Recordings

NoMeansNo
The Worldhood of the World (As Such)
(Alternative Tentacles)

Victoria, British Columbia, residents NoMeansNo are probably the closest thing to a prog-rock band that hardcore has, and brothers Rob and John Wright might very well be the Jonathan Swifts of the post-punk epoch. Over the past 14 years, the curmudgeonly Canucks have made a few modest proposals of their own (i.e., "Kill Everyone Now" from 1993's Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy?), dissecting humanity's foibles with acerbic wit and clinical precision over intricate song structures made all the more impressive by the manic pace with which they're executed.

Unmercifully caustic as they may be, though, they're nonetheless a welcome presence, because 1) they're unassailably correct in so many of their assessments; 2) they're more likely to include themselves among the flawed race they're reproaching than not; 3) it's probably hurting them more than it's hurting you; and 4) as they point out in their latest apologia, "State of Grace," "If I take a shit in your perfect world, it's only so you'll know me by my smell."

On The Worldhood of the World (As Such), the music is less technically ambitious than it's been on previous efforts, but that only serves to make the hooks and lyrical barbs that accompanies it that much sharper. After the opening "Joy," a one-word paean to an unnamed subject, the band wastes no time in getting to the matter at hand: "Humans" assumes the voice of a carnival barker to catalog the fatal follies of an "immaculate if ill-conceived" race, observing the "little monkeys making money/ Naked monkeys looking funny/ Monkeys wrong or monkeys right/ Mostly flexing monkey might." Likewise, "My Politics" presents the most repugnant protagonist since American Psycho, one who exonerates himself thusly: "What is the bitter explanation for the violence of my indignation?/ Well, it's as plain as the nose on my face/ I am a member of the human race." Nuff said on that count, especially if you've already bought into the Wrights' worldview.

But the release isn't all piss and vinegar: The closing "The Jungle" offers an oddly appropriate sense of resolve (even if its fractured funk backdrop leans a little too heavily on fIREHOSE derivations), hinting that there may indeed be peace to be found for the perpetually cynical heart. Meanwhile, "Lost," though typically savage musically, recounts a peculiarly touching narrative of a man who rummages through the wreckage of a nuclear winter, searching vainly for a loved one (even if he did shut the shelter door on her before the Big Blast). Post-apocalyptic romanticism? May the monkeys rejoice.

-- Tim Kenneally

Leonard Nimoy
Mr. Spock's Music From Outer Space
(Varese Sarabande)

William Shatner
The Transformed Man
(Varese Sarabande)

These two reissues of acid-drenched late-'60s TV tie-ins are even more unsettling than you remember. Leonard Nimoy no doubt assumed that his short-lived matinee-worthy looks and benign alien image would usher him out of the U.S.S. Enterprise and into the laps of many a chickadee. Though several of his recordings would unfortunately be from the heart, Outer Space is not one of them, and one must scold the producers of Mr. Spock's Music From Outer Space for pairing all of the titular album with half of Nimoy's more sincere Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy when there was plenty of room for all of it. Or none of it.

Who are they trying to fool? What does the generally astral-themed first album (which includes the instrumental "Theme From Star Trek" -- yes, there is a brief Nimoy vocal, Weill/Anderson's "Lost in the Stars," and the Shatneresque recitation "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Earth") have to do with the peaceful, Rod McKuenesque nut crunching of Two Sides?

But wait! Perhaps it's a symbolic comment on how Star Trek became so deeply embedded in Nimoy's psychoanalytic concerns. Some might link the implicit semiotic relationship between Selleck, Guttenberg, and Danson in the Nimoy-directed 3 Men and a Baby to the Kirk/Spock/Bones triumvirate but for the fact that it doesn't make any sense. Note that Nimoy titled his latest book I Am Spock, while 20 years ago he released a formerly definitive tome called I Am Not Spock. You are what you eat, and Nimoy is crow.

Shatner, on the other hand, has vocal talent equivalent to Marlon Brando's acting skills, and the comparisons don't end there. Both thespians are short men who love the villain, and like Brando, Shatner is certainly high-minded and never less than ambitious, hence tracks titled "Hamlet" and "Romeo and Juliet." Unfortunately, they are penned by one Don Ralke rather than Shakespeare, but this only underscores Shatner's Deweyesque philosophy. Likewise, Ralke's orchestrations are a textbook example of a former zeit-guy attempting to mount a dead horse that's flogging itself. Again, I think of Brando's films of the mid-'60s.

KUSF radio has given such method-acted tunes as "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" and "Mr. Tambourine Man" -- both songs marked by the cadences of one severely fucked-up individual -- plenty of play, but it's the recitations (the "Theme From Cyrano" in particular) that allow Shatner to embarrass himself so strongly that we want to take him home and lick his wounds. Space is not the final frontier so much as chutzpah.

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