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"People Is Beautiful"

Gays In The Military

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Album Review

Don't let the tacky Peter Bagge cover art or the equally in-your-face band name, Gays in the Military, keep you away from this colliding mess of exciting rock & roll sounds. Imagine the latter-day New York Dolls — after they learned how to play — confronting Eno's Portsmouth Sinfonia in a dark alley searching for psychedelic artifacts. Destined for late-night college radio, or maybe Internet stations, there is something here inside the punk rock scratchings of "Beverly Hills Cock Part Two" as well as the ominous "A Message for the Fans (I'm Going to Kill All the Fans)." Even the poorly recorded live take of "Orgy at the Massacre" has a certain spirit and, er, charm amidst the feedback and would-be Johnny Rotten vocals. This new version of the group put together by bassist/vocalist Brian (please don't ask for their last names or pseudo-names) picks up right where the 1995 live tape of "Johnny 'Constant' Love" recorded at the Turtle in Greensboro, NC, left off. It's a bizarre mix of out of tune but listenable lead guitar — G.I. Gay Guy taking over for original member Art Jackson — mixed with relentless attitude and a very cohesive sound assault. If Boston's Human Sexual Response decided to go deep underground, "Hips or Lips" could be the pleasing result. The vocals melt into the quagmire, but the product is a lot more compelling than Half Japanese or other groups that made the noise but couldn't get it to be this appealing. "Tiger Cage" won't be a Top 40 hit, but it reaches out for greatness nonetheless, wonderfully reminiscent of that Flipper classic, "Sex Bomb." GitM (that's Gays in the Military collapsed) have a mission and go further toward accomplishing it with the gonzo mantra "Evil Physician/Evil Position" — a downright menacing punk oratory. Their rendition of the Butthole Surfers' "Human Cannonball" slips into the abyss with the group's 11 originals, but it's all good fun, not clean fun, but good fun, and definitely worth a few spins.

"People Is Beautiful", Gays In The Military
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