Big Sexy Noise: Collision Course & Trust The Witch – album review
Big Sexy Noise: Collision Course/Trust The Witch (Cherry Red)
Release Date 23rd Sept 2013
Collision Course is a new live set and Trust The Witch a reissue of Big Sexy Noise’s last studio album. Combined they make up one of the best releases of the year in Ged Babey’s opinion and mark a highpoint in the career of Lydia Lunch; she’s discovered having fun!
We love Big Sexy Noise at Louder Than War. Guy does . Phil does and I do. Somehow though we never reviewed the mighty 2011 studio LP Trust The Witch which was, and still is, a brutal, bluesy, sexy, noisy album where three of Gallon Drunk (Terry Edwards: sax & organ, James Johnston: guitar and Ian White: drums) back Lydia Lunch on a musical journey through No-Wave, Grunge, Heavy Rock & the Blues into a Heart of Darkness.
At times they sound like Eartha Kitt possessed by a demon jamming with The Stooges , at others the American Gothic feel of Mama Lunch’s 13:13 is recalled. Other dirty, sleazy riffage sounds like Led Zeppelin and Hendrix motifs, undercut with squalling saxophone. Lunch channels her inner Janis Joplin and for a singer who can’t hold a tune in a rusty bucket with the lid welded on it, she does a damn fine job of singing her punk-rock-blues & tales from the seedy underbelly of Amerikkka.
Ironically, its probably the most commercial album Lydia has ever made if you consider her uncompromising back-catalogue from Teenage Jesus to the various collaborations with assorted Immaculate Consumptives and beyond. 2004’s Smoke in the Shadows saw her back in moody jazz territory with a nod to the Queen of Siam era but since hooking up with Terry Edwards and co, this is finally Lunch as part of a proper, full on, albeit bass-less band. They are not just hired hands and Johnston in particular is a revelation; surely one of the most inventive and talented rock’n’noise guitarists around. White and Terry Edwards are virtuoso too but retaining a loose improvisational feel.
Trust the Witch is an album bursting with carnal obsession, illicit pleasure and existential pain, full of sinewy rock grooves and croaky, growling declarations of love and hate. It has a cinematic vibe, in a Coen Brothers, David Lynch style obviously. Its destined to be my favourite Lunch Time album alongside 13:13…. there’s not a weak track or a standout and its designed to be, and best heard, as a whole rather than piecemeal. And if that wasn’t enough the Live CD is even better!
“Apart from James, ‘Jumbo’, ‘the Human Jukebox’ Johnston, are there any other blue-eyed, big-dicked, baby-faced killers in the audience? Just asking.”
Drawls Lydia in her perennial bored tone, introducing one song. Another introduction is;
“Ladies. Here is another revenge fantasy for you..”
But the pinnacle of the live set is ‘Your Love Don’t Pay My Fuckin Rent, Bitch Boy!’ during which she comes-on-to, humiliates and verbally abuses a ‘cute’ 17 year old boy in the audience. The song has a couple of abrupt halts, giving Lydia space to talk and hector and let her vicious tongue go to work, before a squall of feedback signals the lurch back into the riff. The thing is though, compared to the angry, confrontational performances she gave in past decades, Lydia seems to be (dare I say it…) enjoying herself. She is still fierce and no doubt as volatile as ever but she chuckles, cackles and plays-up the part of the sexually predatory vamp-witch-queen, without it detracting one iota from the intensity of the music. Lydia’s having fun creating her monster, and the is the best Lydia Live recording since the legendary Harry Crews set Naked in Garden Hills – from which the Gospel Singer is reprised on Collision Course.
Terry Edwards is absent from the live set so no sax or organ meaning its a full on Johnston Versus Lunch battle held together by the great jazz-punk drumming of Ian White. Its a visceral, dirty, grungey, fiercesome sound and a live album you can return to time and time again until you actually really think you can remember what a great night you had and can taste the liquor and feel the sweat and hear the feedback ringing through your ears again.
After the third storming song Lydia declares, in her unmistakable way, pausing for emphasis between words;
“And that. Is Why. Its called.
1. Mahakali Calling
2. Cross The Line
3. Ballin’ The Jack
4. Your Love Don’t Pay My Rent
7. Trust The Witch
8. Collision Course
9. Gospel Singer
10. Baby Faced Killer
11. Forever On The Run
Trust The Witch
1. Ballin’ The Jack
2. Cross The Line
3. Won’t Leave You Alone
4. Mahakali Calling
5. Trust The Witch
6. Devil’s Working Overtime
7. Where You Gonna Run
8. Collision Course
9. Not Your Fault
10. Forever On The Run
Big Sexy Noise can be found at their website.
All words by Ged Babey. More writing by Ged Babey can be found in his Louder Than War archive.