The Wayne Kramer story has been documented pretty well. A member of the MC5, time in prison due to drug charges, several very good albums on Epitaph the past few years, and now a live album (use your imagination to figure out what the initials in the title stand for).
Not surprisingly, Kramer and bandmates Doug Lunn (bass), and Ric Parnell (drums) tear the house down (or should that be up?). From loud, abrasive power-chord rock, to wah-driven funk, to spoken-word, avant-garde jazz/rock, and everything in-between, this CD covers the bases.
Kramer’s guitar playing is almost always right on the money. Whether he’s using his wah to great effect on cuts like “Bad Seed,” highlighting his nasty lyric in “Crack In the Universe” with loud single-line imaginative soloing, playing a Springsteen-esque solo in the very anti-Bruce “Something Broken in the Promised Land,” or just flailing away (meant only in the best way) on the likes of “Kick Out the Jams,” Kramer shows why he should be considered in the upper echelon of rock players.
Lyrically, this isn’t for the squeamish. Kramer’s not enchanted with things in America and he lets you know it on cuts like “It’s Never Enough,” and “Something’s Broken…” He also shows his love for beat poets and poetry in “So Long, Hank,” a seven-minute guitar-driven tribute to Charles Bukowski. Other strong and interesting cuts include “Junkie Romance,” and the guaranteed-to-be-controversial “Bomb Day In Paris.”
Vocally, Kramer presents a pretty cool alternative. Rather than sing, he almost speaks (a la the beat poets) or chants lyrics. It’s a unique sound that works quite well. Band members really feed off each other, too! The live setting shows off the band’s strong points. Even when they’re loose, it works.
Suffice it to say, there’s nobody out there right now like Wayne Kramer. Experienced, a killer player, and more attitude than any young, angsty band. Check out this CD, or, for that matter, any of the past three on Epitaph.
This review originally appeared in VG‘s Dec. ’98 issue.