Veteran rock & roll outlaw Fred Cole started the band Dead Moon in 1988, and as befits a guy who built a career out of making music his own way, the group -- featuring Fred on guitar and vocals; his wife, Toody Cole, on bass and vocals; and Andrew Loomis on drums -- began cranking out records almost immediately, releasing them through their own Tombstone Records label. When the folks who run the German Music Maniac imprint discovered the band in 1990, they released a pair of LPs that collected the best of Dead Moon's first three years, Dead Moon Night and Thirteen Off My Hook. Now these two albums have been reissued on a single CD, and together they make an almost unbeatable collection of Dead Moon's formative period. Dead Moon seem to have been born fully formed from the minds of these three musicians, as the trio hasn't changed its approach or attack much with the passage of time, but the 27 tunes on this CD are powerfully raw and elemental stuff even by their standards; Fred's guitar runs are lacerating in their intense physicality, Toody's basslines are thick and strong, and Andrew's drumming has impact to spare but holds down the beat with no-frills precision. While the material runs from covers of country blues classics to urgent originals like "Black September," "54-40 or Fight," and "Walking on My Grave," the dominant theme is always people who are raging against the multitude of injustices the world heaps upon them, but Fred's hard, pleading vocals make it clear that he isn't about to accept defeat in this life, and the fact that Dead Moon are as active as ever more than 15 years after these albums were first released proves he still lives by this philosophy. While Sub Pop's superb Echoes of the Past compilation is the best introduction to Dead Moon's unjustifiably obscure body of work, this two-fer CD is a great overview of their early years, and this is a must for fans looking for the band's first few releases.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming