Happy Flowers

Lasterday I Was Been Bad

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    8
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Lasterday I Was Been Bad shows the Happy Flowers bowing out of the recording realm, and its only major flaw is poor vocal micing. Mr. Anus and Mr. Horribly Charred Infant wield their preschool-perspective shouts as skillfully as they manifest joyful noise with guitar and drums (and a bass guitar allegedly stomped by Mr. HCI while he drummed) so straining that you need to listen closely to catch the gems -- Anus assuming both sides of a Christian ethics debate throughout "I Don't Want To Share," or Mr. HCI yelping that on his birthday "My Gramma gave me five bucks/ Whaddya think this is/ nineteen-fifteeeeeeeee!?!" -- it's almost frustrating, but finally becomes fruitful. Parts of this actually sound like a tight, passionate, punk three-piece; with Scott Pickering's muscular drums on about half the tracks. "Leave Me Alone," for example, could have snuck into the Replacements' Stink, though when Anus' guitar solo picks its way down the scale like a daddy longlegs and then emits a shower of sparks, you know he's elected to forget everything Bob Stinson learned from Ted Nugent. It's largely "the anal one's" show vocally until Mr. HCI takes over for the last quarter of the album. He dry-gargles with abandon throughout Big Star's "Thirteen," evoking -- perhaps deliberately -- that burrito-bake timbre Big Star's Alex Chilton brought to his first hit (the Box Tops' "The Letter"), and producing a cover anyone would put side-by-side with the original. Of the two other covers, UFO's "Rock Bottom" squeezes out satisfyingly, but the album closer, Silver Apples' "A Pox On You," zestily revives a snarly tune from a then-obscure act. Instrumental tracks "Embryo" (neither Sabbath, Floyd, nor Illinois Jacquet), and "Mr. Fuck" (featuring sitar and tabla) offer some much-needed seasoning, showing that the fellows could actually play their instruments; much as their cover songs always pulled back the curtain on their infantilism to reveal erudite fellows with decent record collections, or at least college radio station pre-sets. The instrumentals provide pleasant breathers, but aren't necessary. The dynamic duo's chops and leanings gave them room to roam. Their central conceit of "Two Who Can't Read (Or Reach The Table) Against The World took them much further than any side-road ever could have.

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