Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Singles 45's and Under: Shellac - The Rude Gesture

It starts off like a dirge.

Hang on. I forgot to switch the speed to 45.”

It starts off like some early history math rock gem, which is funny because Steve Albini looks like an analytical guy.

I’m speaking to Shellac’s Rude Gesture e.p., a three-song single that I’d count more as a single than an e.p. But why cause trouble?

I gotta believe that-from a singles perspective-“Billiard Song” counts as the “hit” side, or at least the emphasis track. I mean, you’d think the “emphasis” track would be “side A,” of which I’m guessing as The Rude Gesture leaves a lot to be desired in terms of information.

What it does have, and I specifically remember this when I did a mail order purchase-remember those?-with Touch & Go records back in the day. I used to think Touch & Go was the shit back when you actually could think of record labels as “the shit.”

“And company? You can’t buy company!” goes Albini on that track. It’s a stallion of dry-sounding guitar work with a bit of tempo change shenanigans after bits of ratta-tat-tat staccato jabs. It’s a bit long-winded, with bits of big chord statements about…a dude that “cursed like a billiard player.”

Now that I look at the liner notes, it tells me that “The Billiard Player” was the last song on this e.p. Side B.

“Rambler Song” is more of my style, engaging and snotty.

It’s the package itself that’s the draw, though I hardly see why. My limited edition screenprint, reportedly made from root beer concentrate, has faded into a yellowy hue from its original color of brown.

Actually, that is kind of cool.

And rare too. I noticed like copies with asking prices as high as $75.

The songs may not be worth that much-and they’re not, if purchased digitally-but the memories sure might be, with this post-punk blast from an era when you could still buy things on faith from both the bands and the label they were signed to.

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