CD Review

Rosemary's Babies – “Talking to the Dead”

By Marcus Pan

Talking to the DeadEerie Von has been involved in Jersey's hardcore scene for two decades now. From being with Danzig and Samhain to his solo release more recently, Eerie's first band consisted of a brutally heavy thrash punk called Rosemary's Babies. Recently re-released on Ghastly records, the Talking to the Dead CD consists of 25 tracks from the 1982-1983 Babies period. Players here are Eerie Von (drums), J.R. (vocals), Post Mortem (bass) and C.A. Richie (guitar) Subject matter includes horror, violence and angst. Similarities in the delivery can be found with Jerry's Kids, Descendants, Ex-Models(1), Suicidal Tendencies or The Misfits.

Songs on Talking to the Dead are fast and furious, many done inside of two minutes. Taking the punk sound that was still going strong in the early eighties they infused it with more anger and anguish and sped it up to near breakneck speeds to create hardcore. This is certainly an acquired taste – I've been to Descendants shows where half the crowd was immersed in it, the other half were annoyed by it. It's not something you'll like from the start. Hardcore is something you pick up after a long period of punk, death, jag, straight-edge and similar styles to eventually end up in the very fast version of it – hardcore like Rosemary's Babies.

A lot of people would argue that the talent expressed in acts like Rosemary's Babies are minimal at best and in many instances I'd agree with them. Much of Talking to the Dead can be considered only barely musical – and that only because there's a few instruments involved. Speed and aggression does not always make up for inability. But something has to be said about the ability to play at this speed, this long and put on the type of roller coaster shows that Rosemary's Babies, friends The Misfits, Descendants and Jerry's Kids provide at a live event. Hardcore thrash is as much about the scene and being there as it is about the music and the playing. In many cases, the playing itself and the releasing of CDs is a secondary thing – done many times for the sole purpose of getting people to come to the scene. It's not life with music – it's music as life.

Don't expect to understand what J.R. is saying for most of the time. His voice will cut you just as readily as a thrash played axe. The few times you can understand him – Attack of the 50ft Cowboy for example – it’s laced with dripping sarcasm and over the top twang. Sounds of Death is, in many ways, sung as one and I'm Gonna Be Sick can almost make you just that, especially to someone not already familiar with this genre.

You're not going to pick up Talking to the Dead as a musical accessory. You're going to pick it up because you’re hardcore. You want it for the fact that Rosemary's Babies and their ilk held the town of Lodi, New Jersey in their bloodsucking grasp and you either remember that, want to remember that or wish you had those memories to call up. You're going to get this for the four tracks that were recorded live at the world famous CBGB's in New York City. This is for the collector and the connoisseur, not the folks who happened to have stumbled upon it while flipping through the R's looking for Rolling Stones. This is original – and rarely matched – hardcore punk.

Contact Information:
Mag Wheel Promotions Canada
Post: PO Box 555, Stn. P, Toronto, ON, M5S 2T1, Canada
(1) See Legends #134 for the review of their Other Mathematics CD.

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