Originally released by Subterranean in 1987 and buffed up for a fine Infinite Zero/American reappearance in the mid-'90s, with hilarious and heartfelt liner notes from hardcore fan Mark Arm, Sex Bomb Baby! is a blast and a half, drawing together singles, compilation appearances, and other oddities. The emphasis is on earlier days -- nothing on the album comes from later than 1982 -- and the sheer amount of cool, obscure material in one place is a dream. "Sex Bomb" itself starts everything off in its scuzzy, frenetic glory, from the whistling bomb sounds to the thunder and rain opening, not to mention the explosive, oppressive crunch of the band and Shatter's almost crazed yelps. From there it's a dip into both more familiar numbers like "Love Canal" and a sometimes nutty range of covers and originals both. "Ha Ha Ha" is humor of the blackest kind -- it almost shouldn't work, but Lose's extreme cackling in the chorus over the idiocies of modern life succeeds and then some. Despite the familiar name, "Lowrider" is an amusing, semi-jazzy original about supposedly being cool, but the real trip when it comes to interpreting others' material is the nursery rhyme "The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly." A slew of live and live in studio recordings also surface, including a great rant through "Ever" that has the band trashing idiotic audience members for crushing younger people among their number. Throughout, though the band works with a variety of producers, its bloody-minded aesthetic comes through clearly -- take it at the speed necessary, be deliberate but don't worry about being sloppy around the edges. Balanced off just enough with their own kind of musical hooks, it made for a great fusion that blows out speakers the right way 20 years later.
Sex Bomb Baby! Review
by Ned Raggett