Sunday, March 6, 2011

Wayne Kramer - the Hard Stuff

Wayne Kramer is nothing short of a living rock/punk legend. Having made his early mark as 1/5th of the proto-punk pioneers the MC5 in the late 60's/early 70's, spending the 70's in & out of music & jail. The late 70's/early 80's brought activity in post-MC5 projects including Gang War, formed with former New York Dolls guitarist, Johnny Thunders. Following Gang War, Kramer spent some time in fusion band Was (Not Was) as well as producing and playing with various bands & musicians.

In the early 90's he resurfaced under his own name after a reunited MC5 had played in honor of their deceased singer, Rob Tyner. Kramer's first solo-record is "The Hard Stuff." Having heard the lead track on the very first Punk-O-Rama (when it was actually a compilation and not a series of samplers) which I had actually, brace yourself, pre-ordered on cassette tape; I was very curious to hear more of Kramer's stuff. As fortune would have it, I would find a copy of the LP at local record shop, Cheap Guy Music.

A real shock to my still fairly young and abrasively inclined punk ears. The album towed the line between the music I was listening to and the music my mother had played throughout much of my youth. Still fairly unfamiliar with the MC5 beyond their place in punk history, the Hard Stuff threw open the door and provided an updated look into punk's past.

For the recording of the Hard Stuff, Kramer assembled a wide array of musicians to help him bring the record to life. Many songs featured Claw Hammer backing him, but the current line-up of the Melvins appear on one track, while label head honcho and Bad Religion guitarist Brett G. appears along with Matt & Brett from Rancid on another track. Spread throughout are members of many other bands, from Pennywise to former band mate in Was (Not Was) singer Sweet Pea Atkinson and drummer-for-hire, Josh Freese. Overall, the record doesn't miss a beat and shows no suffering from a rotation of different musicians that can sometimes plague solo albums of that nature. Punk roots, rock fury, and even some spoken word mixed in, along with the re-recording of an MC5 classic, "Poison."

Favorite tracks include rockers "Poison", "Realm of Pirate Kings", & "Edge of the Switchblade" along side the slower rock n roll love-tragedy "Junkie Romance." There's even some spoken word thrown in, giving a little for everyone. Don't miss an underrated punk/rock gem that is sadly out of print.

DOWNLOAD: Wayne Kramer - "The Hard Stuff"

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