Couch Flambeau Curiosity Rocks [tape] (no label) 1982 Mammal Insect Marriage (Ludwig Van Ear) 1983 The Day the Music Died (It's Only a Record) 1985 Rock with Your Sock On [tape] (It's Only a Record) 1987 Ghostride (It's Only a Record) 1989 Education is a dangerous thing, and these Wisconsin smartboys have been in school far too long for public safety. Armed with Jay Tiller's rapier wit, dadaist visions, squawky voice and ear-busting guitar work, the group's records are hysterically funny exercises in eminently enjoyable noise-to-go. The lyrics of Mammal Insect Marriage's opening track, 'ADM 12,' immediately make it clear you've checked into a real hellhouse of collegiate weasel weirdness: 'I saw a car accident near the zoo. There were mangled bodies all over. I felt sick, but I found a finger. I still have it in my freezer.' Recorded in seven fun-filled hours, Mammal Insect Marriage has thirteen additional warped and funny B-movie haikus. Brilliant and extraordinary. The tape-only Rock with Your Sock On combines the entire contents of Curiosity Rocks (recorded and mixed in a single eight-hour session just months after the band's formation) and Mammal Insect Marriage. The former contains sketchy versions of 'ADM 12' and 'I Don't Want to Be an Eddie,' as well as 'Mobile Home,' 'Satan's School for Girls' and 'Curtains for You,' all of which resurfaced on Couch's third album. The Day the Music Died gets off to a slow start with the instrumental title track, but revs into high gear with 'We'll Go Through the Windshield Together,' a romantic tale of vehicular homicide (complete with sound effects) told from the victim's perspective. Other highlights include the pessimistic 'Life's Rough,' a feedback-filled mantra that recasts an old 7-Up slogan ('You Hate It, It Hates You') and bassist Neil Socol's 'Curtains for You,' in which the protagonist makes a major educational discovery: 'I hate Shakespeare/He's too hard to read/I wish he were dead/Oh, he is?' Beneath the unpredictable lyrics and Tiller's brain-spasm vocals, Ghostride - a full sixteen-song dose - cranks up equally unpredictable (although tight and well-played) rock noise that flirts with metal. In Couch's world, nothing is ever perfect: 'We're Not So Smart' describes the joy and heartbreak of being an underground rock group (the related 'Scene Report' dismembers punk-rock poseurs), while 'Think Twice' is equally realistic about the hazards of dating and 'Summer Vacation' is, predictably, a complete disaster. Great! [Ira Robbins]
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