24 February 2010

I bought this on Amazon for less than a pack of cigarettes

Royal Trux: Royal Trux (Royal Records 1988, Drag City 1993)
When conducting research on this record, two phrases immediately grabbed my attention. "virtually unlistenable" and "heroin usage". As a devotee of Lou Reed's music and as someone who believes nothing is unlistenable, I quickly realized that this was my kind of record. My interest was further piqued when I read that Neil Hagerty used to be in a band with Jon Spencer called Pussy Galore, and when he was in the group he convinced them to cover and then record a rendition of the Stones' Exile on Main St., and if the internet is to be trusted then the story goes a step further with Hagerty viewing Pussy Galore as some sort of job, and seeing Royal Trux as his real artistic outlet.
Royal Trux was comprised of Hagerty on guitar and vocals and his then-but-not-now partner Jennifer Herrema on lead vocals. They released this record in 1988, and as a band hung around through the nineties into 2000. In '91 when Nirvana were blowing record exec's minds, Virgin signed Royal Trux to a three-year deal in at attempt to stay relevant at the time. Listening to this album at the moment, this seems to be a curious decision and can only really be explained after accepting the fact that record executives in the early nineties saw all alternative bands to be the same thing, and then treated them as such, which is the exact same thing that is happening now to alternative acts. They're not all the same thing. They really aren't.
Anyway, according to the internet this is the band's 'difficult' album. The second record was experimental, and the third was more lo-fi and recorded on an 8-track. Then it was a fourth album, and a deal with Matador that never happened. Then they signed with Virgin, and kicked the horse. They released one album, and then made another that the label reportedly hated. Then it was back to Drag City for a few more before they broke up. By my count, that is more than twelve records but less than fourteen in about as many years.
What is really supposed to be said about this album is anybody's guess. The story is worth reading, and while the sounds are all over the place in a disjointed jangle it never gets to too weird. If I were a painter, I would listen to this record while I worked.
Royal Trux were the first band to ever release something for Drag City. It happened sometime in 1989, and it basically cemented the label as one of the good ones. On June 1, 1990, they released an EP entitled Demolition Plot J-7. This band had self-issued some cuts, but this was their first release. The band was Pavement.

1 comment:

  1. no gift for the gab became number one on my bookmarks blog... WhOOPEE! This record review was sweet. Need to hear the record. Strangely no mention that Malkmus is into this band...