The darkest and best of Armand Schaubroeck's onslaught of recordings from the '70s, this descent into the gutter is the underground version of Lou Reed's Street Hassle. Both recordings were released in 1978, and both feature the artist on the cover with sunglasses reflecting a twinkle from the light. Schaubroeck may have been mimicking what Reed put out to the world -- Street Hassle was released in March of 1978, Ratfucker recorded in June and released sometime after -- but regardless of the intentional cop, Schaubroeck sure is persuasive. Street Hassle is Reed once again on the outside looking in; as with Berlin, his narration is detached from the violence he explores. Armand Schaubroeck, on the other hand, is a convicted criminal, so the rat with a knife through its throat on the front cover, dripping blood on Schaubroeck's hand, is totally believable. "Ratfucker," the title track, is the best Lou Reed song Reed never wrote, but there is no doubt this is spawned from the former leader of the Velvet Underground's work. The three minutes and 47 seconds of depravity are perfectly recorded, unlike the Richard Robinson/Lou Reed experiment with "binaural sound." No -- Ratfucker has the sound and the vibe promised by Street Hassle, the unnerving, cold, heartless tale of a man who robs babies and sells them for 4,000 dollars to perspective parents: "Anything you want C.O.D. baby/C.O.D. on my block." The vocal, the intensity of the backing singers, the band, and the production -- everything is first-rate. "Oh sex, I gave it up a long time ago," sings the Ratf*cker. The scat "whaddya want" at the end conflicting with the girl singers, keyboards, and pounding drums is just great dementia. It is a classic track that trumps the master. And the rest of the album is right up there, a pseudo-rockabilly "I Love Me, More Than You," "The Independent Hitter's" driving sound with looping guitars. This album has so many vulgarities the listener becomes numb to the F word, but if ever music can be made to disperse pent-up aggression, this might be it. What rappers would eventually put a beat behind, Armand Schaubroeck rattles off with a worrisome ease. "I doubt if you'll ever hear this record on the radio" is written under the Mirror Records logo, and that may be true, but perhaps radio needs to play an album like Ratfucker. "The Queen Hitter" is an 11-minute-and-40-second epic which vacillates between nicking the James Bond theme and "Zip a Dee Doo Dah," while cleverly avoiding already explored riffs; the album is careful to show a sick creativity. Armand Schaubroeck's voice has a disturbing glee that romps throughout each track with the authority of a hitman. This is truly demented genius and is light years beyond shock. It is a relatively unknown writer/singer coming up with an extraordinary work under his own steam and on his own terms. Classic underground rock & roll that is not for everyone.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione