“'73 was such a bleak fucking period in New York when they started—just desperately poor and dark and dirty. That bleak frustration and hatred really comes out in the music. But yet it's cloaked in this catchy garage facade. It occupies its own genre, for sure.” That’s none other than brutarian queen, iconoclastic No Wave leader and Teenage Jesus and the Jerks provocateur Lydia Lunch waxing poetic on the brutally dank monstrosity that was early 1970’s-era New York City and how proto-punk sleazoids Jack Ruby embodied that devastation.
Let's step back for a second, though. Who is Jack Ruby?
Formed in 1973, this cast of forward-thinking fuck ups—Iggy-idolizing singer Robbie Hall, guitarist Chris Gray (deceased, 2014), Serge synthesizer skronker (and future David Letterman writer and New York Times Ethicist columnist) Randy Cohen, eventual Contortions bassist George Scott (deceased, 1980), violist Boris Policeband (deceased, 2001) and anonymous drummer "Nick”—offered up a career arc encompassing barely a handful of live gigs and a demo before becoming stuff of legend—influencing Lunch and art-punks like Sonic Youth before ultimately fading into obscurity.
That changed in 2011 when Lunch’s Retrovirus guitarist-in-crime and No Wave authority Weasel Walter was handed over a then-discovered tape of Jack Ruby’s VU/Stooges-damaged genius. Walter expertly spruced it up and released its crud-dripping, proto-everything anthemry—punk, no wave, and noise—via his now-defunct ugEXPLODE label.
Now, the Jack Ruby mother lode is about to be unleashed. On April 29th, the London/Berlin label Cecilia Knows will release a sick two-CD retrospective sprawl that culls together Jack Ruby’s entire recorded output. Remastered from recently-unearthed master tapes, the set not only collects the ear-bleeders found on Walter’s long out-of-print gem but a cassette of a band rehearsal from 19-fucking-77 and a 2013 remix by legendary Velvet Monkeys/Gumball and Sonic Youth/Dinosaur Jr super-producer, Don Fleming. And that’s just the first disc. The accompanying disc—recorded between ’72 and 74—compiles nine Serge synth-piloted pieces dripping with feedback-drenched shriek ‘n’ grind and weirdo speak-sing. That grating avant-gardist noise undoubtedly inspired ex-Sonic Youther Thurston Moore, who contributed testimonials to the Jack Ruby legend, as did famed Brit scribe, Jon Savage, for the package’s liner notes. To satisfy vinyl enthusiasts, the intrepid Mass.-based Feeding Tube label will be issuing the first disc of the 2CD set on record.
To tide you over until next week when the epic raunch, nasty hooks and noise-mongering of Hit and Run is released, we have the Fleming-remixed, not-made-for-the-dental-chair, clattering, cum-smeared and groovy bloodbath of “Bad Teeth.” So “drill it, fill it, spit” and don’t forget to floss.