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Blacktop - I Got A Baaad Feelin' About This. Complete Recordings (2003)

This brand new release on In the Red records gives special attention to one of the very best albums made on the "garage" scene of the mid 90s, and is arguably Mick Collins' finest hour, surpassing the Dirtbombs and possibly the Gories' albums. Certainly the record itself, I Got a Baaaaaaad Feeling About This is hard to top for sequence, ambition, and coherence of tone, point of view and sonics that rank it right up in the canon with The Kids Are All Square -- This Is Hip! for "garage" records that transcend the limited notions of retro party albums or mere Cramps ripoffs. The album features Collins backed by the wild feedback guitar of Darin Lin Wood, who was the second guitar player on most of '68 Comeback's great singles, Janet Walker, Wood's drummer in the Oblivians styled rockabilly thrash band Fireworks, and Alex Cuervo, whose gigantic thudding bass sets the sonic tone for most of the songs. This combination proved to be electric for reasons beyond musical chemistry (you can read all about it in the excellent liner notes). The album was cut in four days in 1994, and was recorded by Warner Brothers A&R rep David Katznelson, who was trying to get Collins on a major label at the time. Hearing I Got a Bad Feeling, it is laughable that ANYONE would think this record could get on a major, even in the alterna-friendly climate of the early mid 90s. The music throbs with intense heat, frustration, anger, and sex, and the wild feedback tracks and genuinely strange solos Collins and Wood coax out of their instruments are wonders to the ear. Probably thanks to Katznelson, Blacktop's sound is incredibly deep, and the guitars are some of the finest sounding of the 90s, of anytime, meshing perfectly into a weaving pattern that sounds like the Rolling Stones partying with Sonic Youth. Armed with a confusing situation, a blown out voice, no money and a guy with a monkey (on his back), Collins produced some of the most memorable, visceral, and angry songs of his career, creating a protest record against just about everything in the fine tradition of Aftermath, Highway 61 Revisited and Raw Power. Songs like "Tornado Love" whip themselves into a whirlwind frenzy that is completely evocative of what the love in question would have to be like, and the astounding dirge "Planet Earth - Goddamn!" is an articulate and direct cry of frustration that is, honestly, some pretty persuasive nihilism, especially while Mick screams in his blown out voice while the guitars grind up and down the strings in an anxious fidget of unfulfilled lust. Framed by a great Ventures ripoff turned into a mudslide of sound and centered by three astounding covers, the very heavy Richie Valens instrumental "From Beyond", the steamroller take of Captain Beefheart's "Here I Am, Here I Always Am", and the completely feedback soaked "Grave" (from Desperate Rock and Roll vol. something or other), which Wood sings, this stuff did indeed sound like a major, major creative and sonic breakthrough. Every tune is amazing, delightful little treasures like "Flagpole Hill" eventually reveal themselves after one sort of gets over the initial blast of a tune like "Blazing Streets", which possibly has the most intense, squalling feedback solo ever recorded on the end of it ('twas gratifying to see that mentioned in the liner notes).

Mick Collins - vocal, guitar
Alex Cuervo - bass
Janet Walker - drums
Darin Lin Wood - guitar, voc

All killer, with not the littlest amount of unnecessary or unmemorable music, I Got a Baaaaaad Feeling About This is one of the top 10 albums of the 90s, and certainly one of the five most underrated. That everybody forgets this band (including the front man, who at least has an excuse), is a shame and a sin, and hopefully this new edition, which is shockingly lavishly packaged by In the Red (all one could ask for was a double LP companion) will go a ways to correct this unfortunate oversight. The stray cuts, culled from B-sides and a very weird overseas album, actually obscure the sheer power of the album itself for the new listener, so I'd use the programming button wisely if I were you. Not that there's a thing wrong with the vocals, arrangements, or sound of the covers, it's just that after the forty minutes of intensity that is I Got a Baaad Feeling the ear desires to rest. I will give the last words to Mick Collins -- taken from his liner notes that form the first half of the Blacktop booklet: "When the Cheater Slicks got back from a European tour in early 1996, Tom Shannon told a story about talking to a group of people in the Netherlands who told him they thought "I Got a Baaad Feeling" was the greatest LP ever made. "What," he said. "Better than the Stones?" "Of COURSE it's better than the Stones!" He said they said. I always thought it was nice that I could go to my grave knowing there was someplace on Earth where people thought I had cut a record better than the Rolling Stones."

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