Plasmatics

Coup de Grace

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This 2000 disc (re-released in 2002 by Plasmatics Media) constitutes the only album of fresh material from the Plasmatics since their disbanding in 1983. Fresh but not unfamiliar, Coup de Grace is made up of the demos for the band's 1982 release, Coup d'Etat. And as one might expect, it's raw and raunchy stuff. In toto, this is a somewhat uneven effort. Some songs are quite strong; others don't stack up so well. But what's always fascinating about the 'Matics is the band's sociopolitical rant-observations, which came at a time when most of the music world was dressing up in skinny ties and jumping on the new wave fun bus. It's hard to ignore a song like "Uniformed Guards" with a lyric that goes: "Uniformed guards take your neighbors away in the night/Turn out the lights and keep yourself out of sight/On the six o'clock news they say everything's really all right." Considering that 20 years later George W. Bush's America was living under the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act, and fundamentally altering the notions of individual privacy and civil liberties, the Plasmatics don't seem quite as disposable as many critics have claimed. The plum tracks are the leadoff number, "Put Your Love in Me" (which later showed up on the 2002 compilation disc of the same name), the thudding metal warning song "Stop" ("Stop, with the rape of the Earth/You were not made for this/Stop, with your campaign of hate/Stop, before it's too late"), the AC/DC-like "Rock n Roll," and a pretty hot cover of Motörhead's "No Class." While the Cars were singing about shaking it up back in the early '80s, wildcat frontwoman Wendy O. Williams and the Plasmatics were doing their damnedest to do just that. Which is about as rock & roll as it gets.

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