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Geraldine's Pure Bastard Rock

By Phil Morehart · August 16th, 2001 · CD of the Week
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It's 2 a.m. and I've got a nasty drunk on. One of those drunks where you just don't know what to do with yourself. A bit of stumbling, yelling, dizziness and anger will be my best friends for the remainder of the evening. And Pure Bastard Rock, the debut album from Athens, Ohio quartet Geraldine, is the soundtrack.

This album is punk drunk. It's angry. It's got a mean case of the blues, also. I'm not talking about Eric Clapton's blues or anything else produced by some white boy from across the Atlantic. I'm talking about the blues that you get when you're piss drunk and finally realizing that she's never coming back. And she took your beer. Those blues. And they're loud, fast, obnoxious and fierce, just like this album.

Geraldine has become a force to be reckoned with in the darkest bars and music clubs in the black heart of it all that is Ohio. After releasing a number of seven inches on Anyway Records based out of Columbus, Geraldine have finally reached full potential on Pure Bastard Rock, their first full length album on San Diego's haven for garage rock, Orange Recordings.

Unlike many of their contemporaries in the Garage Rock scene that wear their musical influences on their sleeve like a badge of honor, Geraldine is the full sum of these influences. The Kinks, Stooges, Elmore James, MC5, Black Flag, Howlin' Wolf and the Stones are trapped inside these songs somewhere, but trapped deep enough that they're felt and not heard. This is a punk album. A blues album. A garage album. A Rawk album.

The album opener, "When The Rooster Crows," is a wallop. A solid groove dominates the song and Geraldine rides it like a bull. By the song's end, the entire band is a tornado of sound and crunch.

The next track, "Come On Down ," continues immediately where its predecessor left off: down and dirty, loud and nasty. Singer Matt Harvey gives this number its punch with some exemplary harmonica work. At just under the two-minute mark, this track is one of the stand-outs on the album.

A Geraldine performance is a thing to behold. Chaos, revelry and extremely tight musicianship are a few of the many things that you'll see grace the stage. This album is an excellent representation of such an event, and "Worried Blues," "Bogged Down in America" and "Shoulda Known" are fine examples.

Maceo Gabbard's drumming brings to mind a young Keith Moon, providing the backbone for Scott Winland's fluid bass work and Chris Burget's heavy guitar. Top this all off with the distorted screaming and harp of vocalist Harvey and you can feel the sweat on these songs.

While being able to rock the shit out of a boulder is fine enough for Geraldine, they also show that they can bring the house down in a back-of-the-field, late-night, smoky juke-joint way. "Scene For The Making" and "Save Your Soul" prove it. "Scene" is straight out of the dancehall. A good ol' pop song, Geraldine-style, with a catchy hook. "Save Your Soul," as its title suggests, is a loud, roof-raising, religious revival on speed and one of the most powerful songs on the album.

Geraldine slows down slightly on a few tracks, yet still retains their power. "Feeling At Home," "B-Team" and album closer "Hooks" allow the listener to appreciate the quartet's songwriting skills. Though not as hyperactively intense as the other tracks, these songs exhibit strength through a muddy, heavy force that relies on Geraldine's bluesier tendencies. When the last beer is gone and you've given up on standing up, these are the songs to end the evening with.

Geraldine was able to secure Jim Waters (famed garage/noise producer of John Spencer Blues Explosion & Boss Hogg albums) to produce the album. He was able to harness their energy without sacrificing the necessary dirt and the fuzz. Waters' involvement on this project says quite a bit about the band and their reputation. Overall, Pure Bastard Rock is an impressive first outing from an equally impressive band.

 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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