2003)

Sucking The 70's
It’s a pretty cool concept, really – take a bunch of bands that you’ve probably never heard of and have them revisit classic schlock rock of the hallowed 1970s. That is the premise behind Sucking The 70’s, the most offbeat tribute disc of the past year and, without a doubt, more fun than a listener should be allowed to have. The set offers 35 songs stretched across two discs with detailed liner notes providing info on the original artist, the band actually kicking out the jams, and web site info for the cyber-inclined. As me dear old grandpappy used to say, “it don’t mean squat if it ain’t in the grooves” and the Reverend is glad to inform both of his readers that Sucking The 70’s delivers the hot-n-greasy cheap thrills that we all crave.

Sucking The 70’s

Since some of the bands on Sucking The 70’s are so obscure that not even their mothers have heard them play, we’ll outline the usual suspects for you first. Raging Slab punch out an acceptable reading of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An American Band” while Clutch manhandle Jethro Tull’s “Cross Eyed Mary” with gleeful recklessness. The Last Vegas do a fine job with Ted Nugent’s “Free For All” and the members of Five Horse Johnson have obviously listened closely to their Mountain albums, hitting the band’s “Never In My Life” almost lick for lick. Alabama Thunderpussy – a band actually recommended to the Reverend by one of his many email correspondents – manage to grab onto Tull’s “Hymn 43” with both hands, ripping through the magnificent bastard like a grizzly with a fresh salmon.

On the other hand, you also have a bunch of minor league riff merchants on Sucking The 70’s that are itching to play with the big boys and are using this forum to make their case for indie rock stardom. The Glasspack slice-and-dice the Stooges’ “T.V. Eye” with such style that even Iggy would have to smile while Throttlerod lay the smackdown on Leadbelly via Ram Jam’s “Black Betty.” You can almost hear the kudzu growing during Tummler’s performance of Skynyrd’s “Working For MCA” and Fireball Ministry brings the hard rock shuffle back with UFO’s “Doctor Doctor.” Puny Human pulls off a neat hat trick, rolling through CCR’s “Travelin’ Band” and, just as the band is hitting on all cylinders, roaring into overdrive with a Ramones tribute and big finish.

An International Affair

Sucking The 70’s is a truly international affair, the album’s crackerjack production team bringing some import bands to the table to lively things up. U.K. band the Heads turn “For Madmen Only” on its...well, head, with blazing psychedelic guitars and more fuzz than a cat-scratch sweater. Australia’s Warped tackle AC/DC’s “Dog Eat Dog” with a raw fury and Argentina’s Los Natas take Hawkwind’s “Brainstorm” on a trip over, under and upside down. Sweden is represented by no less than three bands, Backdraft the most notable with a scorching cover of Whitesnake’s “Child of Babylon.”

Some of the album’s contributors wanted to show the depth of their rock ‘n’ roll knowledge, choosing obscurity over familiarity in their selection of songs. In this one-step-from-the-glue-factory horse race, the Reverend would have to go with Broadsword’s power-sludge cover of Sir Lord Baltimore’s “Woman Tamer” as the winner, a musty, metallic blast from the past that only one out of a thousand listeners would nail without an encyclopedia. Scott Reeder’s choice of Sugarloaf’s “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You” wins the one-hit wonder award with Roadsaw’s axe-happy reading of “Vehicle” the runner-up. Kudos also to Novadriver for the band’s choice of T Rex’s “20th Century Boy” and to Milligan for its appropriately thorazine-drenched reading of those Cactus boy’s Link Wray knock-off “Rumblin’ Man.”

The Reverend’s Bottom Line

ZZ Top, the Marshall Tucker Band, Rush, Barnstorm (Joe Walsh), Neil Young, Black Sabbath, and Steppenwolf are among the other stars of the decade revisited on Sucking The 70’s. One has to wonder where covers of “Stairway To Heaven,” “Freebird,” and “Angie” are hiding (all three are noticeable by their absence). Regardless, Sucking The 70’s is a solid collection of righteous tunes – surely the ‘70s couldn’t have sucked that badly with rock ‘n’ roll this tasty. (Small Stone Records, released October 22, 2002)

Review originally published by Alt.Culture.Guide™, 2003

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