are still kicking it at #1, and it doesn't look like they are going to budge, baby! Come November, as this is going to be the best Michigan
game in the history of the series. The Red Crayola w/ Art and Language Kangaroo?
(Rough Trade, 1981)The Red Crayola w/ Art and Language Black Snakes
I really like this era of the Red Crayola, summed up by a pair of albums in which Mayo Thompson
was backed by this odd punk super-group (composed of members of Swell Maps
, X-Ray Spex
, Essential Logic
and The Raincoats
) called Art and Language
. These albums really stand out in Red Crayola’s storied, vast and ever-expanding discography, as they are two of the most conventional releases but strangely enough two of the least heard. Between 1995 and 2000, Drag City
reissued the pair (in addition to, ahem, Coconut Hotel
, Live 1967
, Corrected Slogans
, Three Songs on a Trip to the United States
, and Malefactor Ade
) digitally for the first time ever, but they both eventually fell out of print. Fortunately, Kangaroo?
has been repressed, but Black Snakes
remains strangely out-of-print. It’s a real shame, because the two albums should be heard together, showing two sides of Thompson's post-punk experiment, as Kangaroo?
is ecstatic, sprightly and bouncy, Black Snakes is a bit darker, funkier, and far less lyrically absurd. It’s also interesting to hear Thompson translate British and ‘Rust-Belt’ post-punk into a “new” brand of Red Crayola, turning away from his psychedelic roots.
While I’m by no means an authority on Red Crayola, as I think that, while they are extremely imprtant as a band, a lot of their stuff is so wildly expressionistic that it starts to become redundant and banal. On these two albums, however, the sound veres a little more towards sanity without ever sounding like a tamer strain of Mayo Thompson's lifelong art.
I think that I prefer Kangaroo?
when it's all said and done (so pick it up while it's still available) because it sounds a little more democratic and band-like, but keep an eye out for Black Snakes
as it is nearly as good, but prone to the occasional, aimless jam. It's kind of hard to believe that he made these great albums during his stint as the guitarist for Pere Ubu
, but at the same you can, because these
albums are a hell of a lot better than the crap he did for Ubu (The Art of Walking
and the also mediocre Song of The Bailing Man