The Lizard

Saigon Kick

Atlantic Records, 1992

REVIEW BY: Eric Atwell

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/09/1999

This album is a casualty of one of those Columbia House blackouts I had in college. You know, where you somehow convince your better judgement $13.99 a CD is a good deal (always forgetting for one critical moment that shipping is the great equalizer). I don't recall whether I completely lost it and actually chose Saigon Kick's The Lizard as one of my ten free CDs for a penny, or received it in the mail as a result of lapsing on the old "if you want the featured CD simply do not return the monthly mailer" game.

So you buy your six CDs in three years meeting your "club" obligations, a jaded mail order consumer exhausted by two years of both sending back Columbia House mailers and returning damnable featured CDs to sender...and they'll still track you down like the IRS promising not to use the mandatory send-back mailers if you rejoin! I don't know...that first experience was enough. I'll let Saigon Kick along with some other regrettable Columbia House CDs stand as a monument to my gullibility.

I'd say The Lizard was Saigon Kick's attempted artistic tour de force. Unfortunately it's anything but, and it takes only a glance at the back cover to see these guys were proud members of the poseur all-star team. It's really too bad their craptacular single "Love Is On The Way" allowed them to remain on MTV long after they were blackened and bruised like a 3-week old banana. In other words, they were around long after everyone left them behind with the other confused bands that were obviously mystified by Jane's Addiction's legit arena rock. Where Jane's had the air of knowledgeable junkies with style and originality, bands like Saigon Kick came across as manufactured stopgaps spanning from Warrant to Nirvana. In short, Saigon Kick is but a thankfully long forgotten pop thing.

I still possess The Lizard only because the used-record stores I visited with this vivid green CD clutched in my paws (for a hopeful two dollars) already had at least three of the beauties in the racks. Thus I have owned the awful document Saigon Kick left for posterity over a number of years now. And I'll tell you this: it still sucks. In fact, it sucks almost as much as N'Sync and The Backstreet Boys combined. Saigon Kick established a standard for sucking long before our current crop of mainstream fashion victims arrived to carry the torch.bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250

The first track is aptly titled "Cruelty." You can tell from the outset guitarist Jason Bieler is the mackdaddy of this group, what with the mammoth guitar part that swells out of the mix to dominate even the huge, Bonham-wannabe drum sound. Sadly it's a poor rendition of another quasi-instrumental song. I'll let you guess what band that song might be from. Plagiarism must be why Bieler looks so pained in a publicity picture from that time.

In fact, much of the album is made up of derivative, direction-less spasms on guitar and vocals. Those spasms, however, do not even compare to the band's incredibly lame attempts at dramatic song titles. The following are a lasting testament to being out of touch:

"Hostile Youth." You know; it's what the docile youth became after they spent their allowance on this album.

"Feel The Same Way." As who? You'll never know because you already hit the fast forward button.

"All Alright." This name obviously took a while.

"Freedom." You'll free yourself of this track quickly. Only to run into the "God Of 42nd Street". Talk about some paint-by-numbers crap.

"Chanel." Like the perfume? The Kick boys play at their most artsy on this tune, and (dare I say it) it's probably the only interesting tune on the album (of course it's a Beatles rip-off).

Did I mention the photo on the back cover? The picture of guitarist Bieler is one of the funnier bits of Spinal Tap serendipity I've seen in a while.

I gotta jump back to "Feel The Same Way" for a minute. I didn't make it very far into this track before wanting to put a .38 in my mouth, but it has one bit of lyrical honesty that caught my eye in the CD booklet: "call me a man with a view that's wild / call me a man with a mind like a child,"...I mean, that really says it all.

But this review wouldn't be complete without mentioning the epic "Peppermint Tribe". Who came up with that trifling title? Never mind the music, because honestly, I can't remember if it's the song that starts with really distorted guitar chords or the song that starts with heavily distorted guitar chords.

"All I Want" is pretty scary too, what with its European travelogue themes. And if you're a dumb ass like me you'll remember "Love Is On The Way." LIOTW (as I fantasize the song might be called on some Saigon Kick fan page), you might recall, was the "big hit" off the album and is very mellow in contrast to the rest of The Lizard. And it uses some interesting note and chord choices, so naturally the band did not write the original. The bottom line is it still sucks.

Then there is "Body Bags". Obviously a political statement right? Possibly, but see if you can decipher these sophisticated lyrics: "Marilyn was the finest sleeper / J.F.K. was the youngest bleeder / Luther died the bravest dreamer." I really can't dig up a better gem of generic fluff than that to describe the whole gestalt that is Saigon Kick.

Obviously this was a ripe target. I don't know what record company executive thought they could get away with this insult to rock and roll - but they did. I'm guessing there are still hundreds if not thousands of copies of this album available at your used record shops - especially if your local store is run by a lazy old hippie who doesn't purge his inventory very often. You can probably check out this laugher for under five bucks if you're into torturous self-abuse.

Interestingly enough, Saigon Kick may still be kicking even in 1999. BEWARE! (Oh, and as for the grade - they had a hit single, so they deserve the plus!)

Rating: F+

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© 1999 Eric Atwell 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 Atlantic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.