Effigies CD reviewed by Steve Miller

The Effigies - Reside


By the time the stage cleared at Chicago's Club Metro on December 7, 1980, the Effigies had sealed the deal in their quest to get the city's formidable punk rock crew behind them. The band was opening for Black Flag, Dez-era, and greatness was awaiting both groups. The place was half-full and about as cold as the outside temp, in the teens. But the Effigies had thudded through a Brit-flavored set that kept the floor alight with leathered and studded meanies. A little over three years later, For Ever Grounded, the Effigies brilliant first long player, would grace our ears and convince many of us that if anyone deserved to emerge from the smoldering pit of lousy post-hardcore and into some new, misshapen form of the mainstream, it was this foursome.

For reasons that still elude, it didn't happen. The band's focal point was always that guitar, the fluid melding with the bombast. Earl Letiecq remains in memory as a master of the craft, a madman who was tamed only when he was playing in some sort of machine-like barrage of chords and notes. Singer John Kezdy's sensitive, “who-am-I?” lyrics portrayed a lost soul who was wiser than his peers. The metronome single-headedness of the bass and drums completed the picture, and it was a work of art.

Then it was over. The band never achieved what it was supposed to. There were break-ups, bastardized reunions, and even further albums and singles. They were ridiculous efforts with little passion and, accordingly, garnered little interest from the general public, which had moved on.

There was also profound egotism and stupidity on the part of the Effigies. Anyone recall a letter a few years back sent by the band to a Web site that had posted some Effigies mp3s, demanding the songs be removed? As if they were being cheated out of royalties? This was a band that could only shoot straight when the weapon was pointed at its foot.

A couple of years ago, when this CD, Reside, was released, I had asked a fellow close to the band if he could send me one. A band I was in as a youth, the Fix, had this fellow as a manager and he went on to manage the Effigies as well. A copy never arrived, and I figured he was embarrassed. A batch of new songs released to the public as the band hits middle age is rarely smart. And I never thought about the Effigies or that “new” release again; Until now. And I wonder what his trepidation was. Reside is a terrific slice of guitar-led songs and full of genuinely touching lyrics that reflect the growth of a band that has also managed to embrace its past. The thick rhythm section hasn't lost a step. And the inside features profile photos that U2 would be proud of, showing some wizened age rather than wastage.

So what we have is the logical extension of For Ever Grounded, almost 25 years later. And the noble element here is that this is not a band with some sort of illusion that, finally, the attention and plaudits it received when the scene was flush with praise and critical acclaim, will return. There's too much wisdom among the guys—Letiecq is ably replaced now by a guy named Robert McNaughton, who joined up with the other three originals in 2004—to think that its never too late to be a star. It is too late, of course. But just knowing that they cranked out Reside at such a time in their lives should give them a graceful ease to their age. [Criminal IQ]



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