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The Very Best of The Judys


“ROCK 'N' ROLL FOR MATURE ADULTS WHO WILL NEVER GROW UP"
It’s 2017. The Earth is war-torn wasteland. Pollutant vapours hang in clouds over dystopic remnants of the world’s long past glories of culture and achievement. Chuck Berry is dead.
What has rendered this formerly verdant globe to such shriveled remains? Greenhouse gasses? Not possible. Lack of respect for rock’n’roll music is the culprit. Millennial disinterest, fragmentation of the music industry, the twilight of the rock deities. Ragnarok’n’Roll has come. 
Yet in these dismal endtimes, on the horizon is a glimmer of hope for a beaten and derided genre. Etched in flame on the skies is its name: The Judys. Yes, there is one band come to save rock music, perhaps civilization as we know it. Its testament can be heard on The Very Best of The Judys.
 Of all The Judys’s releases, of which there is one, this is the distillate, the essence of rock music.Wearing its influences on its natty sleeves, The Judys recalls the New York Dolls, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Rhythm Mission, Jazzmanian Devils, Art Bergmann’s Poisoned. Straight ahead, driving rhythms, with vocalist Dennis Mills’s voice singing lyrics that, by God, speak to all you former teenagers. 
Right off we kick in with Freedom 85: “The race to the bottom is over….” That’s right, where the music has always concerned the young man blues, this hits home for those for whom death will be the only retirement. Over slashes of Scott Fletcher’s sheet metal guitar, Mills intones, “Can’t afford a hole in the ground….” 
Judy’s Got a Big Mouth is almost a rap articulated over Cramps-tone Peter Gunn-style guitar that devolves into a skreeling guitar solo of sinus-clearing proportions.
 Then step in the time capsule for a venerable rarity, Walk on the Water, the B-side of Creedence Bilgewater Revival’s cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’s I Put a Spell on You, a Christly look at approaching Death personified as the Messiah over a Clash-like arrangement. If Creedence had been this good… ah, but why go there….
 Frontman Dennis Mills is somewhat legendary for his full head of bushy hair (something that for a former punk is either sterling genetics or Propecia)and jazz-glam wardrobe. He sets styles, he doesn’t follow them. But, in this day of genderless washrooms and dead Bowies, he brings Genda Blenda, perhaps his homage to Rebel Rebel. With an ear for a great pop hook this quirkiest of post-punk combos drives this tune with a riff reminiscent of Sugar Loaf’s Green Eyed Lady.
WTFM is short form for Walking Talking Fertile Man. “I’m over 50, but I do the best I can, I’m looking good, I got morning wood….” Yes the post-middle-age dream. “My hair is perfect and it’s perfectly understood….”A similar follicular focus enhances the great hooks and chorus of Kick My Ass. “Hey, baby, nobody touches my hair / You got no business going there….”
A Town Called Hell dives into a country parody not unlike the Stones’s Faraway Eyes. Lap steel guitar player Dano Five-O shines here with long lunar notes that scrape the big sky.
Then, over the sound of Israelite slave gangs lugging great blocks of stone to erect the pyramids, we have what may or may not be a contribution to the canon of cock rock,Hulala. Then again, a lyric that is mainly “ Everybody wants a little piece of my Hulala,” may best go unanalyzed.
The Judys cover Venus of Avenue D by punk stalwart Willie Deville with Pete Fiend outstanding on fuzz bass. Blasts of distortion and tack-hammer piano madness lead to a vast chorus with female backup singers, The Bigmouth BGs, and some shredding guitar. Shades of the Velvet Underground.
Happy Mother’s Day could be a single off this album. On its surface it seems a hot poppy celebration of all the phoney Hallmark holidays. It is actually a meditation on Alzheimer’s and lost family. Even so, Mills lets loose his inner Eric Burdon or David Johansen in a bona-fide snarling rock anthem.
In Sex and the Single Malt, Mills reflects on excesses and divorce over great Chuck Berry-influenced guitar. It is as perfect a pop song as has ever been written, locked down by the Vancouver scene’s top drummer of choice Taylor Little (Payola$, Art Bergmann). This is the key song on this record. If you do not hear this, you will not know the sound of 2017. 
Thus, a theme emerges: it is getting later in the game, one must work harder to stay in shape, watch your finances, but the joys of rebellion and loud music are still there. The world has gone to Hell in a handbasket, but we can still rattle our bones to the joyful noise of the fin de siecle. 
The Judys have carried the torch of what Lou Reed once called “rock’n’roll for adults.” Death, destiny, defeat, dissipation, disillusionment, all are sweetly celebrated herein. And the apocalypse’s approach has never sounded better.To call The Very Best of The Judys a near-perfect album cut of the same stern cloth as Exploding Plastic Inevitable, Sticky Fingers and One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This is not overstatement.    It is rock’n’roll for mature adults who will never grow up.
Les Wiseman

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