Park Ape CD release of Urban Safari

The Saint

July 1, 2011

ASBURY PARK, NJ—There’s something about the rebellious outsider that always piques my curiosity when it comes to the original music scene. Asbury’s own Park Ape is a one of a handful of standout bands that opt for the dark, alpha road of artistic direction, and they do it quick and heavy all day long. Park Ape at first glance might seem to some to be some strange, six-headed monster gnashing its fangs at many different traditional targets, but once you listen to the new disc, Urban Safari, and see them live, the multiple influences of each member collide into a unified brand of cacophony that is all their own.

Park Ape was at The Saint to celebrate the release of their brand new disc and they did a good job at convincing me to spin it after watching their special brand of punk mayhem live. Singer Sal Vation seems to be the focal point of attitude live and on disc, with bandmates Michael Arnold aka Vino Jones, Slim Polski aka Slam, Larry Grey aka Blak Cherry, Colin Thompson aka Basshead tightened the backdrop like a stool pigeon’s head in a vise.

Kicking off with “Effing Sexy,” the band drilled the crowd with heavy, riff-oriented rock in the funky vein of Limp Bizkit’s “Nookie.” Heavy bass and drums set up killer guitarist Larry Grey, (this guy is the area’s underrated secret weapon) who hits it hard, head down and concentrated on his fretboard frenetics. Lyrical content is down and dirty, Sal’s specialty, and he doesn’t lowball topic on this song as he sings, “You’ve been a tease/So I do as I please.”

“Now” is the song that I’d pick as the band’s anthem. Bold, loud and filled with the snarl of Johnny Lydon, Sal Vation makes you a believer when he tells you “Someday, I’ll have all I ever wanted.” Grey and second guitarist Slim Polski grab this old school punk rocker by the neck as Mike Arnold and Colin Thompson hold it down for Sal to spew lyrical voodoo on. Compositional style is all guitars down around the knees as they shoot for the stars and hit the meteor-hot altitude of Black Oak Arkansas meets the Bad Brains.

“Touch It” comes out with all the fury and snarl that matches anything on Guns ‘N’ Roses’ Appetite For Destruction. Once again, lyrical tongue in cheek is all Sal Vation as guitars get up fast, buzzing like a horde of angry wasps. Mike Arnold and Colin Thompson are slamming and they push this dirty, filthy gem right into the oncoming lane of delightful perversity.

My second choice for top tune comes with “Subtle Prostitution,” a mid-tempo, grungy number in the vein of Rage Against The Machine and Body Count. The main chorus riff chases Sal’s vocal line like a dog at a moving tire, coming up and under before crashing into the Zeppelin-influenced verse as Sal machine gun raps his attitude-laden vocal down the center of the song.

Urban Safari is a pretty good cross-section of music from a band with a definitive musical plan. Live, they keep you wrapped up with great playing technique and banter, which also comes across on the recording. This is a band that’s worked hard to get their point across while maintaining some semblance of originality and dedication to traditional punk and funk rock sounds of the past. Check out Park Ape and Urban Safari over at


Take It Or Leave It: A Tribute To The Queens Of Noise

Main Man Records

The Main Man Records gang is back with their biggest project to date. Featuring the trademark double-disc set, Main Man covers all things Runaways this time out. With a whopping total of 36 songs, there’s definitely going to be something for every Runaways fan out there on this CD. There are so many historic bands on here that it’s almost ridiculous to pick top tunes, but I’ll give it a shot.

While the individual interpretations of each track explore the original contributions of Cherie, Joan, Lita, Sandy, Jackie and Vickie, Take It Or Leave It also includes performances from two original Runaways. Cherie Currie tears it up on “American Nights” and “Dirty Magazine,” the last recording made by the late, great Sandy West and her band Blue Fox.

Tracks include contributions from The Donnas with their leather-clad attitude on “Queens Of Noise.” I love those girls and they lay it down old school with an intro from Hollywood’s own Rodney Bingenheimer. Theres no tomfoolery here as the Donnas chug it out and bring back the true feel of the original track their way. Shonen Knife slash into “Black Leather” with the fuzz-layered attitude of a 10,000 lbs bee.

The Binges pull in a great version of “I Love Playin’ With Fire” that includes great, raw vocals from Dylan Squatcho and scorching guitar leads from Mayuko Okai that would have Lita Ford looking over her shoulder.

Bebe Buell and band step up to the plate on “Heartbeat” and put it right over the rock and roll wall. Funny, I recently read a review asking why Buell was on this disc. Take a listen to her recent stellar album, Sugar, ask any of the Cars (they were her band at one point), or go research the fact that The Ramones had her on many of their biggest dates and you’ll know that not only is she an underrated talent that has to work harder because of her fame, but she’s got style for miles. That’s the feeling that comes across on “Heartbeat” and that’s what I love about the band. Guitarist Jimmy Walls brings ‘70s focus and Les Paul grit to this track as well.

Local notables are Deena And The Laughing Boys with their raucous treatment on “Lovers,” and of course Frankenstein 3000 and their gritty version of “California Paradise.” Keith Roth has the rawest voice in rock and roll and it works great here. The Easy Outs kick on “Is It Day Or Night” with Gar Francis of the Doughboys, and wild man Ritchie Scarlett blazes on “Wild Thing.” Laura Warshauer guests on “Little Lost Girls,” Tara Elliott and The Red Velvets spread the icing on “You Drive Me Wild.” And of course Sandy West slams it home on the Blue Fox track “Dirty Magazines.”

Disc two has the Dandy Warhols doing my favorite tune, “Cherry Bomb,” and Richard Barone handles “Hollywood.” New York Dolls guru David Johansen hands in an impressive job on “Blackmail” and Kittie does a bang up version of “Fantasies.” There are many other great tracks and artists too numerous to mention. The best thing to do is get this CD and take a nice, long drive in the car.

I really have to give mention to Frankenstein 3000 drummer and mastering extraordinaire Clint Gascoyne. I don’t know how he does it, but this CD, like all the other projects that are filled with individually produced tunes, sounds uniform and full of life. It can’t be an easy job to get done.

Interspersed with interview clips from the original Runaways, mock radio ads by Rodney Bingenheimer, Carol Miller and candid moments with Johnny Ramone as well as recollections from Meg Griffin about The Runaways’ appearance at the legendary CBGB’s round out this interesting CD.

Fifty percent of the proceeds from Take It Or Leave It will be donated to the American Institute For Cancer Research. For more on this notable and star-studded release, head over to the Main Man headquarters,


2 Responses

  1. Spank

    Clint Gascoyne is truly a talented dude …. his mastering and art work rocks. A fine example of his all around talent can be found on Main Man’s Spinal Tap tribute …. the Spinal Tap poster is a fantastic piece of art. Excellent effort by all the fine folks at Main Man Records.

  2. john pfeiffer

    We wholeheartedly agree Spank. The Aquarian likes to spotlight everyone that contributes to our A-List music scene in the New Jersey area. Thanks for the awesome comment and keep reading!


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