Thee Michelle Gun Elephant
by Jon Sarre
Ya know yer doin’ somethin’ right when ya only got two records available in the States and yer third one shows up as a “best of” compilation. Thee Michelle Gun Elephant are supposedly big-time stars back in Japan and gettin’ somewhere here, and if ya’ve ever seen ’em, ya’d understand. Ditto for the records. The two they got around here, Gear Blues and Casanova Snake, sound better’n’better everytime I hear ’em, but still I got no idea of what they’re singin’ about, or even if it is in English (which usually it isn’t – but on this new one they’ve got a song and it sounds like they’re sayin’ “Ohhh ohhh, living with junkies,” but it’s actually “Revolver Junkies” and if that’s actually about guns or Beatles records or namby-pamby music magazines, I leave to them). They understand this rock’n’roll stuff better than I understand them, tho’ that’s supposed to be universal, or so I’ve been told.
Someone told TMGE, for fook’s sake, they don’t get all frantic like yer Teengenerates or King Bros., more like they’ve thought it out thru and thru thru thru repeated listens of MC5 records and copped elements from the first Dead Kennedys LP (cuz singer Yusake Chiba sounds a bit like Biafra and guitar player Futoshi Abe occasionally runs thru a distorto-surf East Bay Ray lick). All that said, they’re not copyists like lotsa other Japanese bands, so they come out smellin’ nasty like a packed club and they’re tight enough to pull off rockin’ frenzy without caterwailin’ all over the place. Plus TMGE has an originality that keeps ya from spottin’ their next move half a mile away. Even if ya have other stuff by these guys (five tracks come offa the two other LPs), this is worth havin’ and if ya don’t, this here is the place to start.
(PO Box 7112 Burbank, CA 91510)