Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mos Generator - Deluxe 10th Anniversary S/T Reissue

It was a dark and stormy night.  Inside an ominous castle situated atop the highest suitable perch in the Black Mountains of California a mad scientist was hard at work.  Frantic hammering along with high speed saws could be plainly heard above the angry growls of thunder.  Occasionally blinding light would burst forth from every window of the castle.  A careful observer would have been able to listen in to snippets of the scientist’s crazy ramblings.

“…take away my diplomas and honors, eh?  I’ll show them!”
“…call me crazy.  Me!?!?  After all that I’ve done…”
“…finish building this, my masterwork.  They’ll all have to believe…”
“…going to revolutionize everyone’s thoughts on the subject…”
“Mwahaha!”

Fast forward three months.  Fall was in full effect.  The 2011 California World Fair was scheduled to begin that very night with an elaborate ceremony that would be televised all over the world.  What no one knew was that the mad scientist Penfold planned to hijack the proceedings with the help of a select few hired hands.  After the sun had gone down and a capacity crowd had gathered in the Fair’s primary outdoor plaza the plan was set in motion.  When the Governor of California paused to take a breath following the first sentence of his welcoming speech, pyrotechnics exploded and the enormous black curtain concealing a large stage at the end of the plaza fell to the ground.  Standing in the center of said stage was a man wearing a startlingly white lab coat.  He raised both his arms, his palms pointed skyward, and began speaking into the microphone in front of him.

“Ladies and gentlemen!  Boys and girls!  Thank you for coming to my grand unveiling!  My name is Penfold.  I apologize if I startled any of you with those loud blasts.  I’m a showman at heart I’m afraid.”

“Now wait just a minute,” screamed the Governor from across the plaza.  “I don’t know who you are or what you think you’re doing here, but you have no idea what kind of trouble you’re…”  The Governor’s voice abruptly ceased after Penfold made a quick ‘cut his mike’ gesture to one of his team members.

“Thank you Governor, but your teleprompter reading services are no longer necessary.  Folks, I don’t wish to waste your time so allow me to cut to the chase.   I’m here today to show you my latest invention.”  He held up a small black box and proceeded to press the circular white button in its middle, raising a small podium beside him on stage to the level of his waist.  On top of the podium was an object covered by an opaque sheet.  “People, I ask you.  What is the number one concern of humanity going forward?  I’ll tell you.  It’s energy!  Clean, sustainable energy!  No one has been able to solve this perplexing riddle…until now.  With my new invention, I can harness the power of rock and roll to generate immense amounts of electricity.   Citizens of California, and everyone watching this around the world, I give you…the Mos Generator!”

Penfold quickly withdrew the sheet covering the object on the podium unveiling what appeared to be an old Victor Victrola machine.  The only noticeable difference was a thick cord running out of its back that disappeared through the floor of the stage.

“Judging by the amused looks on some of your faces, I can see that a demonstration is in order.  I completely concur.”  He reached inside of his lab coat and brought out a vinyl record.  “This is the debut album of the band whose name I borrowed for my invention.”  Penfold pulled the record from the sleeve, placed it on the turntable, and lowered the needle.  The music started.  Moments later countless machines whirred to life behind the stage and a wonderland of lights nearly succeeded in turning the night sky into day.  The crowd collectively gasped and gawked.  The mad scientist smiled so widely it nearly tore his face in half.

“Hahaha!  I guess none of you knew that there was a fully functional amusement park behind this stage.  Take a good look folks.  Everything you see is made possible by my Mos Generator.  I invite you to enjoy yourselves with the amusements on offer.  I assure you, I’ll be available to anyone who has a question for me, scientific or otherwise.”

And with that, Penfold walked confidently off the stage.

Waveriders please excuse me for a moment, because I’m going to break one of my cardinal rules.  If you have read any of my previous reviews you might have noticed that when it comes to language I like to keep my writing G rated.  Well…I’m afraid that I can’t contain myself this time.  Holy ****!  The debut album by Mos Generator is so ******* awesome I can hardly ******* stand it!  This thing is so ******* fantastic, it makes every other hard rock album I’m listening to (and I assure you that includes some very good albums right now) it’s *****!  ***** *****!  ******* ****, why did I not know about this album ten years ago when it first came out?  Palm meet forehead repeatedly.

Right, now that I've purged myself of the need to use coarse language let’s get down to business.  Mos Generator is a power trio out of Port Orchard, Washington.  The three titans of rock who make up the band are Tony Reed on guitar/vocals/keyboards, Shawn Johnson on drums, and Scooter Haslip on bass.  Yes that’s right, I said titans of rock and I meant it.  Mos Generator play rock and roll music.  They play hard rock music, the kind of hard rock that is clearly rooted in the 1970s.  That means their songs are built around tremor inducing guitar riffs coupled with a lock step rhythm section that is both backbone and harmonious support structure.  Yes the obvious go-to reference point is Black Sabbath.  That’s unavoidable but honestly, being a huge Sabbath fan myself, I never find myself listening to Mos Generator thinking boy, that sure sounds like that (fill in the blank) Sabbath song.  On reflection, that is one of the biggest compliments I can give this band.  Despite wearing their influences on their collective sleeve they are clearly their own band sonically.

My first actual exposure to Mos Generator came through a Facebook post made by one of my two bosses, Pope JTE, which allowed me to listen to one song from the debut album.  Waveriders, I played that song at moderate volume and I had to question whether or not I had just lived through an earthquake.  Shortly thereafter I heard the song “Sleeping Your Way To The Middle” and I knew I couldn’t live without a copy of this album any longer.  While I realize that all three band members had been making music with other acts before forming Mos Generator the quality level of this, their first album, is stunning!  Top to bottom it is smack you in the face, forehand and backhand good!  The original album is made up of seven songs that clock in at just over thirty minutes.  I know that may not seem like a lot of time but trust me, you won’t be left wanting.  This album is the very definition of ‘all killer, no filler’.  I guarantee that you’ll be hitting the play button again and again in record time.  Oh, and I suppose I should mention the bonus materials.  Yeah, that’s probably a good idea.

With this deluxe reissue not only do you get the bulletproof original album, you also get about two hours of extra music including unreleased studio demos, a half hour rehearsal jam, and all kinds of live tracks.  And waveriders let me tell you something.  Those live tracks, including one full show that saw limited release under the name Live At The Manette, are awe inspiring.  Yes there is plenty of energy in the studio recorded songs, but live Mos Generator sounds like a runaway train that’s about to derail itself!  I can’t imagine anyone attending one of their shows and remaining seated.  Well…unless they lack a pulse or they happen to be deaf.  Truly, when the band gets going it feels like they are performing a high wire routine with no safety net underneath, and it is intoxicating.  I would happily pay for these ‘bonus tracks’ separately no questions asked.  The amount of musical goodness contained within this reissue is positively absurd!

Let’s put a bow on this shall we?  You may have never heard of Mos Generator, or you may be a fan wanting to complete his or her collection.  The bottom line here is this waveriders.  If you are looking for an ultra-high quality 1970s inspired, ridiculously talented, musically inventive band your search has ended.  You know what, scratch that.  If you call yourself a hard rock fan you absolutely must own this album!  Believe it!

--Penfold





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