here is music that gets filed under the “Rock” category in your local music store. And then there’s Rock ‘N’ Roll. The kind of music you put on as you work your way up to your second six pack. The kind of music that’s on as you break something... on purpose. The kind of music that’s on when someone gets hurt. Radio Birdman is Rock ‘N’ Roll. Loud, obnoxious, dangerous, dirty, and you can dance to it. Or rather.... break stuff.
Sub Pop was kind enough to include Radio Birdman’s entire debut disc, Radios Appear, on this comp. Radios Appear (which was named after a Blue Oyster Cult lyric from "Dominance and Submission") has been out of print and pretty hard to find for ages. Why? Don’t ask. For some reason though, Sub Pop found fit to just make their own track listing. A minor gaffe as luckily for them, their chosen track listing flows nicely along. I suppose if one wanted to hear Radios Appear in it’s original running order, there’s always the program button on your CD player.
Radio Birdman had it down. And by “it”, I mean, making rock music. They had the swagger of the Stones, as was evident on “Murder City Nights”, whose opening rifts sound like the cousin to “Brown Sugar”, but then finds it’s own ground and stands as a fast, straight ahead rocker. “Love Kills” sounds a bit like the Doors. Right down to the lazy piano line and Morrison-esque lyrics. Singer Rob Younger even emulates Morrison’s vocal style. The kicker is, that Younger is a far more interesting and far better front man than Morrison. “Love Kills” is better than most Doors material. As far as the Rock pedigree goes, main songwriter and guitarist, Deniz Tek hails from the Motor City by way of Ann Arbor, Michigan. He was inspired a great deal by local heroes the MC5 and the Stooges when he started Radio Birdman. It shows. Radio Birdman has all the irreverence and attitude of those two bands.
Another thing that separates the men from the boys in Rock music is passion. Radio Birdman played like they had something to prove. They were the best band in the world, but no one was there to hear them. If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it does it- well, you get the point. Younger screams his balls off, and the band sounds like they’re pummeling their instruments into submission. “Descent Into the Maelstrom” is a good example of how hungry and angry these guys were. An almost tribal, surfy beat leads into Yonger’s yelps and growls. You can almost hear him stalking the stage, edged on by the guitars and driving beat behind him. It’s seething. I listen, and I keep waiting for the steam escape. The great release. Glorious when it comes, Younger lets loose, cuing the guitars. Short, sharp solos that work. No grandstanding, just driving their point home.
“Do the Pop”, one of the standout tracks on this comp, shows the strength Radio Birdman had for creating catchy rock songs. Young screams, “No! No! No! No!” followed by an infectious, pounding guitar that grabs you out of your seat. It’s not one of the more primal songs on the album, but it holds its own next to more aggressive barnburners like “Non-stop Girls” and “Breaks My Heart”.
How many ways can I describe how this album rocks? Does it really matter? The important thing is that it goes well with booze, makes you move, and gets the blood flowing. Go on now, get the fuck out of here and go get into some trouble.
Reviewed by: Colleen Delaney
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01