New York Rocker
#43, Oct. 1981

Various Artists

   So which would you rather be: unknown or "immortalized" by Breaking Away? If the 16 bands on the Red Snerts (anagram: Rent Dress, get it?) sometimes seem a little too foot-shufflin' unassuming - and they do - it's at least not hard to figure why. The Gizmos sing "The Midwest Can Be Allright" (but not too often, I guess, or they wouldn't've moved to NJ). The liner notes solicit correspondence with the query: "Like those bands? Maybe one or two of 'em?" and elsewhere promise, "If Hoosier Land has anything, it's right here on Red Snerts." And let me tip my hand and say yes, Hoosier L. has something.
   Only fair to start with the brainchildren. Mr. Moneybags Bob Wino keeps the profile low, taking the odd pic, producing an occasional cut, that's it. Jamie X. Jetson and Scientific Brad Garton (Mr. Science, I presume), however, let the proverbial all hand out. Jamie's tough-guy vocal on the Jetsons' "I Bet Not" might be a little ludicrous, but it's not, even though he's singing stuff like, "I'm gonna puke, I'm gonna vomit on your feet, But you're such a cliched bug[think it's "bug" - not too sure], you'd think I was bein' neat." In fact, it's durnright O.K., thanks to on-the-nose innocent garage production that captures those ringing rhythm guitars and neat electric piano fills in all their considerable glory. Chorus takes a nifty melodious turn, too, as Jamie warbles, "Would you go away if I burned down your house? I bet not." If anybody burned down Scientific Brad G.'s house that'd be the end of Red Snerts, because most of it was either recorded or remixed in his studio, and that unfortunately includes his yucko electronic star-turn, "Mr. Science." (Bugaboo: all those electronics.)
   Highlights. Phil Hundle needs a new stop-watch; his "30 Second Affair" lasts but :29, but you gotta admire the economy of a guitar and (the Last Four (4) Digits' Joh Koss's) drum sound that can thrash like this one can. (Speaking of the L4D - their "Diddy Wah Diddy" is pretty superfluous, but it's nice to see it dedicated to George Scott. Maybe they never heard Beefheart's version either.) "Pink Lincoln" is Post Raisin Bran's no-frills, no-problems rocker about cruising in a guess-what. Zero Boys' "New Generation" takes punk to the cutter's edge: "Don't dance like Fred Astaire." E-in Brino aren't as good as their name, but hey, Red Snerts practically disoperates quality as a yardstick. Really. It reminds me of the Happy Squid Sampler: some cuts're good, some bad, but they all have that unassuming charm, that feeling of "oh boy, makin' a record" not "watch out, makin' a statement"... all you have to do is listen between the grooves.
   Two more things. Another good song(right at the beginning) is a quasi-reggae poptune gone haywire called "Designer Genes" by Amoebas in Chaos. And lastly, lest I mislead, about that Happy Squid comparison: even if you took the Red S. Top-5 and pitted 'em against the Happy S. 5, the Squids'd come out on top. Just means there's two records you ought to hear.

by Ira Kaplan