The Mutants

Giddyup Mutants

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While it might be going a bit far to call the Mutants the best rock band to come out of Detroit's new wave scene of the late '70s and early '80s, they were certainly near the top of the heap, and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who saw them in their heyday who doesn't have fond memories of their hooky but hard-edged pop/rock and smart, snotty, and politically incorrect lyrical stance. The band cut two classic singles and a few compilation tracks before its original lineup splintered in 1981 (George Clinton, of all people, produced an album for the band that sadly was never completed), and while a later edition of the group released a six-song 12", the Mutants were destined to be another one of those great underground bands that never made an album. However, the group's original lineup -- Art Lyzak on vocals, Tom Morwatts on guitar, Pasadena on guitar and keyboards, John Amore on bass, and Steve Sortor on drums -- reunited in 1996 for a show at their old stomping grounds, Lili's 21 in Hamtramck, MI (with Stoney Uchalik filling a few gaps on guitar, bass, and keys), and the Mutants had the presence of mind to record and release the proceedings. (Adding to the joke was the fact the Mutants' show was booked for the same night as the Detroit stop of the Sex Pistols' "Filthy Lucre" tour.) Giddyup Mutants isn't quite the Mutants albums fans had been dreaming of for 15 years -- the bandmembers are in solid form, but they don't sound quite as good as they did back in the day, while the live recording lacks the punch of the "So American" and "Cafe au Lait" singles, and it's a shame such classics as "Whatever Happened to Quaaludes" and "What a Bunch of Assholes" couldn't have made the cut. But what is here sounds damn good; the band builds up a healthy head of steam by the end of the set, and it's nice to finally have "Pizza," "Coffee," and "Happy Weasels" on plastic after all these years. Giddyup Mutants offers proof at last that the Mutants deserved more than they got -- they were smart, funny, and knew how to rock, and here they prove they could still do all that after a decade-and-a-half layoff. Not bad at all.

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