The Necros

Tangled Up/Live or Else

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The final Necros release hot-fused the band's straight-up punk roots with more than a little thrash on the one hand and classic rock chug on the other, whipping up a tight blast of a record clocking in at 26 minutes with not a note wasted. Given where Barry Henssler would go next with Big Chief, the funk-rock combination in his future wasn't yet apparent all the way -- not even on the tight riff explosion titled "Big Chief" itself, outside of a bit of falsetto fun on the chorus. Still, there's little question that Tangled Up showed both a perfection of the Necros' form and a range many bands would love to have. Henssler's singing has a hoarse bite and conversational sass to spare, his cracking, impassioned wail at points suggesting followers like Rites of Spring (and lots of emo well down the road from that). Meanwhile, Andy Wendler whips up searing riffs and even a bit of guitar solo fun without sounding like yet another wannabe in Guitar Center (check "Big Chief" again for his screwy twang break). The title track is probably his sublime moment, not to mention the rhythm section's, all effortlessly blending older boogie and post-blues struts with a more recent disaffection with life and problems. As with the album as a whole, it's a question of finding a balance and maintaining it, which is why the album can end on a piano-led orchestrated instrumental without sounding out of place. An open nod to earlier roots is confusing on sight, but once the idea of the Necros doing an early Pink Floyd song is dealt with, "The Nile Song," though not radically revisited, stomps along, echo chamber intact. And who could say no to an album with a classic Rat Fink cover courtesy of Ed "Big Daddy" Roth himself, after all? [In 2006, Restless Records reissued Tangled Up with a bonus live recording containing 13 tracks (Live or Else), many of which are duplicated on Tangled Up, and piped in crowd noise that makes it all kinda tinny even though the music is unhinged in places. There is also a live Ted Nugent medley at the end, a bit that must have made the Necros guitarist -- criminally unsung guitarist that is -- Andy Wendler ecstatic. This is one you gotta have.]

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