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By the time they recorded Cuacha!, the Sidewinders had almost figured out what kind of band they wanted to be. On some cuts here the Hüsker Dü-goes-West mix of acoustic textures and roaring guitar is almost perfect. "I Guess It Doesn't Matter" and "Blood on Our Hands" are punk-pop masterpieces driven by Rich Hopkins' snarling guitars and Dave Slutes' country-inflected but brash singing. Unfortunately, the cuts where drummer Andrea Curtis takes on the vocal chores don't work as well, not because she isn't a good singer but because her voice just doesn't fit the material. The album is worth having for the good cuts and for the first released version of "What She Said," a song that the band released on three different albums, each time rocking a bit harder and at greater length. The version here is a dark, mournful folk-rock piece that is quite unlike the ten-minute epic on Witchdoctor, and utterly different from the 20-minute rave-up version that occurred when the band played live. Cuacha! is worth seeking out for Sidewinders fans just to hear the first version of that song, and for fans of Hopkins' later projects to hear what he sounded like with his first band.

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