Saturday, May 31, 2014

Death of Samantha-"If Memory Serves Us Well"

St. Valentine Records

Twenty four years after the release of  the acclaimed "Come All Ye Faithless", Death of Samantha's then perceived swan-song, Cleveland's long-loved underground rockers came back together for a reunion concert. In anticipation of the show Death of Samantha ended up recording "If Memory Serves Us Well" live in the studio. Spanning the length of their career, which would initially run from the summer of 1983 (when singer/guitarist John Petkovic first formed the band, which was named after a song from the highly overrated Plastic Ono Band, as "almost a joke") to 1990 (included here are the cuts "Now Its Your Turn (To Be A Martyr)" and "Rosenberg Summer" off of 1989's "Come All Ye Faithless") and with a remarkable 18 tracks in total (opener "Coca Cola & Licorice" having first served as my personal introduction to this post-punk/garage rock collective) this is one CD/double-LP that would be perfect for long-time fans and newcomers alike! Inside the CD copy that I received from the cool folks at Howlin' Wuelf Media ( there is a nice collage of Death of Samantha (or DOS for short!) pics as well as liner notes by Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees) and Robert Pollard (Guided by Voices) as well as a brief bio by Byron Coley. Meanwhile the double-LP version reportedly comes with insert poster. Either way you can't go wrong seeing as "If Memory Serves Us Well" is a good overview of these Cleveland rockers! As someone who spent a great deal of his formative years Ohio, inside and around both the metal and punk scene of Cleveland and beyond (lots of stories kids believe you me!) a retrospective look at an old favorite like this is always welcome! It's a bit of a toss up as to which of these two observations is more impressive, the fact that original four-piece lineup of DOS (vocalist/guitarist/clarinetist John Petkovic, lead guitarist Doug Gillard, bassist David James and drummer Steven "Steve-O" Eierdam) still sounds young and vibrant or the fact that early tracks such as "Conviction", "Couldn't Forget 'Bout That (One Item)" and "Amphetamine" are still fresh and relevant? I'd suggest that both items show why DOS was so important to our scene then and now! In their own way, playing by their own set of rules and refusing to be categorized as anything but simple Death of  Samantha, John Petkovic took a band that might have just started off a mere "joke" and created a timeless example of why, despite all the shortcomings of our Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland really does rock! For DOS it was in their blood. From real rock to punk Cleveland and it's surrounding area had it all and DOS soaked it up and in their own fashion they channeled that heritage and wove it into the likes of "Coca Cola & Licorice", "Amphetamine", "Bed of Fire", "Conviction" and "Turquoise Hand". Few post-punk/underground rock bands wrote such memorable songs as DOS did. Their music, even at it's most chaotic moments, was filled with wit and it carried along enough street cred to win over the punks, the hipsters and all the rock and rollers. "If Memory Serves Us Well" gathers all that brilliance, the songs which show us why we need the likes of DOS now more then every,  into one neat package. Needless to say this one has already been embraced by me and it will be well-loved from here o out until that great rock and roller up above calls me home!

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