Thursday, 11 December 2008



Cracks In The Sidewalk was a six band six song twelve inch compilation put out by New Alliance for its first release in 1980.  New Alliance was the label set up in California by Mike Watt and D. Boon from the Minutemen with their friend Martin Tamburovich much fuelled by the DIY ethos of neighbours SST Records.  Indeed this selection features a number of acts that either had or would have records released on the label as well as featuring artwork by Raymond Pettibon, Greg Ginn’s brother.

Similar to another New Alliance compilation Chunks, this record is best known for being the home to “Clocked In” by Black Flag which for years was a staple in their set and indeed what Henry Rollins recollects as being the first song he sang with the band.

Cracks In The Sidewalk appropriately opens with the Minutemen being the first band to appear on the label’s first release (it being their label after all).  “9.30 May 2” is the expected exciting clash of Captain Beefheart construct and Wire efficiency.  Barely longer than a minute D. Boon gets in some solid yells as it all bubbles along nicely eventually asking the question: “what does America mean to you?” to the response “America means everything to me”.  This is not them speaking with their own voices.

With that follows the aforementioned “Clocked In” before Saccharine Trust drops in with “Hearts And Barbarians” which houses a heavy bassline sounding like an Australian/mockney version of the Dead Kennedys exhibiting concerns about the end of the world.  The literal take on lyrics is refreshing and wonderfully verbal.

The second side begins with the warped stylings of Kindled Imagination who offer a minute of rattles and childish gestures with “Cowboy & Indian Scene”.  It’s a very frustrating sound.

Things remain warped with Artless Entanglements offering some kind of No Wave free jazz in the form of the horror show that is “How’s The Blood Taste?”  It is very much the sound of somebody out of their mind attempting to assault while barely being able to insult you.  The screams are audible but the aggression unmeasured and unlikely to be assumed.

Sharp Corners close the compilation with an equally free jazz feel exhibiting a lightweight take on James Chance serving to infuriate anyone not in on the joke.  Horns are played like birthday treats.  It’s a broken scene.

I love this record.

Thesaurus moment: pavement.

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