Borne Back Ceaselessly Into The Past: A Psychological Review Of Gentlemans Pistols “At Her Majesty’s Pleasure”

I wish I could go back to 1972, listen to Gentlemans Pistols new record “At Her Majesties Pleasure” in the era it was meant to be recorded and stab Richard Nixon’s Chief of Staff H.R. “Bob” Haldeman in the skull with an ice pick.  Okay, maybe not the last part.  Haldeman wasn’t such a bad guy.  He rocked that weird flat top hairdo that became the style in mid-90s rap music and became the best chemist Lompoc Federal Prison ever saw.  He would have dug the new Gentlemans Pistols record for it’s pure grit and bile-ridden effluence.  He was as malevolent a man as ever walked the earth. Supposedly, he tried to have Jim Nabors killed because he wouldn’t play Julie Nixon’s wedding.  I heard that once from a guy in a sauna in Davenport, Iowa.

Gentlemans Pistols is a collection of outstanding British musicians including Mr. William Steer, who gave my life meaning by writing riffs for Carcass that would have made Ed Gein recite Walt Whitman poems to a crowd of smiling 3rd graders.  Steer hasn’t lost a step.  The riffs that he and James Atkinson put on this album are pure roll around-in-the-gutter filth.   They buckle your knees like a 3-2 curveball and do not ask for your permission to continue.

Backwards in time to another place.  Transported to all that was seedy and repugnantly gorgeous about 70’s bar room rock’n’roll.  You are in a pool hall swilling cheap, half-flat beer being stared down by two menacing looking Hell’s Angels.  Not the modern Sons of Anarchy watching yuppies who go cycling between trading soybean futures, but the old school Sonny Barger led head-mangling, spleen eater types.  “Midnight Crawler” bellows in the background and you are completely there.  Everything is in its place.

At some point the whole retrofitted 1970s rock thing is going to get old.  The formula is, in fact, criminally simple.  However, put in the hands of poets like these a 3-minute-song can feel like a shimmering vacation into the dark heart of all that is ugly and cruel.  Something in their tone screams for your undying allegiance.  You would crawl through glass just to hear “Into The Haze” once more.  They are on the mainline, hooked into the Universal Generator and driving ceaselessly into the storm.   This is the purpose for which rock’n’roll was intended.  Not to be background music in the local Target or to be recited soullessly by an army of never-ending American Idol contestants, but to remind us of what visceral chaos lives just below the surface of our pristine, orderly world.

Bob Haldeman Would Have Understood

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  1. #1 by John Erickson on June 20, 2011 - 6:31 PM

    So… still struggling with that whole “self-expression”, I see. 😉
    Is the band lineup the same as back in the 70s? That is cool! I hate when single band members refloat a band name with new “talent” that usually isn’t (talented, that is). Not to mention the album cover is …. interesting. That’s the biggest loss going to CDs – no more of that over-the-top cover art. You had to love Journey, if not for their music, then for their Picasso-on-acid graphics.
    So, having established myself as square to the Nth decimal place, can I seal the deal and ask your opinion of the Brit group Uriah Heep? 😀
    Hope you had a good Fathers’ Day!

  2. #2 by Keith Spillett on June 20, 2011 - 6:43 PM

    I love Uriah Heep! I would have saw them last week if I was in Atlanta. They are still playing around believe it or not. “Rainbow Demon” is my song!

    Those Journey covers were FANTASTIC.

    Had a wonderful Father’s Day. Thanks!

    • #3 by John Erickson on June 20, 2011 - 7:08 PM

      I can’t believe it. You picked my favourite song on my favourite Uriah Heep album! Though “Easy Living” is pretty good too. I absolutely KNEW we were kindred spirits! 😉
      Now I just need to get you hooked on Barry Manilow and the Village People!
      (Waits for screaming to subside.)
      Dare I take a LONG stride out on a limb, and query your thoughts on Dire Straits, and Mark Knopfler in particular?
      O, I finally got me and Blackjack as a Gravatar! Now if I could just make it bigger. Far safer than getting closer to that crazy goat. I nearly lost a hand getting that photo!

  3. #4 by Keith Spillett on June 21, 2011 - 4:41 AM

    Can’t believe that is your favorite UH song! Awesome!

    Blackjack looks terrified! Losing a hand to a goat is a quite noble way to go.

    I want to not like Dire Straits, but I cannot help myself but really love them. Knopfler needs to lose the headband! Down To The Waterline is my favorite by them.

    Here’s a link to a band called Vintersorg. They do a PERFECT Uriah Heep cover (first link) and another song you may really like. Major UH influence along with Yes. Let me know what you think….


  4. #5 by John Erickson on June 21, 2011 - 9:53 AM

    Just wanted to drop a quick note – I’ll listen to the two cuts in a few hours, after I clean out my overflowing inbox.
    Knopfler is a killer guitarist. If you’ve ever seen the movies “The Princess Bride” or “Local Hero” (a great, bizarre-humour-laden little movie), he did the soundtracks including writing most of the music. To me, at least, he rates up with the best.
    Actually, Blackjack’s pretty cool. He has unusually dark eyes for a goat (jeez, did THAT just sound creepy!), so he looks panicked most of the time, even though he goes where and when he pleases – to the point that his tie-down, on the end of his 1/4″ thick chain, is a half-shaft off the end of a car’s differential! I was VERY careful in first getting to know him, considering a sheep only slightly smaller than him, managed to butt his 300+-pound owner, one of our friends down here, into the air, over a 5′ fence, and cracked 3 ribs! Blackjack could do FAR worse without working up a sweat – but he’s a cool, friendly guy once you introduce yourself.
    I’ll write more later. Until then, TTFN!

    • #6 by John Erickson on June 21, 2011 - 1:40 PM

      Wow! Great stuff! I thinks me needs do some shopping in the VERY near future. I like their twist on “Rainbow Demon”, with the stronger bass/percussion. The other song was reminiscent of “Easy Livin'”, also from “Demons and Wizards” and a cool song in and of itself.
      By the by, don’t know why this popped into my head, but if you “get into Christmas” and want to put a special spin on it, get Twisted Sister’s “A Twisted Christmas”. And just FREAK when you hear how “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful” sync perfectly! If I can remember, I’ll keep an eye on VH1, see if the rerun the interview with Dee Snider about the album. It’s hilarious! (Think about those songs – now you won’t be able to get them out of your head for at least a day. Yeah, I’m a really evil so-and-so! ;).

      • #7 by Keith Spillett on June 22, 2011 - 9:11 AM

        I gotta check that out. I always dug Twisted Sister. Every once in a while I have to hear that song The Price. I like that Dee (a fellow Jewish dude) has a Christmas album out!

  5. #8 by matthewashton on June 21, 2011 - 12:21 PM

    I love that photo and caption of Bob Haldeman. He really did have the world’s most amazing crewcut.

    • #9 by Keith Spillett on June 22, 2011 - 9:12 AM

      Yeah! James Woods was the perfect guy to play him too. He got all his creepy mannerisms down pat.

  6. #10 by afrankangle on June 22, 2011 - 8:24 AM

    Perhaps the only paragraph ever in existence to weve together Haldeman, Jim Nabors, rap music, and ice picks without mentioning Etlichman. Simply brilliant.

    • #11 by Keith Spillett on June 22, 2011 - 9:38 AM

      Thanks Frank! I always felt Haldeman and Erlichmann were poorly coupled. Erlichmann was a relatively normal fellow while Haldeman had a mean streak the size of the Hoover Dam. Haldeman and Colson would have been a much more apt pair. Pat Buchanan once called Colson “the meanest man in American politics” which, coming from Buchanan, is high praise.

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