"To appreciate the Gore Gore Girls' music," writes schlock-film mastermind Herschell Gordon Lewis in the sleeve notes to Get the Gore, "you have to have a streak of wildness, a fierce independence of spirit, and an absolute belief in the unusual, the strange, the unpredictable, the offbeat and even the generally unacceptable." Lewis, the guy who brought us such glorious drive-in fare as Scum of the Earth, Bloodfeast and yes, The Gore Gore Girls, happens to be an expert on all of these subjects. And it's only natural that the man known for assembling entire movies from scenes shot with no more than one take could appreciate the kind of raunchy immediacy that the Girls have been dishing out since coming onto the Motor City scene about a decade ago.
It's one thing to take your band's name from the title of an obscure movie; it's quite another to track down its director and have him write the liners to your album. But if the Gore Gore Girls are known for one thing besides high-velocity, ironically mannered rock 'n' roll with a well-considered sense of style it's the sheer force of dedication that recently landed them on Chicago's Bloodshot Records.
After two albums for Get Hip and a self-released EP, the quartet inked with Bloodshot in early 2007, right after putting the finishing touches on Get the Gore at Ghetto Recorders in Detroit.
Roaring out of the gate with the live favorite "Fox in a Box," it's immediately clear that there was no overthinking going on during the band's time spent with producer Jim Diamond. The sound and performance is as rough-and-ready as it is sharp, with an atmosphere that's downright cathartic (yeah, cathartic). The girls' hallmark remains the dueling Gretsch guitars of founding member Amy Gore and longtime partner-in-crime Hammer, whose miniskirts and go-go boots bolster the heady fuzztone, power chords and screaming leads. Drummer Nicky Styxx ably pounds the skins while the Reigning Sound/Detroit Cobra Carol Anne Schumacher lends her anchor-note bass rumbles to the proceedings.
The aforementioned "Fox" is actually a wet smooch to X-rated pop-star Peaches, who figures into the Girls' musical mythology right alongside funk-ass queen Betty Davis, six-string spell-casters Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Ike Turner, and every great girl group from the Ronettes to the Runaways.
Yes, the chicks know their history. And it's stamped all over Get The Gore, which winds its way through 10 originals and four superbly unearthed covers so obscure that even their Bloodshot cover-specialist label-mates Detroit Cobras will take notice.
Amy's vocals are loaded up with tough rock 'n' roll strut one minute and sweet Spectoresque Brill Building melody the next. Hence, the nitty gets separated from the gritty: Any rocker worth their salt can handle the former; very few can manage the latter. And dig the Gore classic "Sweet Potato" or the Greenwich-Berry chestnut "All Grown Up," recast as a pop rave-up so gum-smackingly sweet that it's the album's centerpiece. Amy's wide-ranging vocal nuances are equally convincing on the hip-pumping "Casino," the garage balladry of "You Lied to Me Before" (aided by Hammer's weirdly hypnotic and staccato guitar lead) and the maraca-rich "Little Baby."
"Pleasure Unit," meanwhile, deserves attention: In the writing process, the song's lyrics were originally dictated over the phone by rock 'n' roll "Svengali" Kim Fowley. But the song was finished quickly fitting perfectly a melody that Gore and Hammer had buzzing in their brains. (Fowley, you'll recall, is rock 'n' roll's version of Herschell Gordon Lewis: the ultimate eccentric hustler-cum-artist.) The song is classic Fowley: a cultural observation about "Eating cake and credit cards" that finds Amy delivering such lines as "I'm more than your pet or pussycat/ I'm a freak/ I'm a geek/ I'm a dirty rat" with deadpan hilarity.
Get The Gore is bloody good and upholds the honor of schlockmeister Herschell Gordon Lewis's words. No shit.
Record release show: Friday, June 29, at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700, with the Muldoons; 9 p.m.; 18 and older.
Michael Hurtt writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].