It was only a few days ago that I was reviewing a new album from The Long Ryders and here I am now reviewing one from The Flesh Eaters. The Eighties-era super-group is back, with a fine new one, I Used To Be Pretty, out now on Yep Roc. And, I'm happy to report, the release is a largely scorching record from a band who always took a scorched earth-approach to their brand of shockabilly.
The Flesh Eaters -- Chris D., Dave Alvin and Bill Batemen of The Blasters on guitar and drums, respectively, John Doe and D.J. Bonebrake of X on bass and percussion, respectively, and Steve Berlin of Los Lobos and other bands on sax -- crank through this material with an admirable sense of conviction. Covers of "She's Like Heroin To Me" by The Gun Club and "The Green Manalishi" by Fleetwood Mac (and Judas Priest) are the highlights here on I Used To Be Pretty with these cats sounding nearly like they did some three decades ago. Elsewhere, "Miss Muerte" suggests an evil Los Lobos, while the lengthy "Ghost Cave Lament" nods in the same dark direction that early Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds records did. While The Flesh Eaters imbue a lot of this with real bad intent, it's worth noting that the faster songs work better than the slow ones, at least in this reviewer's opinion. While "Black Temptation" roars, a real voice-from-the-grave-kinda thing, "My Life To Live" is more straightforward. It's a bracing bit of alt-rock, and the closest this record comes to the mainstream.
It's downright remarkable that this band can still summon up decidedly un-right sounds like this. There's a truck-load of bad vibes here, and thankfully for listeners, I Used To Be Pretty is a fairly worthy successor to earlier Flesh Eaters recordings.
I Used To Be Pretty is out now via Yep Roc.
[Photo: Frank Lee Drennen]