Monday, August 15, 2005

A Tale of Two Davids

Arena-rock Everyman Dave Grohl...

...and David Yow during the glory days of the Jesus Lizard

Has anyone else noticed that the title track from the new Foo Fighters album, In Your Honor, nicks its keystone riff from the song "Owner's Lament" by Scratch Acid?

...No? Anyone?

That doesn't surprise me. As Jim H of Vinyl Mine would tell you, Scratch Acid remains one of the most criminally uncelebrated bands of the '80s post-punk/noise scene. Scratch Acid had less in common with the druggy dirges of fellow Texan sonic terrorists the Butthole Surfers than with the exorcismic squall of the Birthday Party, thanks in no small part to frontman David Yow. Armed with a voice "like a man with his genitals caught in a bear trap", Yow had (and maintains) little regard for physical danger, the Fourth Wall, and clothing. (Bassist David William Sims recalled that the craziest thing he's seen Yow do in performance was launch himself off of the 30-foot-high stage at the Glastonbury Festival.) A colleague of mine from Chicago once told me about seeing the Godfather of Onstage Psychosis, Iggy Pop. His only comment:

"It was good, don't get my wrong... but Iggy is no David Yow."

While some of Scratch Acid's contemporaries supernova'd (the Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth) or sold out (the Butthole Surfers - come on, we ALL remember Electriclarryland), Scratch Acid were torn apart by that classic combination of occupational hazards: a crooked record company, tour fatigue, and getting hassled by the cops. The two Davids of Yow & Sims moved to Chicago, where they joined forces with six-string sledghammer Duane Denison and seismic skinsman Mac McNeilly. That band, the Jesus Lizard, created some of the most viscerally satisfying rock in history - no one, from Big Black to Lightning Bolt, has produced a song as propulsive as "Boilermaker". Their legion of fans included other musical luminaries such as Buzz Osborne and Kurt Cobain. Anyone who saw them perform will swear on their mother's grave that it was the greatest show ever.

And that, Mr. Grohl, is something that you'd be hard pressed to hear from any one of the millions of Foo Fighters fans. Sorry.

1 comment:

stickydisgust said...

I know this blog entry is over four years old, but after hearing Scratch Acid for the first time I couldn't believe the similarities of "In Your Honor" and "Owner's Lament". I HAD TO GOOGLE IT. I knew I wasn't alone in hearing it. Long live David Yow.