Figures of Light – “Smash Hits”

Holly and I were invited to a wedding that was held in Olypmia, WA, the state capitol which is about a 90 minute drive south of where we live.  Because traffic generally sucks at any time day or not between our house and the seat of state power, we never go there unless we have to or we’re on our way somewhere cool like Portland.  When I went on my Portland excursion a few weeks ago it took us well over two hours just to get to Olympia.  I was ready to lose my mind.

So since we knew the traffic was unpredictable, the only thing to do was leave early, stop in Tacoma to visit Hi-Voltage Records to scope out the vinyl followed by the Red Hot for the famous bacon and peanut butter hot dog (no joke), then get down to Olympia early to make sure we didn’t crash the event right in the middle of the nuptials.  Nuptials that as it turned out included a string quartet that played renditions of songs by Guns ‘N’ Roses, Queen, Eric Clapton, and The Beatles.  For real.

We took advantage of this rare visit to Olympia to hit up Fish Tale Brewery for some cold drinks, but also stopped into a couple of records stores – Rainy Day Records and Phantom City Records.  Phantom City was tiny, and though it had a great selection of punk rock (and a huge collection of Maximum Rocknroll magazine) I still came away empty.  And Rainy Day, however, I picked up a few things including today’s nugget, Smash Hits by Figures of Light.

Now, Smash Hits is kind of odd.  Take a garage proto-punk band from 1970, have them get on with their lives, including one of the band members getting a PhD, then get them back together in 2007 when they’re fogies to re-record some of their originals and play a couple of live shows.  And put it all on one record, along with three vintage live recordings from 1970-72.  And now I hear they’ve been putting out some new music as well.  Go figure.

Some of the songs on Smash Hits sounded awfully familiar, most notably “Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie” and “Nothing To Do,” the latter of which I was absolutely convinced was also done by the Gun Club, though I could never manage to track down the song and/or verse that made me think this.  You’ve got an homage to American muscle in “Black Cadillac,” and a suggestion that you stop talking about it and just get on with it already in “Why Not Knock Yourself Off?”  And don’t forget the aptly titled “Seething Psychosexual Conflict Blues.”

While the record has 16 tracks, there are only actually 13 songs since three of them are on here twice…. including two different studio versions of “Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie” which is a bit odd.  Regardless, this is still some tight garage punk with only one song passing the three minute barrier, and these old dudes can still rock out pretty good.