Wayne County & the Electric Chairs

Let Your Backbone Slip

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Ambitious, eclectic, and absolutely contagious, Let Your Backbone Slip is the successor to the dynamite Rock 'N Roll Cleopatra, a compilation that trawls a back catalog that too many people overlook -- but which most would certainly enjoy. Image and reputation notwithstanding, Jayne County's songwriting and performance evince an understanding of pop at its purest, one long series of electrifying jolts that evoke memories of a golden era as readily as they pinpoint the purpose of the modern age. That the modern age was usually too busy contemplating other charms at the time is its own problem. Chronologically, Let Your Backbone Slip opens by rounding up material from the first two Electric Chairs albums that was omitted from the earlier set; the avoidance of the group's third LP, the sensational Things Your Mother Never Told You, meanwhile, is at least partially remedied by the inclusion of three tracks from a 1979 BBC session. In truth, the performances are nowhere near as great as the originals -- "Berlin" is too fast, "Waiting for the Marines" is too straight -- but they're a fine inclusion regardless. The heart of Let Your Backbone Slip, however, delves into County's 1980s material, a period that received precious little attention at the time and allowed two excellent albums, Betty Grable's Legs and Private Oyster, to pass by unnoticed. Six tracks from the latter include the anthemic "Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl?," the Cossack-themed "I Fell in Love With a Russian Soldier," and the exquisite '60s girl group pastiche "The Lady Dye Twist" (chorus: "I want a wedding just like Lady Diana"), all three of which insist that County's grasp of rock & trash/kitsch & roll is as tight as it ever was at the height of her earlier, New York-centric fame. County's true appeal, however, exceeds whatever parameters that description might lay out. Great pop music should be sexy, fun, moving, and motivating. From the deifying "Max's" to the cruel "Bad in Bed," from the mocking "Mr Normal" to the moving "Love Lives on Lies," Let Your Backbone Slip is all four -- and then some.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:52
2 3:29
3 1:59
4 5:07
5 3:34
6 3:58
7 6:00
8 3:03
9 3:35
10 3:35
11 6:10
12 3:05
13 3:11
14 2:50
15 3:41
16 3:24
17 3:56
18 4:19
19
3:49
20 2:25
blue highlight denotes track pick