Monday, May 20, 2013

20th Anniversary Edition

Come played the blues. Not like the White Stripes or the Black Keys.  More like Patti Smith and Black Sabbath, with a little bit of Joplin-like anguish thrown in to stir the pot. Two harsh, interlocking guitars, sounding grimy, dirty, dark and angry, yet flowing and highly melodic. It’s like this lyrically too, but for all the loss and dashed dreams sung about, there is also a strong thread of hope and redemption throughout, a break in the clouds on a rainy day. 

Thalia Zedek, who played in Dangerous Birds, Uzi and Live Skull, formed Come with guitarist Chris Brokaw, Sean O’Brien on bass, and drummer Arthur Johnson in 1990, in Boston. Their first release was the single “Car “ on Sub Pop’s singles club, a very good song.  Eleven:Eleven, their full length debut for Matador, won much acclaim in 1993,  and it’s easy to see why. Zedek was, and is, mesmerizing. Her anguished, gritty yet resolute and confident singing rang out furiously.  That she was out when you weren’t supposed to be was very daring, and getting sober after years of hard drug use helped, too.  Her guitar playing dazzles, as does Brokaw. Even though this was characterized as noise rock, I find their music soothing, a way to get out a lot of pain, if you’ve got it.  And the add-on to the album, the 7-inch “Fast Piss Blues” and “I Got The Blues,” fits in seamlessly.

The live disk from 10/10/92, a performance from the Vermonstress Festival included in the reissue, shows how powerful the band could be live. O’Brien and Johnson shine here, providing a moving yet sturdy foundation for the guitar wildness going on onstage.  While Zedek and Brokaw stretch out a bit on here, they don’t jam. For all the wildness, it’s just a twisted framework to work from and rock out in.  Zedek growls her words, and the frenzied way she sings matches the guitars note for note. Pavement, Sugar, Dinosaur Jr., and Nirvana requested them for tours, and they were absolutely right to do so.

The reissue of this wonderful album, that has been out of print until now, is also a reminder that there was more to alternative rock than grunge.  There was an underground, and Come was one of the best bands in it.  Don’t miss this album. Its reissue shines a light on what was going on below the surface of rock at the time, and it’s very welcome. 
Andrea Weiss

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