New Music

Electric Eels
The Eyeball of Hell
Scat Records

In the 1970s, Cleveland, Ohio, boasted one of the most insanely fucked-up (and therefore best) music scenes in the country.
They had Pere Ubu, Dead Boys and the Pagans, but the Electric Eels were the most insanely fucked-up of all. They played, like, six shows—most of which ended with them beating one another—and dedicated the considerable offstage portion of their three-year career to obsessively rehearsing and recording dozens of the most misanthropic, vicious, bilious proto-punk ever slashed across an analog tape. Forget "band": the Electric Eels were living, belligerent testimony to the triple ruin of drugs, drink and art. If they weren't cranking out their distinctive twin-guitar torture music, they were upping the ante with I-dare-you-to-stand-it free-jazz improvisations and gleefully repulsive riffs on pop culture (this CD's cover of "Dead Man's Curve") or just being totally unrepentent assholes. On that note, we'll declare a swastika alert right now ("I thought we were Lenny Bruce," explained Electric Eel Paul Marotta years later. "Our friends thought we were Adolf Hitler."). Those not already repulsed will find Eyeball as good an introduction to the Electric Eels as hard-to-find earlier CDs such as God Says Fuck You (the only really essential track Eyeball doesn't include is the spite-jam "No Nonsense"). It holds such classics as "Agitated," "You're Full of Shit" and "Cyclotron," crucially uncomfortable listening even today (thanks in part to vocalist Dave E.'s dada-damage lisping, so cruelly snotty that he makes Johnny Rotten sound like Michael Jackson), a credit to the Electric Eels' untamable fucked-up brilliance (or brilliant fucked-up-ed-ness). Just remember what Nietzsche said: when you listen to the abyss, the abyss listens back.

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