Das Damen – Triskaidekaphobe – Compact Disc
Although it wasn’t the only label they would call home, Das Damen was, in many ways, the quintessential SST band. Triskaidekaphobe (fear of the number 13), their third recording for the label, is all about the guitar, and the guitar playing throughout is quite good (Wayne Kramer from MC5 assists with what the credits describe as “riff rock”). Unlike Dinosaur Jr. or Sonic Youth, however, Das Damen never quite ventured into the realm of pure noise. Their approach was more like that of the Screaming Trees or even the Meat Puppets (i.e., neo-psychedelic guitar rock with a garage chaser). But the New York-based quartet lacked the very ingredient that would help the Trees go on to even greater success in the ’90s: a vocalist with the range and presence of a Mark Lanegan. Urgent but undistinguished vocals prevent Triskaidekaphobe from having the impact that it should (arguably, Dinosaur Jr.’s love of excessive volume helped to disguise a similar shortcoming during their SST years). The Marshmellow Conspiracy EP, released the same year, included album tracks “Bug” (possibly as much a tribute to Mascis and company as “fIREJOKE” was to fIREHOSE) and an alternate version of “555,” along with non-LP tracks “Sky Yen” and “Song for Michael Jackson to $ell” (i.e., “Magical Mystery Tour” in disguise). When representatives for Jackson, owner of the Beatles’ catalog, found out about the deception, SST was forced to withdraw the EP. It was later reissued as a three-track recording.
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