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Various Artists Snake Oil Supercharm: A Tribute to Zodiac Mindwarp

By David Tarlow, Contributor
Thursday, January 8, 2004 @ 1:04 PM


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Well, it's official. Just about every band that ever existed and ever made an album has been the subject of a tribute album. Case in point, this here tribute to Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction. Sure, I know who Zody and his band of merry outlaws are, but does anybody else? Well, here at KNAC.COM, I would assume there's some more Mindwarped rockers out there, but in the real world this is a pretty small niche to be trying to sell CDs to. Be that as it may, I do indeed love Zodiac's one Stateside album, Tattooed Beat Messiah, have all of his other UK imports, and thought his single "Prime Mover" was among the best tunes the '80s had to offer. So I guess this tribute is aimed squarely at me.

Usually it's a bad thing when you get tribute full of bands you've never heard of, but not here. Just about every band nails Zodiac's Motorhead-meets-AC/DC sound, though few match his charismatic vocal style. Mostly the bands stick to the original's sound and arrangement, barely changing a thing, which is a good thing as tunes like "Backseat Education" and "Let's Break The Law" hardly need much reworking. But there are a few exceptions.

Generous Maria offer up a Melvins-style sludge take on "Wild Child." Queen Bee's cover of "Untamed Stare" sounds like the Pretenders on biker crank, and the Dollyrots sounds like the Donnas did five years ago (and that's a good thing) on "There's a Barbarian in the Back of My Car." The most drastic reworking though comes from Sweet Justice (featuring members of the Streetwalkin' Cheetahs, Bellrays and the ADZ, three bands I actually have heard of) who dismantle "Lager Woman from Hell" into country number, leaving it completely unrecognizable, but thoroughly enjoyable. Superdeformed's industrial cover of "High Priest of Love" is also pretty jarringly different.

Other than those few, most of these cuts are kick ass rawk 'n' roll bands covering great songs by a kick ass rawk 'n' roll band. Dirty Power offer up a hellafied version of "Skull Spark Joker." The Laternjack do the best Zody imitation on "High Heel Heaven." The Snakecharmers rock like fuck on "Kickstart Me For Love." The Humanoids get sexy on "Bad Girl City." And so on...

Of course, no one could ever do justice to the epic "Prime Mover," though Isabella's Gift sure try. And ya can't blame 'em for that.

* * * ½


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