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FEARLESS LEADER
God Bless the Devil (Gulcher Records) $10

Los Angeles was built on good vibes and bad times. Things are never what they seem. Just when you think you've sunk into something sweet, the bitch snarls back and tries to bite off yer weenie. That's why sometimes you gotta radiate bad vibes to conjure up a few good times.

I can't think of any SoCal noisemakers of recent vintage who can goose them bad spots as good as Fearless Leader. These mofos spent a good chunk of the late 80s and most of the the 90s alienating fans, friends, club owners, alleged punks, avowed hippies, and other hapless California creatures. Who really wants to see a grown man shove Spam up his butt? What idiot wants to witness giant paper-mache penises toppling onto the green lawn of a quiet campus park? Why would anybody like a band that sets fires on the stages of clubs already panicked by local authorities? Smoke bombs, ugly naked men, bad makeup and retarded glam moves, fuzzed-out wah-wah guitar till your ears bleed--these evil-doers have a little bit of everything you don't want.

In spite of how repulsive you may find these anti-social creeps, their recordings always burn with the same rockin' intensity as the Stooges, Kiss, the New York Dolls, and similar 70s icons--but crossed with a deep philosophy of stupe that's not unlike the early drool of the Dictators, the Gizmos, and the Angry Samoans. That they also love to dredge up the religious damage of their early lives only adds to the fun 'n frolic of drunken stoned fools who know that Satan will always come out looking cooler and sounding badder, even if he's still gonna lose in the end. R&R has always been played best by arrogant losers and the willfully brain damaged among us.

This group of misfits has undergone many personnel changes over the years, but at the center since 1988 has been Sarge and Alien Rock on guitars and vocals. Sarge does the wigged-out Detroit-fueled lead-guitar noise, and the story goes that this dude really did grow up in the Motor City, permanently scarred as a pre-teen while witnessing live shows by the Stooges and the MC5. Alien Rock is more of the rhythm man. He's the one who sings the songs with the high nasal whine, and although he's been known to deny it, I've heard he's played in more L.A. bands than you can shake yer dick at. Among those he's allegedly played with are the Lazy Cowgirls, Crawlspace, Hot Damn, AC3, Big Dad & 10 Lbs. of Swingin' Meat, and the Leaving Trains. The most recent Fearless Leader drummer Bobzilla has also been rumored to play with many other bands (Claw Hammer, Crawlspace, Hot Damn, the Rotters, Nastasya Filippovna, Mike Watt, etc.). Bass player Chief Running Sore is even more mysterious than the others. The only bit of info this writer has come across is his supposed involvement with sacred mushrooms and a very hot girlfriend.

God Bless the Devil  is only the second full-length release by Fearless Leader. The first, produced by Jeff Dahl and released on Hell Yeah Records, was entitled #;! and served as the soundtrack to the band's notorious 1992 direct-to-video trash-horror-rock-smut movie Graveyard Rot. Fearless Leader made its debut on the 1988 comp LP Gimme the Keys, and has also released a couple of 7" records. True to the chaotic nature of this lousy bunch, God Bless the Devil was recorded in 1997, released in a tiny CDR edition in 2002, and is only now being brought to your mundane, meaningless world by Gulcher Records. I hate to have to say it about such a group of goons, but this shit smokes like little else I've heard in recent years. No halfway punk, no faked-up metal, nothing at all for the "artistic" types who think R&R is beneath them.

The disc opens with "Doin' Donuts," an inspired bit of nonsense featuring vocals and lyrics from Fearless Leader pal Saverio Goffredo (R.I.P.), who left this stupid planet a couple years back. My other favorite thing here is the title track, written by Alien Rock and ex-FL member John Hancock. Alien Rock chants (or raps?!) the chorus: "Jesus is the guy with the crown of thorns/Satan is the guy with the horns." The guitars are spazzy in a perfect James Williamson/Johnny Thunders manner that can't be learned by youngsters who didn't really live through the 70s. Like the entire album, this is drenched in confusion and underlying noise that modern by-the-numbers rockers can't even comprehend. A. Rock also whines out the vocals on "Am I Goin' Ta Hell," with whirring feedback guitar floating on top (or is it a synth?).

Most of the album is sung, written, or co-written by mainman and self-proclaimed genius Sarge (a.k.a. Dr. Sleaze). There's a killer version of "Move a Little," which appeared in its original form on the '88 Gimme the Keys comp. The lyrics are as profound as ever: "Sittin' at home in my underwear/Baby, I-I-I-I-I I don't care!" And the music grinds away like an outtake from Raw Power. Another fave rave is "Gotta Get My Shit Together," with Sarge repeating the title over and over and over until he throws up a verse of sexual bravado worthy of a bluesman with a boner, while spewing out shards of wah-wah metal. "I Got the Stuff" contains even more bragging from the doctor of lustful hate.

"Toxic Crotch" is an insensitive ode to a skank: "She's got a toxic crotch/You know it stinks a lot." "She Got Cancer" also uses the most basic 50s-style R&R, but pumped up through Detroit-style proto-punk, like everything else here.  The music is pure Chuck Berry/Heartbreakers. "Get With It" is a collaboration between Sarge and A. Rock, and sounds like very early L.A. punk (anybody remember the Controllers?).

Bassist Chief Running Sore contributes the excellent "Secret Snake," filled with 70s riffage and cosmic lyrics that could crack open the Necronomicon and release all sorts of groovy elder gods. Why is there fungus sprouting from my carpet? Who let the Illuminati in the house?

But seriously, folks, God Bless the Devil stinks real sweet 'n hard. And the Fearless Leader guys are no more creepy than you and yours friends. Yeah, they're really that bad. May Satan bless you all! Rock on!

--Eddie Flowers