The Dead C

Harsh 70's Reality

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AllMusic Review by

While just about all of their albums are winners, for many fans Harsh 70s Reality is the unquestioned best Dead C release, a fact it's hard to argue with. Art and sheer rock power collide beautifully on this album, which transforms murky noise and open-ended jams into serenely chaotic wonder. That may sound like a strange assessment, but Harsh 70s Reality is as ambient as it is feedback-riddled, and the creative threesome behind it all know just how to balance everything out. "Driver UFO," the 22-minute-long opener, demonstrates this knack quite well, with a gentle keyboard part emerging halfway through against the rumbling hum and scrape of the guitars. It's arguably also the most song-oriented album from the group in a traditional sense, though the usual combination of recording approach and performance isn't exactly going to win over the VH1 audience. When the three add in vocals to the mayhem, everything sounds even more distanced and unsettling. Thus, on "Sky" the lead vocal sounds like the singer is on the verge of collapse and the backing shouts hollow and creepy, even as the main riff makes for one of the band's most accessible efforts. "Constellation," one of the most violent numbers (though as ever the quality of the recording makes it feel more gauzy and interesting), benefits even further from the gently deadpan vocal, like Sonic Youth but not so concerned about making things clear. One of the funnier moments comes with the start of the audibly from-the-other-side-of-the-venue live recording "Suffer Bomb Damage," especially since Robbie Yeats sounds like he's about to break into War's "Lowrider." Though Harsh 70s Reality is available on CD, the original vinyl is worth seeking out for the extra two tracks that couldn't fit on the digital format, especially the astonishing "Shark."

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