Revisiting The Chrome Cranks

Oily Cranks cover art.

If, like me, you've ever wondered what Nirvana would have sounded like if Kurt

Cobain hadn't been haunted by the dual demons of punk and pop, then

you'll want to check out Oily Cranks (Atavistic), a nine-song

compilation of rare 7" tracks and assorted singles from NYC's notorious Chrome


Raw in the extreme, but never succumbing to mere noise-making, on

songs like the distorto "Fool On Ice," the band's first-ever release, which

features singer Peter Aaron wailing through a Big Muff fuzz box that makes his

voice sound like a shredded tire, the Cranks play a dirty, muddy punk blues not

heard since the days of Alan Vega's crash-and-burnt duo Suicide. Which is

appropriate, since their vinyl-only cover of Suicide's "Cool As Ice," recorded

for the 1994 Suicide tribute Your Invitation to Suicide, is a muddy,

skeletal, dead-on homage to Suicide singer Alan Vega's whooping, hollering

style of snarling blues.

Swirling space zapper "Comeback," not

surprisingly, features guitar from the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne, and the most

stripped-down lyrics this side of the Ramones, which adds up to "I know you're

comin' back again," repeated over and over until the whole thing is sucked back

into a white dwarf of static and feedback.

If it sounds like your speakers

are blown out on the driving, droning, screeching last song "I Was Sleeping",

that's good, it's what the Cranks want, and it's what you should want,