Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Ism

  • A Diet for the Worms [Original Sin, 1983] C+
  • Constantinople [Broken Box EP, 1984] B+
  • Nightmare at Noon [Raw Power EP, 1987] B

Consumer Guide Reviews:

A Diet for the Worms [Original Sin, 1983]
Liberal plaints about hardcore protofascism are so ignorant that it's a little surprising to find a band who fit the bill. Oh, they do an anti-Moonie number and probably couldn't hack it in the KKK, but "Put on Your Warpaint" ("They send us spies/We send them grain") is galloping anti-Russkie paranoia and "White, Straight and Male" ("I'm a victim of the quota system") middle-class backlash at its most vicious. Relatively oblique about race ("no speak-a English") and women ("I don't wanna catch your herpes"), they make it up on gays; though homophobia is only to be expected in sexually insecure young men whose brains are up their asses, and though pedophilia is hardly beyond criticism, I do think "Man/Boy Love Sickie"--"You've got no human rights/We have to protect"--goes a bit far. Worst of all, sometimes they make it stick: "White Castle at 3 A.M." and "Dance Club Meat Market" are riotously memorable, two more scary reminders that lots of straight white males are feeling more squeeze than their talents deserve these days. C+

Constantinople [Broken Box EP, 1984]
These posthardcore miscreants cop to their boho dreams: a Residents cover and a Fugs cover surround a goosy pseudo-'60s psychechoogle and some sexist-agist puritan-in-reverse yah-yah yuh-yah-yah about fucking old ladies (bet some of 'em are at least fifty). Bet one thing that gets them all enragé is that back when the Fugs (not to mention fifty-year-old ladies) were coming up, bohos didn't have to choose between getting a job and living with Mom and Dad. B+

Nightmare at Noon [Raw Power EP, 1987]
Years later, two strong but unmomentous pieces of power pop and an instrumental snippet. As Handsome Dick Manitoba put it long ago: "This is just a hobby for me." B