Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dope on the Scarecrow

I've been an Angry Samoans fan for over fifteen years, and as time grinds on I find myself beginning to understand the later, stranger work of fucked up front man Metal Mike Saunders.  I mean, Back From Samoa is an all time classic, and even the second album STP Not LSD seems less baffling and more amusing and memorably nutty in hindsight.  By the time this weird seven inch record arrived in 1996, the rest of the original lineup was long gone, as were all of their replacements - in fact, this is just Mike on guitar and vocals.  

Saunders was one of those characters too fucked to play drums but charismatic enough to be a "singer," like Joey Ramone or Iggy Pop.  The first Samoans show was as the opening band for Roky Erickson, and his twitchy shadow looms long over their style: surreal, horror-movie influenced lyrics and a complete lack of self-editing, combined with a youthful enthusiasm for weird drugs and fifties pop.  Once Mike's bandmates had jumped ship he was left with the name and without anybody to tell him NO.

So we arrive years later at this thing.  Side one is a loose parody of the John Cougar Mellencamp song "Rain on the Scarecrow," but instead of lamenting the plight of the modern farmer, it's a jab at recently croaked Grateful Dead slob Jerry Garcia.  On the surface it seems like an anti-dope song, but Saunder's long history of drug abuse is obvious not only to those aware of the band's career arc, but also to anyone with a pair of ears and a copy of this record.  The flipside is a similarly warped cover of "Heroin" by the Velvet Underground, likely cribbed from Roky's cover, which fades into another Coug joke. 

So why does this record exist?  Saunders is no stranger to drugs, and sports a giant mane of hair that probably stank worse than The Stooges.  He can barely keep his guitar in tune and both of the songs he's parodying are old news, even in '96.  The answer is in the grooves, though, I can feel it.  Better listen to it again...

1 comment:

  1. I work at a record store in Berkeley and Mike comes in about once a month. He is all about teen pop shit like Brittany Spears etc. now. Its extremely bizarre.


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