Saturday, December 20, 2008
My wife told me today that a local record store has an original pressing of this album that can be yours for just $800. Fortunately, Relapse reissued it a couple years ago, making it a little more affordable to fans of musty old hard rock like myself. Warpig came charging out of Woodstock, Ontario in the early '70s, obviously inspired by overseas bands like Deep Purple and Uriah Heep. Warpig’s own interpretation of this nascent sound is pretty bang-on the money (maybe a little too accurate in the case of “Speed King” doppelganger “Rock Star”), while approaching the style with a certain Canadian deliberation compared to the balls-out boundary pushing of their more regal British counterparts. While Dana Snitch is no Jon Lord (his somewhat prissy Clavinet sound can’t compete with Lord’s roaring Hammond) and Terry Hook is no Ian Paice, the band as a whole can certainly play—Rick Donmoyer in particular is a first-class guitarist, and as a singer can hit high notes to rival Heep’s David Byron (even, at times, King Diamond!). The songs are impressive in their riffcentricness and speedy pace, as well as their eccentricity. Warpig obviously recognized that the pop song form had by then become an infinitely malleable entity, filling their songs with strange twists and turns to augment basic verse/chorus structures. A song like “Melody with Balls” manages to fit some early metal riffing, slide guitar solos, freeform descents into noise, and a lot of pace changes into six minutes. Or “Advance Am,” an downright barmy instrumental led by Snitch’s harpsichord-like riffs. The opening of “U.X.I.B.” features a similar keyboard sound before diving into a blues-by-way-of-Black-Sabbath groove. I’m happy Relapse unearthed this one; it slots in nicely along with their two Pentagram compilations in putting the spotlight on North America’s neglected proto-metal heroes. If there’s someone out there who wants to drop $800 on an original copy, more power to them, but $20 for this lovingly packaged and annotated version is an excellent value.