Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sister Double Happiness

I’m always surprised by the bands that I have not yet talked about on this blog. Sister Double Happiness blew me away when I first saw them in the late 80’s/early 90’s in LA and this record is a great document of this band. Formed by ex-Dicks members Gary Floyd (vocals) and Lynn Perko (drummer extraordinaire), this SF-based power-blues group fused politics and humor with hard rock, blues & punk to make a unique and wonderful combination.

Opening with Floyd’s terrific, melodic, soulful voice, the band smashes into their theme song, a politic polemic about communist Chinese workers that is frantic and furious and includes several changes, showing just how tight this group could be. Following this is the intense, hi-energy blues-rock of “Freight Train”, telling of the rejection of someone diagnosed with AIDs. Guitarist Ben Cohen shines here, as well – a wild and amazing player.

Pulling back just slightly for “Let Me In”, a slower but no less fierce bluesy number with plenty of great playing from the entire band. More modern blues in “Cry Like a Baby” that alternates slower sections with massive power-chord infused wildness, again highlighting their use of dynamics.

Adding another dimension to their sound, a cello contributes to the emotionalism of “On the Beach”, one of their most ferocious and potent tunes. Cohen again soars with his feedback-laden solo and Floyd is unimaginably fervent as he screams “why is this happening to me”.

They needed to lighten things up a little after that, and so they cover the blues tune “Poodle Dog” (“I want to play with your poodle”). Opening with just Cohen and Floyd, they are fun and funny and when the rest of the band blasts in, the power is overwhelming. But they return to politics for “It’s Our Life”, a tough rocker with more excellent guitar work and a memorable chorus.

“I Tried” is a slow, minor key number, well written and powerfully played. Back to the high energy for the almost punk/funk of “Sweet Talker”, accented with cool backing vocals over the sing-along chorus and heavy slide playing. Pure blues with strong guitar and pounding rhythm come together for the excellently titled “Get Drunk and Die”.

An album highlight that they had enough faith in to re-record it on at least one other record is the group-vocal dominated “You Don’t Know Me”. A simple, repetitive chord progression is the basis for a great melody, a superb guitar solo, plenty of dynamic work, a chorus that demands that you join in, and a wild rave up guitar/vocal ending.

This record is highly recommended to anyone who digs hi-energy blues/rock/punk’n’roll!