JAYNE/WAYNE COUNTY & THE ELECTRIC CHAIRS – Let Your Backbone Slip / Rock ‘n Roll Cleopatra [Transgender Punk Rock]

 

Jimi played guitar with rock and roll cool.
You wanna dirty sound you’ve got to treat your guitar cruel.
Manic depresssion’s gonna take you higher.
If you wanna make hot love you’ve gotta stand next to your fire.
[”Rock & Roll Resurrection” 1978]”

Jayne County was the John Waters of rock music, crafting blatantly offensive and goofy music that delivered mean-spirited entertainment and a hilarious freak show. Bragging up her own importance on virtually every other song, some of County’s best music can be found on this compilation. “Storm the Gates of Heaven” is one of the most silly, offensive, angry, and campy songs to grace the punk movement, delivering a disdain for Christianity with tongue firmly in cheek and middle finger proudly raised. Elsewhere she chastises those who won’t take her home (“Fuck Off”), celebrates the twisted men who go through her life (“Mean Muthafuckin’ Man”), and sings a tribute to filthy bathroom affairs (“Toilet Love”). Vile, nasty, and hilarious, County is obviously not for everyone. In fact, as the years go by, the audience who would enjoy her routine seems to get narrower and narrower. But this is a document of an important performance artist; in the ’70s her live shows couldn’t be touched for sheer energy and entertainment. And these songs were the backbone of those shows; even if they weren’t always good, they at least had the charismatic snarl of County delivering their hideous message. For anyone curious about the New York punk scene, this is high-priority stuff even if it contains some of the least-important music of the period. County, like many punk musicians, has overcome her talents to become a personality, and that personality is strong enough to make this a recommended collection. [Bradley Torreano]

”Rock me Jesus, roll me lord. Wash me in the blood of rock and roll”

 

”Jim was the master of show and tell.
You wanna go to heaven you gotta raise some hell.
The crystal ship is sinking. The ocean waves are rough.
If you wanna get down you’ve got to learn to get it up.”

 

Ambitious, eclectic, and absolutely contagious, Let Your Backbone Slip is the successor to the dynamite Rock ‘N Roll Cleopatra, a compilation that trawls a back catalog that too many people overlook — but which most would certainly enjoy. Image and reputation notwithstanding, Jayne County’s songwriting and performance evince an understanding of pop at its purest, one long series of electrifying jolts that evoke memories of a golden era as readily as they pinpoint the purpose of the modern age. That the modern age was usually too busy contemplating other charms at the time is its own problem. Chronologically, Let Your Backbone Slip opens by rounding up material from the first two Electric Chairs albums that was omitted from the earlier set; the avoidance of the group’s third LP, the sensational Things Your Mother Never Told You, meanwhile, is at least partially remedied by the inclusion of three tracks from a 1979 BBC session. In truth, the performances are nowhere near as great as the originals — “Berlin” is too fast, “Waiting for the Marines” is too straight — but they’re a fine inclusion regardless. The heart of Let Your Backbone Slip, however, delves into County’s 1980s material, a period that received precious little attention at the time and allowed two excellent albums, Betty Grable’s Legs and Private Oyster, to pass by unnoticed. Six tracks from the latter include the anthemic “Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl?,” the Cossack-themed “I Fell in Love With a Russian Soldier,” and the exquisite ’60s girl group pastiche “The Lady Dye Twist” (chorus: “I want a wedding just like Lady Diana”), all three of which insist that County’s grasp of rock & trash/kitsch & roll is as tight as it ever was at the height of her earlier, New York-centric fame. County’s true appeal, however, exceeds whatever parameters that description might lay out. Great pop music should be sexy, fun, moving, and motivating. From the deifying “Max’s” to the cruel “Bad in Bed,” from the mocking “Mr Normal” to the moving “Love Lives on Lies,” Let Your Backbone Slip is all four — and then some. [Dave Thompson]

 

”Speed demon, Hell is for heroes, I’m told
Speed demon, Lake of fire and brimestone
World War I, World War II,
World War III, that’s me and you

 

Collections of recordings from the first transsexual star of Punk rock which is definitively not for the faint of heart. Wayne started out doing impersonations of Cher, Dusty Springfield and Janis Joplin before finding his way with the Electric Chairs and spearheading the Punk movement of the mid-west. She shocked, she outraged, she pulled no punches. Her in-your-face attitude empowered her followers and helped usher the late ’70s Punk movement into the mainstream. These two comps feature 2 x 20 tracks from albums, singles and rare EP’s. Jayne/Wayne’s is one of the greatest unsung heroes of the early N.Y. punk scene. I’ve already posted his/hers entire catalogue but these are great best of collections, a MUST HAVE for punkers and other r’n’r’ faces. It’s a ”Transgender Rock ‘n Roll” alright! Dig!!!

 

”If you wanna rock and roll resurrection
you gotta have a rock and roll reformation.”

 

Rock'n Roll Cleopatra2let_cd_tray_950

 

 

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