Respect The Rock America

The Hellacopters/Gluecifer

Man's Ruin Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Chris Harlow


Believing that one good turn deserved another, U.S. music label, Man's Ruin Records obviously had visions of grandeur when signing the Scandinavian action rock tandem the Hellacopters (Sweden) and Gluecifer (Norway) to a one-time project titled Respect the Rock America. But, on the other hand, the uninitiated action rock lover might have been easily put off by two no-name Nordic bands challenging the American audience with such a pompous mission statement, resulting in a cynicism that could easily assume chipped shoulders on two boys named David entering a country pegged as Goliath.

In all fairness to the two groups, both were riding high from the positive effects that the 1997 White Jazz Records release Respect the Rock had on exposing the bands in their native homelands in Europe. Brisk sales resulted with the subsequent releases of the Hellacopters breakthrough album Payin' the Dues and Gluecifer's first full-length album, patriotically referencing their hometown of Oslo, Norway with the title Ridin' the Tiger.

And as the story goes, it took an indie label like Man's Ruin to take the plunge on bringing these two acts to U.S. soil. What resulted should easily illustrate examples of what a label can do right and what a label can do wrong in trying to payoff on such a gamble.

First, I'll applaud Man's Ruin for actually trying to take a great idea from White Jazz Records and attempting to make it better. Seriously, rock n' roll and pompous mission statement associations are cool even if it's to augment a marketing strategy. And yes, as an avid student of European action rock, I'm going to praise the label for choosing the two most talented and interesting bands coming out of the Northern European scene at the time. Something tells me that if this had been a major label enterprise, we'd be talking about Ace of Base and the Cardigans, but I apologetically digress…my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Sadly though, when describing the tracks on the album, I have to give a failing grade to Man's Ruin for allowing the Hellacopters to record four crappy cover songs to supplement their one original tune on the album. Covering Wilson Pickett's "A Man and a Half" and Bob Seger's "Her Strut" are as much bad ideas today as they were even worse ideas when the original artists first recorded them. Sure, the title of the album tells us to respect the rock, but give me Ted Nugent or Allman Brothers songs to revere. Hell, I'd even take a cover of Aretha Franklin's "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" over those two songs.

Listen to the Hellacopters perform their lone original "Doggone Your Bad Luck Soul" and you'll find yourself wondering why Man's Ruin let the Hellacopters record the covers in the first place. Split tempos set to equal parts of blues and wah-wah are far more interesting than the likely boring first impressions that the Hellacopters granted first-time U.S. listeners with the other tracks performed on the album.

But alas, this is a split effort for which we should all be extremely thankful.

If music industry wisdom is to put the best songs at the top of the track listing then Man's Ruin failed again and that's a shame. Gluecifer wins the battle of the two bands on this album hands down.

Gluecifer rocks and Gluecifer roars much like that tiger I was describing earlier with their tracks "Gary O' Kane" and "Shitty City." Listening to "Gary O'Kane," I get a certain impression that Biff Malibu is singing about the days when he used to put "a boot in the ass" of a guy he describes as the "king of lame - a no-good doofus with an idiot name." Likewise, "Shitty City" is a song that would seemingly describe Gluecifer's distaste for their hometown of Oslo. Even if they are not being serious with their chants of wanting to see the city burn, the big guitars, wailing vocals, and vicious backbeats that are kicked out during this jam impressively hide any sentiment one would normally sympathize with such a happening.

Anger management classes can wait as Gluecifer figure out how to convincingly pen a song with the title "My Card Says Typhoon Killer." It doesn't take much imagination to realize this isn't a ballad we're talking about here. The last two tracks, "No Goddamn Phones" and the cover of the Backstreet Girls (yes, that's right) "Going Down" pack the finishing wallops of the Gluecifer set; a quintet of tracks that may end up going down in history as some of the best-arranged songs the band has ever put out to date on one release.

Looking back, Man's Ruin definitely had the right idea for putting out this release in an attempt to jump start the Scandinavian scene on North American soil. What they lacked was the ability to balance the output of both bands efforts as much as they featured the wrong band at the top of this billing. With a title like Respect the Rock America, it's understandable how the previously uninitiated will remain uninitiated to what should have been.

Gluecifer Grade: A The Hellacopters Grade: D+ Man's Ruin Grade: D (for as much stupidity as anything else)

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2003 Chris Harlow and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Man's Ruin Records, and is used for informational purposes only.