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Review: spielgusher, spielgusher

[ClenchedWrench/Org Music (2012)]

Spielgusher started twenty-odd years ago as a project between the Minutemen, a California punk band, and R. Meltzer, rock critic and sometime lyricist for Blue Öyster Cult. The death of the Minutmen’s D. Boon ended it then; now Meltzer and the band’s bassist, Mike Watt, finally collaborate. Think Lenny Bruce, Hunter Thompson, or Charles Bukowski—neo-beatnik social commentary—63 short recitations backed by jazzy punkish music.

Some of Meltzer’s “spiels” are tossed-off nonsense that just sounds interesting, some are trenchant social observations, and some are just smutty, tough-guy sex talk (somehow still mandatory with this literary territory). There’s more here that is funny or insightful than downright offensive or just glib. Throughout, Watt’s music, with assists from members of the Japanese band Cornelius, shimmers and coruscates behind Meltzer’s musings, reinforcing the mood psychedelically, but never subliminally.

Both Watt and Meltzer are uncompromising and stalwart in their art, even when it offends, but somehow, Spielgusher doesn’t coalesce. Meltzer’s word snippets are too short, sounding like undeveloped ideas for something else, to be effective. As a great fan of both Watt and Meltzer, I was really rooting for this project, but it’s just too scattered, too fragmented, and sometimes too crude to work.

—Jeffery R. Lindholm (Montpelier, VT)

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