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Debasement Tapes

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Album Review

From out of nowhere — or, more accurately, out of Grave drummer Don Bolles' massive collection of outtakes and live tapes — Debasement Tapes saw the light in 1993, presenting the band in all their scuzzily creepy glory. While the fidelity varies like crazy, even the murkier cuts often contain something special, and as a portrait of the band at their most experimental and most hilarious (often at the same time!), it can't be beat. Bolles' detailed and often screamingly funny liner notes provide all the information you could possibly want. A chunk of the tunes come from a 1983 date in Escondido, CA, including versions of songs from precursor band the Consumers and a rip through the notorious "F****d by the Devil," easily the most intentionally laughable goth/punk song ever outside of Alien Sex Fiend. Other tracks, like "Bobby" and "R2D2 Is the Buddha," are home and garage recordings as out-there as it gets, consisting of rough noise collages using everything from bedpans filled with broken glass to random TV nonsense, all of which wouldn't sound too out of place on Negativland radio broadcasts. Dinah Cancer gets in more than a few bloodcurdling screams and wails here and there, while Paul B. Cutler is no slouch when it comes to nutty lyrics and over-the-top performances ("Gangsta Rap" is bile at its best); Rob Graves and Bolles keep everything moving pretty well on the rhythm front. Combined with random audience give-and-take and more than a few moments of the band completely losing it on stage, the end result is sheer entertainment. Definitely not the place to start for newcomers to the Grave's dark realm, but anyone taken by the band's official studio work will find lots to love here.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s

.45 Grave was a Los Angeles-based death-rock band whose macabre, morose and sometimes amusing music helped to get the goth-rock genre off to its shambling life. In 1985, after gaining a fair deal of attention via gloom-ridden gigs and several depressing releases, the band split up, with Paul B. Cutler and Dinah Cancer (real name Mary Sims) going on to other projects, including Dream Syndicate, while drummer Don Bolles and bassist Rob Graves formed Silver Chalice with guitarist Geza X. In 1988, a...
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Debasement Tapes, 45 Grave
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