WRECKS FROM THE HIGHWAY - Z/28 (JSNTGM)
As you can probably already tell from their name, the Z/28 being a once mighty and proud example of good old American muscle, these Scots live by the credo that if it's got tits or tires, it's gonna give you problems. And like any chopped, channeled, and cherried iron sled, it may take a while to warm up, but once it does, hold on to your arse. Alright, enough with the car analogies...
For the first third of "Wrecks From The Highway," Z/28 have it on cruise control (sorry...), preferring to churn out a rather pedestrian, lumbering. lacklustre brand of three-chord rawk, which falls just this side of memorable. Sure, their guitars grind and buzz and their drums rumble and crash, struggling steadfastly but without purpose or direction. Let's call if "faceless" for lack of a better term.
Opening instro "Nitro" kicks up a righteous cloud of dust for about a minute before seguing into "Medium Rare" and then into the acoustically-driven "FBI Man," snippets of movie dialogue popping up here and there. Yawn...
Then, like a good, swift kick in the pants, this album finally gains a full head of steam and it all comes together with "Another Fine Day," tough as nails, sizzling, and delivered with a mission, Skid Mark Tyme blathering like John Denney of LA's late, lamented Weirdos, The Spacequeen on drums, The Strangler on bass, and Rockin' Rick Buzzin' (enough already with the names!) setting a desperately frantic pace behind him. Kind of makes you wonder what the hell they were waiting for.
After another short film soundbyte warning against taking that first puff of a marijuana cigarette (yes, it can make you go psycho!), Z/28 shift gears (groan...) into crunch pop territory with "My Friend Scott" and then "Gun Girl Crazy," the latter being perhaps their finest moment - 1:56 of Tyme (no pun intended) warbling over a simple yet undeniably catchy chord sequence from Buzzin' that sticks like peanut butter, punctuated with cartoon sound affects. And if you think songs about little green men and hovering metallic discs begin and end with Husker Du's "Books About UFO's,"
check out "Lights In The Sky" and Buzzin's intentionally hopeless guitar solo.
Speaking of Buzzin', the guy can play a little bit, not soloing too much, but almost sawing, hacking, and chopping his guitar into grist every chance he gets, and he gets a big chance on "Outrageous," playing his way into your cerebral cortex, if not your heart. A cover of Charles Calhoun's 1954 nugget "Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash" begins with a goof - Tyme slobbering a few lines acapella like a redneck necking a jug of 'shine - but once the rest of the band kick in behind him, it's all business.
Unfortunately, despite a throbbing, greasy rip through Waylon Jennings' "Dukes Of Hazzard," Z/28 end with a whimper instead of a bang, back to the mundane punk-by-numbers of "Outlaw Machine" and "Kicking My Amp."
In the end, Z/28 have delivered half a great album (in this case, half equalling about fourteen minutes), the best songs crammed with time-honored chords and more hooks than a pirate convention and the worst nothing more than joyless, empty exercises in sheer volume. If the knuckle-cracking euphoria that coats the chewy bits could somehow be spread out a little
more evenly, these guys could rule the world, uh, maybe Scotland. - Clark Paull
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