Thursday, April 14, 2011

Steve- Steve

After 1988, there was a spontaneous eruption of new bands in Albuquerque.  These newcomers were a harbinger of things to come. However, what was good for Albuquerque music fans wasn't always good for the bands. As always, there was a limited number of venues and of course back then in order to get product out, bands had to go into  a real studio, cut a master and have it pressed on vinyl or duped on cassette or cd.  The end result of all this, is that a number of good bands got lost in the shuffle, some moved away, others grew discouraged and quit. Steve was one of those lost bands.  

"Steve" the album was released by Steve, the band in 1992. It was released on Big Fish records (which was also Treadmill's label) Produced by the band, Shannon Wilson and the ubiquitous Jorge Ripley. It was recorded by Ripley at Her Majesty's Secret Record Shop. Steve was Bob Beckley (bass,vocals) Dan Murphy (guitar) and Jeff Cohen (drums) Beckley went on to achieve fame if not fortune with Duke City punk rockers, Icky & The Yuks. Cohen is or was the drummer for local heavy metal band, The Ground Beneath. I'm a little uncertain of Cohen's status simply because TGB has had a rotating roster of drummers. After Steve, both Beckley and Murphy segued into The Meek, an Albuquerque punk band with plenty of attitude.

"Steve" the album, was ten tracks of post punk, alt-punk  or whatever punk.  The opening track "In Love"  is a hot blast of emotional debris and Bob Beckley emotes with the best of them. "Don't want your memories, so I swept them through my mind." We are reminded that from great pain come great rock songs and from great intense pain come great punk rock songs. Steve's energy level never wavers, "Paper Doll" is propelled by Murphy's guitar and Cohen's drums "I asked my paper doll, do I think this thing is right" are we talking about a girl on a poster or a life size cutout? "Paper Doll, Paper Doll you never mention anything at all." Beckley works himself into a frenzy while his mates provide backing vocals that sound almost solemn. "Mary" takes a look at the problems of raising a child, from the perspective of one well known mom.  "One Mary had a son, let's just call him God" ultimately, she gets herself  a gun and threatens everyone "Leave me alone Baby Jesus, I'm sick and tried of you, Leave me alone Baby Jesus, all the things you put Mom through."
 "Dutch Boy" vividly deals with a suicide, Beckley tells the tale; "So, Dutch Boy got home and looked into his empty apartment, he found a razor blade, he cut one wrist, he cut another wrist." the song then lurches about in spurts much like it's dying subject "Tonight's the night Dutch Boy paints his apartment red", oh fuck! there goes the damage deposit.  "Mud Flats" is the band's ecology song, "Coke is bad, Pepsi is bad, give me another glass of that bad, bad water" uh! I'll drink to that. "Tuesday Morning" opens the second side with a roar, "If you give me respect, I'll give you respect, Yeah that's what it is!, It's all about fucking respect, So Fuck You!" all punk rockers should have that tattooed somewhere on their bodies. 

"Carnivore" clues us in on the band's eating habits, "I'm a carnivore and I eat red meat, sometimes I'll drink about a pint of grease." his name is Bob and he's in a band called Steve  "So don't judge me by what I eat, I just gotta have my bloody meat."  "Little Respect" is about not getting enough respect, been there, done that.  "Cross the Line" is a general purpose, rage song, whose only salvation is some fierce instrumental interaction. "Jesus" closes the album, religious themes were popular with  Steve, "You jump on Jesus' pogo stick" they are believers, just don't force it down their throats. "Don't put in a good word for me, that's not the style I believe, cuz Jesus sucks."

Not exactly radio friendly fare, but let's face it, these guys were never going to get on the radio. Steve's music incorporated elements of the early 90's, Orange County punk sound, but with enough original ideas added, to give it a thunderous garage-crud vibe. The band was very tight and played with a higher degree of proficiency than most of their peers.  The production is uncluttered, Bob's singing is unforced, Dan Murphy delivers loads of savage guitar frenzy and Jeff Cohen is certainly an erstwhile drummer.  The tunes are chock full of dark humor mixed with wistful optimism, but as the album unfolds the band's mood starts to change. Perhaps sensing that this was a one shot deal, and that nothing would come of it, they pound out the remaining tracks with snarly aggression. Was  Steve, good enough to make you think twice about all the local bands that fell between the cracks? Oh Sure! and if cows had balls they would be bulls. Let's Wrap it up, I'm done here.

Bob Beckley