Saturday, April 01, 2006

Albums You Need: Phaseshifter

Thers rarely comments on my blog: I'm pretty sure he rarely reads it. And he almost never comments verbally on what I post or don't.

Except in this case.

Two or three times over the last year, he's asked "Why don't you ever blog about Redd Kross?"

Jeff (left) and Steve McDonald. Posted by Picasa

Well, there's no reason, really. I like Redd Kross, and I think they fit pretty comfortably into the shape Power Pop assumed during the 80's and 90's, at least as comfortably as a more obvious choice, like, say, Material Issue. Like the best PP, Redd Kross blends old and new, pop and punk, into a complex tapestry. And yet I never thought of them as such.

Why? Probably because they weren't one of "my" bands, they were one of Thers's, and the stuff he brought to the relationship occupies a different section of my brain. I realize how silly that sounds, but it's true. And they started as a hopelessly adolescent, kinda crappy punk band, not really saved by clever pop-culture-based lyrics (e.g. "Linda Blair")--but then they were adolescents at that point (Born Innocent was recorded when Steve was 14 and Jeff 16, if I'm not mistaken.) Also, Redd Kross has a certain post-modern tongue-in-cheek thing which strikes me as a bit self-conscious for power pop, if that makes sense. Irony rather than tribute. Power pop is about interpreting the old, not lifting it wholesale (The Jam notwithstanding) and the first few listens through Redd Kross, it'll drive you crazy as you insist to yourself, "I know that hook! But from where?" Indeed, I know people who've dismissed Redd Kross from their gallery of pleasures for just that reason.

That's a mistake.

So having settled on Redd Kross as a topic, we turn to the always vexing question: which one do you need? Again, I'm going to eschew the obvious choice (1987's Neurotica, recently rereleased by Five Foot Two Records) and turn to one which got a bit of airplay at the time, but has fade from sight.

The criminally out-of-print Phaseshifter.

Phaseshifter Posted by Picasa

This was my first RK album, perhaps why it occupies a special place in my heart. If you know it, you probably know "Jimmy's Fantasy," which got a fair amount of airplay on 120 Minutes in the day. But there are a number of other great tracks as well. My personal favorite is "Visionary," again, possibly because it was really the first RK song I fell head-over-heels in love with.

I could gush endlessly about almost every song on the record: "Monolith," "Huge Wonder," "Saragon," "After-School Special".... but trust me. You want this record.

Once you've fallen for Redd Kross, you can acquire Third Eye or Show World or the hard-to-find rarities collection Did Somebody Say McDonalds? (I can't even find a link for it--that's how hard it is to find), and you can thank me then.

Don't miss their star turn in Spirit of '76!
And Redd Kross has a podcast!


emerson said...

Hey, what about the two Teenage Love Dolls movies? Ronald's two cousins owe me 140 minutes of my life back.

refinnej said...

oooo Third Eye is a good one...

NYMary said...

Though we do in fact own both Desperate Teenage Lovedolls and Lovedoll Suprestar, I can't say we watch them too often.

refinnej said...

NYMary: "You're a teenager on the run, the Lovedolls will provide the fun.... "

This just came up on my iTunes. It was on the CD Thers put on my computer when he was here and I immediately thought of you. GOD but those movies are hilarious...

Dig Me Out Podcast said...

Check out a podcast review of Phaseshifter by Redd Kross on Dig Me Out at, a weekly podcast dedicated to revisiting forgotten gems and uncovering overlooked albums of the 1990s.