Suran Song in Stag

Cowboys & Indians

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You'll do a double take when you see and hear this ambitious double LP, the Manchester, NJ, band's third. The sleeve is a close replication of the cover for Gang of Four's immortal 1979 LP, Entertainment, and half the songs are as immediately recognizable: "Natural's Not in It" and "I Found That Essence Rare" were in fact from Entertainment, and seven other covers also date from the original post-punk era -- the Chills' Submarine Bells chugger "Familiarity Breeds Contempt" being the most surprising. The rest: the Jam's The Gift track "Ghost," 10,000 Maniacs' "My Mother the War," Lords of the New Church's "Open Your Eyes," Throwing Muses' "Hate My Way," the Pretenders' "Tattooed Love Boys," and, improbably, Duran Duran's "Friends of Mine." But this is no tribute LP, not hardly! All are recorded in SSIS's established style, as if they'd written them; some you can barely recognize at all! These revisions are heavier, way more industrial, and more grinding and scathing, like an old Big Black, Ministry, or early Sonic Youth record (it's produced by Martin Bisi). Moreover, the songs are juxtaposed with similar-sounding originals in a precise, thematic manner, to tell the larger story implicit in Entertainment's exchange between a duplicitous cowboy and a trusting Indian. (A simplistic view of the European conquest of America, but close enough in art evocation.) It's how one's perception from media and commercial art culture is often the reverse of the actual unpleasant truth. Finally, an LP that makes you think.

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