Can I Drive Your Commodore? – Grindhouse (Off The Hip)
There’s a school of thought that says continual exposure to dumb rock and roll will lower your I.Q. by a significant degree. Well, fuck that. You don’t need to be a Rhodes Scholar to enjoy hard and fast, Real Rock Action. But don’t be getting off on your snobbery trip, either.
Rock and roll can be thoughtful, intelligent and insightful. That doesn’t stop it also being thicker than a San Franciscan fog. Chuck Berry had his subversive moments, but “Johnny B Goode” ain’t one of them. Little Richard: “A whop bop a lu lop a-whop bam boo”? What the fuck is that about? Don’t even mention “Ob-la-di ob-la-da”. It’s a shit song anyway.
The point is that you can like smart rock and simultaneously roll around in the swill trough. It shouldn’t be one or the other. They’re not mutually exclusive. The Franklin School were flat out wrong. (Look ‘em up if you don’t know.) High art is one thing but getting high (or drunk) mindlessly at warp speed is another. Even if you're not into over-indulging, rock and roll is as much about fun and having a laugh as anything else. And it doesn’t get much funnier than middle-aged Melbourne punks Grindhouse.
Dunno ‘bout you but for me, cars are a way of getting from Point A to The Pub. Then you get an Uber (or find someone sober) to drive you home. Not for Grindhouse. Cars – specifically Holden Commodores – are a way of life. Alcohol, bad drugs and seminal Australian TV celebrity chef Peter Russell-Clarke (that’s him on the cover) also loom large in the Grindhouse pantheon. But we all need hobbies, right?
The car fixation is apparent in opening song “Peter Brock Built My Hotrod”. Musically speaking, it’s riding on relentless momentum and high-beam headlight lead guitar. Rhythm guitarist Mick Simpson’s whiney vocal and downstrokes rule. “V-6 can’t you tell?/V-8 going straight to hell.”
The spoken word order: “Righto, dickheads. Start your engines” kicks the title track into gear, and it’s more of the same energetic guitar scuzz. “Reservoir Meth and Western” takes a spin to Melbourne’s outer suburbs to score, while “Shit Cocaine” is as much about shit people as crappy powder.
“Willis Jackson” is presumably all about the diminutive “Diff’rent Strokes” star and not the jazz guy. Its insistence that he is, indeed, a “bad motherfucker” is a riot, set to twin stun guitar fall-out. “Eric Estrada” and Peter Russell-Clarke (“Where’s The Fucking Cheese?”) both get their two minutes in the sun. Grindhouse drop names like flatulent old pisshead men drop farts. Come to think of it, there might be a parallel…
A shout-out here to both Ricky “Pony Club” Audsley on lead guitar and producer Steve McDonald (The Melvins, Redd Kross & Off!), who is back for his second stint as producer. They’re integral to the Grindhouse sound and they both hit harder than a Tequila slammer hangover.
"Can I Drive Your Commodore?" is lyrically a scream but musically it rocks like the proverbial. Grindhouse plays for keeps and does so with stupendous energy. It gets better every play.
This is streets ahead of the Cosmic Psychos’ latest record (which frankly sounds like they’ve run out of ideas.) Its predecessor “Crazy Pussy” rocked regally, but “Can I Drive Your Commodore?” is world-class - even if most of the globe will be playing catch-up to understand the jokes. Just go get it.