The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Vol. 1 features Powerman 5000 material from between 1991 and 1996, when they were still struggling members of the Boston rock scene. The sound, as you might expect, is a mixture of hip-hop, thrash, occasional electronics, and loopy funk metal -- all the elements that would eventually fuel their larger-than-life major label releases. Spider has been the band's ringleader/head cheerleader since the beginning, as this set proves -- his unique, gruff, Chuck D-meets-Joey Belladonna vocal style is in full bloom. The music has a tendency to become undefined, occasionally sounding like a more aggressive, less Bohemian version of early Red Hot Chili Peppers. But fans should nevertheless enjoy the formative quality of these recordings, since they still overflow with guitar, ambition, and absolutely booming basslines. Check out the alternate version of Mega!! Kung Fu Radio's "Earth vs. Me" that appears here, "Put the Hammer Down," or the roaring "Solid" (appearing in two versions), which could be a template for the sound Limp Bizkit took to the bank. "Even Superman Shot Himself" -- another song that would make its way on to the band's 1997 Dreamworks debut -- appears here in a 1991 form, while that album's "Organizized" and "20 Miles to Texas, 25 to Hell" are included as live bonus tracks from a college radio appearance. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly would've benefited from track-by-track liner information -- as it is, all we have to go on is the umbrella of 1991 -- 1996 and a few annotations. But that exclusion doesn't make the album any less important for Powerman fans. In addition to the 17 music tracks, the album features a few snippets of Spider stage banter, as well as a collage of early Powerman 5000 concert flyers.
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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus