This weekend, I wanted to listen to Sensational's Loaded With Power, one of the most fucked hip-hop albums in the history of the genre. But I only own it on cassette, and when I went looking, it wasn't in the box I thought it was in. I did spot something else, though: Keith Leblanc's Major Malfunction. Also on cassette. I've owned it since about 1988, a year or so after it came out, but it still plays perfectly. I immediately threw it in the stereo, and high school came rushing back.
I was a big Tackhead fan in high school (roughly 1987-1990), from Tackhead Tape Time and Major Malfunction (and the 1989 follow-up, Stranger Than Fiction) through the "Ticking Time Bomb" single. I had Gary Clail's Emotional Hooligan album, too, and Metatron, by Mark Stewart, though I never did track down any of his earlier releases, with the Pop Group or as a solo artist. (As I type this, I'm downloading his 1985 album As The Veneer Of Democracy Starts To Fade, though...bless you, Internet.) When they hired vocalist Bernard Fowler and put out Friendly As A Hand Grenade, I lost interest, and the follow-up, Strange Things, was even worse. But before that, they were fantastic. I've spent much of this morning listening to Keith Leblanc's solo single "Malcolm X - No Sell Out" and a bunch of the early Tackhead and Fats Comet singles - "What's My Mission Now?," "Mind At The End Of The Tether," "Reality," "Hard Left," "O.K. Bye!" The combination of huge, hip-hop/pile-driver beats, noise guitar, jagged funk bass, and all those sampled vocals and sound effects...it's all one of the best things "industrial" music ever coughed up. Easily my favorite Adrian Sherwood-related project/direction (though I do love some Creation Rebel stuff). Go searching - there's a fair amount of Tackhead/Gary Clail/Mark Stewart/Keith Leblanc material floating around various MP3 blogs. If you already know, you'll spend the day blasting your skull apart like I'm doing. If you're a newcomer, oh man are you in for a kick in the ears.