Nearing the end of their time together as a real band, Royal Trux dropped Pound for Pound in 2000. And, as has been the case for a few years now, Drag City has re-issued the album in all its glory.
More a Neil Hagerty record than a Jennifer Herrema one, Pound for Pound runs with that Rolling Stones thing and Neil indulges his full-on Sticky Fingers obsession to fantastic effect. A more expansive version of the same template that Primal Scream toyed with in the mid-1990s, the tracks on this Royal Trux record are simultaneously derivative but also wildly unique.
Opener "Call Out The Lions" is ominous but melodic, all boiling tension. That tension spills over and erupts in the catchy "Fire Hill" which is quite possibly one of the finest bits of rock this band ever produced.
If it seems like Hagerty is calling the shots on this album, that's not to slight Herrema's contributions. One listen to the interplay on "Accelerator (The Original)" convinces a listener that this is just as much her jam as it is Hagerty's.
The delightfully named "Sunshine and Grease" provides a near-skanking rhythm underneath the vocal bits from both Hagerty and Herrema. It's a snarling, nasty bit of business but it's also oddly tender and touching. The love song a Keith Richards groupie would have written in 1969.
The groove continues throughout Pound for Pound, from the wah-wah guitar of "Small Thief" to the hard-edged hooks of "Teenage Murder Mystery" and its insistent riffage.
All in all, Pound for Pound may just be the perfect Royal Trux record. Clean production and nasty guitar work combine and the result is a mess of a record. It's a fantastic and supremely tuneful mess. Think classic Stones only dirtier and being played by guys who've listened to a lot of Nick Cave records too.
Pound for Pound is being re-issued by Drag City on Tuesday.