Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Mentally Ill "Gacy's Place," “Strike the Bottom Red”

(Autisitic/Last LaughFor Chicago punk fans these are two of the most exciting releases since the days when both Bozo and Pogo were making local clown history. The “Gacy’s Place” EP is a faithful reproduction of Chicago's most notorious and mysterious punk record…and is a gift to the world. As former Chicago Reader editor Allison True has recently devoted her skills to re-opening the John Wayne Gacy murder case by discovering unidentified victims, and as Michelle Bachman lost the 2012 presidential race because she didn't know the difference between John Wayne and John Wayne Gacy, let's all remember a time when Chicagoland's clownish serial killer not only shocked and terrified a nation, but also inspired some fine music. OK, the only two songs I can think of about him were a terrible Steve Dahl parody record based on "Another Brick in the Wall" (which I remember as being "Another Fag in the Cement," but that can't be right, can it? Just looked it was called "Another Kid in the Crawl," which ain't much classier), and this one. Mentally Ill, because of this weird, wonderful, eerie, bizarre, mentally ill sounding record, became the most revered and infamous punk band in Chicago without anyone actually knowing who they were or seeing them play. Around the turn of this century they reemerged, releasing archival material on Alternative Tentacles and recording new material with Steve Albini, which they sort of self-released (good luck finding it).  Amazingly, they remained just as mysterious even after they began playing out. Were they secret millionaires who flew around the country playing depraved punk rock (kinda rock n roll Batmans), or were they actually mental patients who waited decades to reveal their lunacy? Who knows and who cares? I am just glad to get a copy of this amazing 3 song Rorschach test for under $200! And I’m equally glad to get a vinyl (red vinyl at that) version of their 1999 Albini recordings, which only occasionally submit to Albini’s heavy thumbprint. For the most part these are strange, almost catchy tunes (more accessible, though not less demented, than most of the bizarre material that filled out the Alternative Tentacles compilation). Though most songs are abrasive, deviant odes to alternative sexcapades (involving mayonnaise, bondage wear, bugs, pets, and non-money shot bodily fluids) it’s pretty amazing how toe-tapping these tunes are. In fact, they played two of them on our children’s chow, Chic-A-Go-Go, and the backcover includes a photo montage of them terrorizing children! There’s even a Modern Lovers cover, just to add to the confusion. You need these records!

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