When you listen to music currently offered today, emulation is fairly common. Whether it’s because we’ve come full circle as far as the basic language of music or it’s because there just isn’t much positive subject matter in the world gone mad. But whatever the reason, it doesn’t stop anyone from creating a story that they strive to take to the next level and make their own.
Frankenstein 3000 is a band who fights the good fight when it comes to giving music lovers hope that the end is far from here. Born on the gritty, smoke-filled stages of iconic Big Apple rooms, the band has a magical power when it comes to communicating rebellion, lust, humor, and angst.
Their current release is an 11-song platter called Save The Planet. Offered on Main Man Records, FS3K might very well be doing just that. The disc is produced by Keith Roth and engineered by Roth and Monster Magnet skin basher Bob Pantella. Pantella is the wildcard here, helping out with additional guitars (I didn’t even know he played) and diverse percussion on the album. I had spoken with Roth recently, and he had conveyed to me that out of all of their records created over the last decade and a half, this is “The One.”
So kick back and harken to the days of New York Dolls, KISS, The Damned and Sweet and I’ll take you through a CD that pushes the rare and true, believable language of modern music.
Title track “Save The Planet” grinds out of the player and is governed by the heavy bass pedal meter of Clint Gascoyne. Guitars scuffle and ring under Roth’s raucous, raw vocals. “Save The Planet” moves like an early Bon Scott composition and is filled with just as much power chord thunder and lead guitar blitzkrieg (courtesy of Roth and Tommy Tafaro) as those original kings. Unlike those Scottish bombardiers, FS3K take on a disgusted and growing American note that deals with our current social and world issues. Tired of all the fighting, sick of the strife and grief, there’s just “too much talk to Save The Planet.”
Frankenstein 3000 brings tears of laughter to my eyes on “Hope And Dreams.” Taking a straight-up dig at the quickly deteriorating world of “everything hip and just so ironic,” the song reminds me of my favorite cracked.com saying: “Hipsters couldn’t incite more blind hatred if they were all ginger-haired Al-Qaeda members.” Roth steps up to the mic and tells it like it truly is: “Here comes Cletus with his Nash Vegas tan, last seen in Brooklyn with the name of Stan. Sold his soul to follow the pack, tie the motherfucker to the railroad tracks.” Bridges pump and surge with snarls and snarls of barbed wire-fused punk chords, bass, and drums. When hipsters hear this song, the first thing they’ll think is, “I’m so much better than you.” But by the time Tommy Tafaro’s middle-eight lead work explodes in Earl Slick Technicolor style, it leaves no one uncertain when it comes to deciding who is truly cool on this catchy, chorus-rich tune.
“Shake It Mama” is like a boisterous, joyful combination of early Ace Frehley, Nazareth, and Freda Payne (“Band Of Gold”). Choruses are animalistic and blue collar basic as they get the listener deep into their groove. Gascoyne’s monstrous downbeats, Eric Hoagland’s rumbling bass, and Roth’s raspy-as-hell vocals make you want to pound beers doing 100 miles per hour down the Turnpike. Please don’t attempt to do this, hipster. (Donny, you’re out of your element.) The middle-eight rolls back into AC/DC territory as the band sets up the building stone by stone. By the time Tafaro rips his Les Paul/wah work into the piece, they’re out of their heads and the moment they’re caught in is addictive times 10. As if it couldn’t get any better, the fadeout is pure 1970s badass.
“Quit It” is a riff-driven stomper that bounces down the lane of Black Oak Arkansas. Big, brash, and filled with an imagery of that sweaty Bleeker downtown jungle, “Quit it” rolls on as girls, subways, sirens and more race from Roth’s vivid memory and into the bridge-forged lead work of Tafaro’s Steve Stevens and Roth’s Mick Ronson jags.
“No War, Know Peace” tackles the monkey on all of our backs. “I can’t quit it though I never thought to try, what’s the issue when you ain’t too high to die.” The band chugs along with that Bachman, Turner, Overdrive growl done so well on BTO’s 1974 release, Not Fragile. FS3K utilizes hooky puzzle pieces to drive their chorus, and this is one that I’ve been singing all week. Once again, this is a band that has managed to take killer glory days and fold it into a unique and contemporary delivery system.
One of the more subtle pieces on the disc is “Roam.” Think of The Rolling Stones during their Out Of Our Heads time frame and you would understand where this band might be coming from. Drums and bass intertwine, driving and twirling down stepping-stoned groove directives as guitars shimmer in reverb washes. Roth’s vocals are hypnotic and psychedelic, filling the dynamic space with Strawberry Alarm Clock vibrations as needed. This is a very interesting departure from the band and breaks up the record without losing continuity.
The cover of Alex Chilton and Chris Bell’s “When My Baby’s Beside Me” proves that FS3K are no one-trick monster when it comes to influential shopping. Roth leads an all-star cast in the choruses as Tafaro joins him in the two-guitar attack. Chilton and Bell knew their skills and this rendition sounded like something that KISS wished they could have written when it mattered. Think Starz, Mott The Hoople and Twisted Sister and mix vigorously.
Every band says that their next CD is the best one. Save The Planet combines passionate, influential salute with miles of memorable imagery and it lines up quite well. The record is packed and stacked with great songwriting journeys and lyrical sizzle. The combined work of the band is almost second nature now, and they’ve created a great pocket-tight package of rip-snarling tunes that leave a decade-plus trail. But is it their best? How could I ever answer that? I never know what’s next for these fans of old-school cool. It’s safe to say that this record is cutting edge, but then it only seems to get better with each foray into their ongoing rockology.
But hey, find out for yourself, check out Save The Planet and answer that very question as only each of us can.
For more information on Frankenstein 3000 and their new record, Save The Planet, head over to mainmanrecords.com.