Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Litter - Emerge

This 1969 album by Minneapolis garage rockers (their Pebbles classic “Action Woman” has been covered innumerable times) turned hard-rockers is a masterpiece of intensity and guitar-centric wildness! Drummer Tom Murray has a great sound and his attack drives the group right from the start. Lead guitarist Ray Melina lets riffs fly right and left with plenty of noise and feedback while rhythm guitarist Dan Rinaldi and bassist Jim Kane hold down the fort, letting vocalist Mark Gallagher cut loose on top of it all.

Starting, appropriately enough, with “Journeys”, a wall of feedback builds as Murray does his best Keith Moon imitation and Melina blasts out licks while the band churns with a hi-energy toughness. More perfect guitar and drumming opens up “Feeling” and never lets up as Gallagher does his best to scream and shout over the madness. This is a showcase for Melina and he practically can’t stop himself from throwing out more cool lines throughout the entire song.

Giving us moment to breath, they slow down for the quiet, melodic, jazzy blues of “Silly People”. This has several sections and was certainly influenced by jazz-pop such as Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five”. But, they can’t hold back for long and soon enough, Ray explodes again with a wild solo before they bring it all down again. Back with a powerful incessant beat in “Blue Ice”, they add some menacing sounding minor chords which allows Gallagher to sing out like Arthur Brown and shriek to introduce more terrific guitar playing.

Showing their originality in their covers, “For What It’s Worth” moves from slow, quiet verses to almost out-of-control chugging choruses. Everyone gets to show off on this one, from more distorted, sustained guitar work to nice vocals harmonies to a perfect Ian Gillian-like scream! Side two of the album begins with an equally unique “Little Red Book” that removes the identifying riff and adds huge power chords. Cool and different!

A melodic piece of psych-pop, “Breakfast at Gardenson’s” is a fine example of this style – not quite as crazed as their other numbers, but far from wimpy with nice singing and playing.

Their musical odyssey, “Future of the Past” closes the album with a multi-sectioned number which moves from quiet to insanely loud and then allows drum-master Murray to perform a solo. Yes, drum solos are always a bad idea and generally boring as hell, but Tom is just so damn good that it keeps your interest and doesn’t make you jump up and eject the record!

This is another link between garage, psych, hard rock and heavy metal, but a damn fuckin’ great example of it all with an almost Detroit-styled intensity to the playing. If you’re not a stick-in-the-mud revisionist who has to fit everything into a neat, little category and you wanna hear another example of the beginning of punk’n’roll not dissimilar to Blue Cheer, this is a classic!