This EP is one of the best Electric Frankenstein releases. As usual the band blends together the best ideas from 50's rock n' roll, 60's garage, 70's hard rock and 80's punkrock. But Listen up baby is also an important moment in EF history, because it marks the return of singer Steve Miller to the line up.
So this is the band at their finest: non-stop energy, well done song structures, catchy but not happy melodies, no overly long tracks and Miller's scratchy throated voice. This record shows
a progression towards a less hard but faster sound, in one word Punk n'Roll.
Listen up baby features also a supercool cover art. As everyone knows many Electric Frankenstein albums are illustrated by well known artists in the rock/punk scene (Coop, Derek Hess, Cliff Mott, Gary Gilmore among others).
This one is made by the underground art guru Frank Kozik and it features also (on the Man's Ruin edition) a beautiful Frankenstein-like green vinyl. The Man's Ruin version (which I have, hehehe, and is here reviewed) is not available anymore, so TKO records decided to reissue the record with quite a few extra songs, extending it out to a LP. In addition EF added seven songs including "The Perfect Crime" and "Nail it Down", which were originally released as a single for Sub Pop, and a cover of Rubino's "Rock n' Roll is Dead".
Yeah, baby, listen up. Prior engagements found EF splitting Dead Boys razor punk swagger and AC/DC crunch down the middle so evenly, that not mentioning such was just plain lyin'. Although this is not a shiny new beast by any means, all the miles and trials the Frankenstein has endured over the long hard years as punk and roll's primo torch bearers has taught them a thing or two about mixing it up and spreading it around, so that everybody gets some. "Listen Up Baby" is absolutely top shelf, prime time cock rock that takes the original formula and - that's right- electrifies it, until there's bright blue sparks shooting right out of the speakers and dead things start rising all over the place. Snotty enough for even the most anti-social safety pin-pusher, but powerful and heavy enough for the belt buckle contingence, these rock monsters sleaze and please the angry villagers but good. The fact that they're not young or pretty just adds to the effect, because maybe you haven't been reading the literature, but neither is rock and roll, baby. But it most definitely is alive.
Arguably one of the most prolific garage rockers
of the past decade, LISTEN UP, BABY has been reissued for everyone's
delight. Armed with the same six songs that made this EP such a seminal
release, there's a slew of bonuses on this bad boy that makes it nearly
impossible to pass up, such as hard to find singles and two new songs
to rock out to, not to mention the original stellar artwork by Frank
Kozik. What else do you need, an invitation? Get your ass to the record
store and support real rock and roll and quite possibly one of New
Jersey's finest this side of Springsteen.
By the time Listen Up Baby! was originally
recorded, Electric Frankenstein was already well known for spearheading
the real punk n' roll revival here in the states. Listen Up Baby! was
an important moment as it marked the return of singer Steve Miller to
the lineup and also showcased the band on what is often considered to
be one of their finest efforts. It was EF in top form, churning out
high energy, no frills rock n' roll.
The EP itself was almost lost forever due to the
demise of Man's Ruin records (much like far too many other quality
albums). Now TKO Records has reissued Listen Up Baby! with quite a few
extra songs, extending it out to LP length. The original EP material is
actually from the Electric Frankenstein/Hookers split album (rather
than the Listen Up Baby! EP release) Man's Ruin released in 1998 that
featured two extra tracks, "Rocket In My Veins" and "You're So Fake."
Those two tracks actually were originally released as the "Rocket In My
Veins" 7". In addition, EF added five additional songs including "The
Perfect Crime" and "Nail It Down," which were originally released as a
single for Sub Pop, and the cover of The Rubinos' "Rock N' Roll Is
Dead," which was originally released on the Sod the Odds! EP for TBS
Records. Ever in the quest to give their fans some value for their
dollar, the band added two new tracks, "Final Damnation" and "Crank
Action," which feature the more streamlined roster of Miller, The
Canzonieri brothers Sal and Dan, and drummer John Steele.
Part of the reason this album is so revered and
sought after by hardcore EF fans are tracks like "Listen Up, Baby,"
"Neurotic Pleasures," and "Hostage Situation" which are perfect
blueprints of the band's sound: the buzzsaw guitars, hyper rhythms, and
Miller's scratchy throated vocals. "Takin It All" just about flies
apart at the tempo it's played at, but EF's well polished musicianship
holds it together. "Rocket In My Veins" is still one of the band's best
written songs with that perfect mix of aggression and catchy hooks.
"Perfect Crime" is signature for the band's later output, showing a
more metal tinged bent to the rock sound the band cultivated over a
Overall, a nice way to resurrect this monster of an EP and give it some
new life. This is Electric Frankenstein at their finest so check it
Satan Stole My Teddy Bear
Green 10" EP released in late 1998, after Steve Miller rejoined the band. This EP foreshadows the direction that EF is taking as we near the next millennium. There has been a slight shift in sound since Steve rejoined, and this record signals that change. I attribute it to his more active role in the band this time around, whereas his first stint as vocalist was understood to be temporary from the beginning. At any rate, the songs are more bottom-heavy and the production seems much slicker and more professional. The newer recordings aren't as distorted as older tracks like "Electrify Me!" or "It's All Moving Faster". Is that a pro or a con? It depends on my mood. I can say that I love all six of these songs and don't mind so much that these are faster than what I'm used to. These songs, like all other EF recordings, are full of catchy hooks, choruses, the whole nine yards, but not catchy in a pop-punk or gimmicky way - this is definitely ROCK. These songs definitely move you, inside and out. The first three tracks are the ones to watch out for-they are among the strongest I've heard from any band in a long time. EF's sound is going through a metamorphosis as we near 2000, but it's a natural and healthy progression. Fans of older EF material need not be afraid, they still rock.
Monster guitar rock doesn't come much heavier and simpler than Electric Frankenstein, and if'n you haven't had the pleasure, may I suggest you get set to blow them speakers bub. A rip-roaring dozen originals and a decidedly Kiss take on the Rubinoos "Rock and Roll is Dead" makes for a killer no filler slab. Three chord simpleton rawk has never left, it was just waiting for the party to come alive again.
This is one more example of what I think is just
amazing about music. Electric Frankenstein uses pretty much the same
three chords in each song, as well as similar percussive rhythms and
bass lines, but each song sounds different from the other! An
also-amazing thing about this is that while there are many other bands
that subscribe to this "three-chord-one-beat" philosophy, most of their
songs sound exactly the same as one another. Perhaps it's the sheer joy
in performing that comes across in Electric Frankenstein's recordings
that makes the difference, an energy that's so contagious that you just
have to get up and jump around the room at some point in the listening
- or at least I do. This is just fun stuff to listen to, and even after
20 years of listening to what amounts to the same punk rock song, I
like this band. Dammit, I really do.