The Upper Crust
The Decline & Fall of the Upper Crust (Emperor Norton)
by Scott Hefflon
Following the ever-entertaining Let Them Eat Rock, the deliciously decadent high society rockers, The Upper Crust, deign to grace us with another record. With 11 innuendo-filled, AC/DC-flavored pastries on this platter, The Decline & Fall is a treat like no other band can serve. Let’s introduce the rouged rogues in the band: Lord Rockingham (guitar & vocals), Lord Bendover (guitar & vocals), Duc d’Istortion (guitar & vocals), Jackie Kickassis (drums), Count Bassie & Marquis de Roque (bass). And yes, that’s a lot of guitars crunching away. Opening with “Cream of the Crust,” they invite a fetching filly down to the stables for a little dairy-squeezin’ pleasure. “Hit me in the face with your cream pie,” I believe, is how they phrase it. Next, “Beauty Spot” tells the tale of getting gussied up for the night’s festivities. Admiring oneself in the mirror, donning a perfectly-placed beauty mark and white powdered wig whilst whispering “I feel beautiful tonight,” now there’s a scenario we can all, in some way, relate to. Not to mention that the winding, wah-soaked fade-out has the perfect pacing and guitar solo mayhem for strolling amongst the reveling commoners. “Boudoir” is as close to a “la-la-la” love song as the Upper Crust have come. Pun not intended. In another band’s callused, working class hands, this would be a beer & whisky bump & grind, but in the Upper Crust’s skillful and well-manicured hands, it’s a tasteful, dreamy pledge of love, longing, and the temporary insanity caused by accompanying one of breath-taking grace and beauty to your private rooms. “Rabble Rouser” is, surprisingly enough, not an anthem of rebellion. It’s a call for caution and thoughtful contemplation of one’s revolutionary actions. Perhaps inspired by petty uprisings on their own estates or by misguided revolts on a more global scale, the song shows a philosophical (or perhaps merely an over-privileged) side to these aristocrats. Ah, but “Tell Mother I’m Home” returns to form with a quick tale of how one’s refined tastes can be offended by ill-bred vulgarians. Such amateurs, the lot of them. “Versailles” is a more roquing rendition of “Boudoir,” a “come on”-style come on. “Vulgar Tongue” follows with the tale of a truly talented trash-talker. “When I wanna talk back to her, I got to use the vernacular” is a truly brilliant lyric, don’tcha think? “Persona Non Grata” is a touching story of how even the rich may be rebuffed, rejected, and otherwise told to get lost. Immediately following is an anthem of amorality, a declamation of proud debauchery and depravity, “Ne’er-Do-Well.” A white-silk-gloved-fist-pumper if ever there was one. “Gold-plated Radio” is just plain silly. And closing out The Decline & Fall is “Highfalutin,” a raspy-voiced crowd-pleaser littered with raucous riffs and blue-collar butt boogie. Yes, the Upper Crust have returned to show the working class how the upper crust rocks.
P.S. The CD booklet is filled with pictures of large-breasted women wearing little more than powdered wigs. Just thought you should know.