Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Rubber City Rebels [extended]

  • From Akron [Clone, 1977] A-
  • Rubber City Rebels [Capitol, 1980] B
  • Pierce My Brain [Smog Veil, 2003] Choice Cuts

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Bizarros/Rubber City Rebels: From Akron [Clone, 1977]
There's been a Lou Reed enclave around Cleveland since the late-Velvets days, and recently it's begun to produce musicians; maybe the real reason the Dead Boys left for New York was to avoid comparison with bands as smart as Devo and Pere Ubu. Even so, a self-produced album showcasing ten good songs is a pleasant shock. The Bizarros' deliberate discordances (including viola, lest we forget John Cale) are carried forward on surefire junk-rock riffs; mastermind Nick Nicholis has the hang of Lou's deadpan songspeech, although some of his mannerisms are otiose and the promising lyrics aren't worked as fine as they must be to sound natural. The stoopider approach of the Rubber City Rebels--"Gotta get a brain job/Gotta get it now/Gotta get a brain job/But I don't know how"--proves more foolproof. Alice Cooper sang about dead babies, these guys claim to eat them. The album seems to be in mono, with sound presence worthy of Andy Warhol, but it hasn't quit on me yet. A-

Rubber City Rebels [Capitol, 1980]
When it comes to El Lay punk, you take the sun-addled Germs and Circle Jerks and Dickies and leave me these stagestruck outlanders, Doug Fieger production and all. At least they understand what being phony means. "Young and Dumb" doesn't replace From Akron's definitive "Brain Job" because it's not about the Rebs. But anybody who can link the hallowed anomie of (the Pistols') "No Feelings" to the cartoon cannibalism of (the Rebs') "Child Eaters" deserves to tour with the Psychedelic Furs. B

Pierce My Brain [Smog Veil, 2003]
"Your Warlord Is a Pussy," "I Don't Wanna Be a Punk No More" Choice Cuts

See Also