Library Music

Weed to whiskey. Photo courtesy Relapse Records

 There were bands for whom the '70s were Black Sabbath and bands for whom the '70s were the Stooges—it's a complex ratio of weed:whiskey—but Pentagram were the rare both-at-once, an unstable blob of Virginia longhairs who figured out that between "Gimme Danger" (Pentagrammed into the creepy "Last Days Here") and "Electric Funeral" (Pentagrammed into "When the Screams Come"), it was all just one big death trip anyway. And as anyone who ever had to choose between career and family knows, the death trip comes first: Pentagram made every shot they had into spectacularly self-sabotaging Russian roulette, suiciding over and over by a) cursing out major-label engineers during a tense demo session; b) showing up late to the rehearsal where Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons were waiting to be impressed; c) refusing to sell their "Starlady" (a cocky Alice Cooper-ish rocker) to that same Simmons and Stanley for a legendary 10 grand; d) slaughterhousing through more than two dozen lineups in as many years; and for the big finish e) belly-flopping into drugs so hard that 2005 reports had front man Bobby Liebling facing double arm amputation. Meanwhile, Iggy dates stewardesses and Ozzy hosts the highest-rated documentary program on cable—it's a shit life. But re-collection First Daze comps scattered '70s Pentagram singles (often released under noms-de-please-buy-this as Macabre or the adorably misspelled Macbre, due to feared confusion with the extremely similar Pentangle) and demos into a never-was LP with the heavy footprint of a Vincebus Eruptum. Metalloid elements—Hendrix/Sabbath/Stooges—and esoterica—"Livin' in a Rams Head" has the same tank treads as Highway Robbery; "20 Buck Spin" has the out-of-focus fuzz of Randy Holden, whose 1970 solo album is FirstDaze's wombtwin—add up here to a submerged American fundamental, "unknown merely," wrote rock resurrector Julian Cope, graciously glossing off the death trip, "because of the obscurity of the pond from which it chose to ooze."  

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