Review: A Redd Kross Rescue

Redd Kross /Neurotica (reissue)/Merge
3.5 out of five stars

A rowdy, raucous affair, even by power-pop standards, Neurotica, the unbridled opus of the alternative band known as Redd Kross, shook some musical foundations when it was initially released in 1987. And while a 37th anniversary edition seems like an odd number in terms of commemoration, this newly remastered edition, available as a double CD as well as a two LP edition, should find favor with finalists and enthusiasts alike. A dozen demos complete the original 14-song set, adding further impact to what has always been an audio extravaganza.

Each of the original offerings found the band, originally founded by brothers Jeff McDonald and Steve McDonald, in their living room in Hawthorne, California around 1978. Heavily influenced by the hardcore punk ethos of Southern California, in especially bands like Black Flag, the Circle Jerks, and the Descendants – they fused the cultural norms of the early teens with the influence of various icons from that earlier era and created a sound that resonated with irresistible hooks and choruses ready, allowing them to maintain their absolute devotion to more melodic intentions. So even though songs such as the title track, “Janus, Jenny and George Harrison”, “McKenzie”, “Peach Kelli Pop”, “What They Say” and “Play My Song” generated pure sonic outrage, they also allowed for the occasional softer stay like “Love Is You”, “Pink Piece of Peace” and “It’s the Little Things”, the latter two selections included as bonus features on the original 2002 reissue.

Everything served its purpose. Sub Pop co-founder Jonathan Poneman was quoted as saying, “Neurotica changed my life and the lives of many people in the Seattle music community. For [a band] to embrace something so gross and shamelessly packaged – there was something really punk about doing that at the time. Redd Kross, in turn, served as a lightning rod for a number of important outfits that would follow, including replacements, Superchunk and Nirvana.

Notably, the demo record finds the band more aware of both song structure and their own melodic constraints. Each of these entries would have worked well had the band chosen not to embellish them further. As a result, they are an attractive alternative to the original album and, in turn, are well worth the cost of the extra investment.

Punk and pop, garage and grunge were merged so specifically that they were finally able to establish a signature sound of their own making. In fact, they establish a kind of mantra: “You can write a chorus your own mother could hum and still be considered the baddest band on the fucking planet.”

Then and now Neurotica succinctly proves this point.

Photo by John Scarpati/Merge Records

About Joan J. Hernandez

Check Also

Jimmy Eat World’s Zach Lind Talks About An American Who’s Bleeding For 30 Years And The Band’s Future(s)

Jimmy Eat World. // photo courtesy of the artist Next year rock ‘n’ rollers Jimmy …