Picks and Pans Review: New Hope for the Wretched
The album title could well refer to the punk band itself, but as the stand-up comics say, the joke grows on you. Transcending the normal bounds of wretchedness, the Plasmatics reach a new plateau of raging infantilism and epic depravity. In other words, they're so excessively bad they're sort of terrific. A self-proclaimed veteran of the Times Square live-sex circuit, lead singer Wendy Orlean Williams writhes, carves up guitars with a chain-saw and decimates TV sets with a sledgehammer during Plasmatics concerts. Her singing sounds like an echo of these activities. Then there's lead guitarist Richie Stotts, who, with his blue-dyed Mohican hedgerow and 6'5" frame, would be an imposing spectacle even if he didn't wear blue tights, a ballet dancer's tutu and red lipstick. Small wonder that their Yale alumnus manager, Rod Swenson, categorizes the act as "conceptual art." Is making an album irrelevant for a group that purposely crashed a speeding Cadillac into its stage equipment on a pier in New York last fall (Williams leaped out at the last second) and then blew up the whole mess with explosives? Not necessarily. Ids of this magnitude spill over onto vinyl with a redolence that will appeal to some. Modeled after the Ramones, the Plasmatics make music that is crude, loud, urgent and perversely danceable. They're the amphetamine hit the fading punk movement needs.