Welfare Problems (Epitaph)
by Tim Den
Randy are back! And never soon enough! As we say around here at the Lollipop headquarters, “When in doubt, play Randy.” Cuz that’s how much they please everyone in this here office of schizophrenic tastes.
If you weren’t smart enough to dig deeper than The Hives and The Strokes when “garage revival” hit, then you missed one of the genre’s best albums in The Human Atom Bombs. Mixing The Clash, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and Little Richard with Marxist declarations, The Human Atom Bombs was always the answer whenever someone asked me about the best punk album of ’01. Welfare Problems continues Randy’s retrogression into (deceptively) primitive rock ‘n’ roll, slabs of grease in its hair and Hanoi Rocks vinyl in the back seat. “Cheap Thrills” sounds like gutter punks rewriting early Mötley Crüe, “X-ray Eyes” honors “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “A Man in Uniform” fits perfectly next to “I Fought the Law”… how many more standard-bearing references do I need to name? Amazing thing is, Randy never ape the legacy nor the style they’re going after, instead writing beefy songs that fully utilize their parameters like the Greats.
Overall, Welfare Problems is even dirtier, faster, and less inhibited than The Human Atom Bombs, so if you’re looking for the Queen-meets-Jellyfish-with-Marshalls of You Can’t Keep a Good Band Down (which, sadly enough, I keep doing), you best look elsewhere. And if you still remember them as the shredding Propagandhi clones of the early ’90s, wow, are you in for a surprise!
In the current “race for the retro prize,” not a single contender matches Randy’s authenticity, songwriting, abandon, or lyrical brain power. Because unlike those trend-hopping cover bands, Randy’s take on the classics feels so natural that the influences never outshine the songs themselves. You never stop to point at the obvious late-’60s production and the Keith Moon drum fills because you’re too busy being wooed. The masses can have The Datsuns or The Coral or The Sounds, all we need is Randy.
(2798 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026)