Music News

Kitty Litter

How do you classify the
music of New York rock
band Pussy Galore?
Punk? Post-punk?
Progressive? No,
nope, uh-uh, and
not even close.
The band's fans
and foes alike have
called it "loud,"
"obscene," and
"obnoxious," but
anyone who's ever
sat through any of
Pussy Galore's
first five releases
knows how
those words are.
The albums are
all full of
uninhibited guitar
butchering and
waves of
offensiveness that
may or may not be
what's commonly
known as "music."
While some listeners
have praised PG's
work as so damned
good because it's so
horribly bad, others have
accused the New Yorkers
of "noise terrorism."
So when it was announced a
while back that the title of the
band's new album would be Dial M

for Motherfucker, it seemed as if Pussy Galore was determined to delve even further into the realm of offensiveness. But shockingly enough, Caroline Records, PG's label, had the nerve to call Dial M "accessible" and "polished." The label dared to brag that one track, "Dick Johnson," "even features a hooky chorus!" Even more shocking, Caroline has turned out to be right on both counts--in a relative sense, that is.

If we consider some of PG's previous work, like Groovy Hate Fuck, Sugarshit Sharp, and its cassette remake of the entire Rolling Stones epic Exile on Main Street, maybe, just maybe, we can agree that Dial M is more polished than the others. After all, Groovy was an unrehearsed album dedicated to messy guitar torture. And the New Trouser Press Record Guide had this to say about the group's early work: "You're supposed to be repulsed by Pussy Galore, but that certainly doesn't make this pathetic effluvia worth hearing. Cheap thrills for vulgar sissies."

Even to say that the new PG album is accessible to those sitting at home out there in radioland is pushing the truth just a tad below this side of the fiery gates of eternal damnation.

Galore guitarist-singer-songwriter Jon Spencer begs to differ, however. He thinks the whole album is accessible. "We're not just a bunch of dumbfucks banging away," he says in a recent interview from New York. "It's very controlled."

Spencer allows that in the past, PG went out of its way to offend listeners, but he says his group is now trying to create listenable rock 'n' roll. "Things aren't as loose and sloppy. They're more refined."

There's probably nothing that would please Caroline Records more than a truly refined, safe and clean record by Pussy Galore, but that may never happen. When asked if Caroline has ever suggested that the band clean up its act, Spencer says, "It's been said, but I tend to turn a deaf ear towards it. The label didn't want us to put `motherfucker' on the album," he says. To that end, the band seems to have made a compromise with its label. The album cover spine identifies the title as Dial M. The rest of the name can be found only on the label inside.

Longtime fans will notice that the band seems to have made some musical compromises, too. For example, the group recently cut down its cadre of guitar players from four to three. (According to Caroline Records, the bass "is exchewed [sic] as a clumsy, unnecessary instrument.") Spencer says four guitars created unnecessary clutter. Three, apparently, is just the right amount of clutter. On Dial M, one guitarist covers bass licks while the other two trade rumbling rhythm and screeching leads. Meanwhile, ex-Sonic Youther Bob Bert bangs away at a kit that includes both traditional skins and a gas tank, auto spring and snare drum with metal heads.

This instrumentation may sound a bit unorthodox, but no more so than PG's patently obscene lyrics. Somehow, though, it all comes out in the wash--even with a drummer playing what sounds like a collection of junk, Spencer says. "He just pounds away like a drill press or something," the Galore guy says. "It all sits together real nice."