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[Off The Record]
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The Racketeers
MAD FOR THE RACKET
(MUSCLETONE)

Hereís a great booming slab of old- and older-school punk rock delivered with tag-team energy by the Damnedís Brian James and former MC 5 founder Wayne Kramer (these Racketeers bear no relation to the Boston rockabilly band of the same name). The music is raw and smart, and both guitarists play with a brawny Marshall-style crunch thatís tempered by their ability to coil together slippery leads that respect both melodies and atonal snarls. Thereís poetry in their lyrics, too, from the literate verses of the noirish "Trouble Bones" to "Czar of Poisonville," their most ambitious collaboration, a spoken-word piece with one foot on the path of the beat poets and at least two feet off the ground. Although Kramer and James are just serviceable vocalists, they make the most of their singing by keeping the melodies whole in punk-pop numbers like "I Want It" and "All Fired Up" and even weaving together the occasional harmony. And if the writing and fine-chiseled guitar tones arenít enough, add in a muscular rhythm section staffed by Guns Ní Roses bassist Duff McKagan and, by turns, drummers Stewart Copeland (the Police), Clem Burke (Blondie), and ex-Bostonian-turned-LA-hotshot Brock Avery. Itís easy to be mad for this kind of racket.

BY TED DROZDOWSKI

Issue Date: November 22 - 29, 2001

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