Like many of you out there I’m sure, I hold a large list in my brain of bands that somehow found their way onto a compilation somewhere in the late 70’s or early 80’s and were never heard from again. Somewhere in that tangle of band names made up of either three initials or ending with the word ‘youth,’ you will most definitely find Noh Mercy. The two tracks they contributed to the 1979 released Earcom 3 compilation—”Caucasian Guilt” and “Revolutionary Spy”—are befuddlement incarnate. The former, a nihilistic spew of racial epithets; the later a goofy number about acting out Mati Hari fantasies set to pow-wow rhythms. Both tunes have twisted my lid for many a year now, leaving me in constant bewilderment in regards to the recording process, the people involved and what the hell the rest of their material sounded like. Well, I guess my sleepless nights are over. Here it is: The entire recorded output of the San Francisco based band complete with a booklet brimming over with info, lyrics and pics.
Well, first off, I now know they were just a duo of vocalist Esmerelda and drummer Tony Hotel; I always assumed the reason I couldn’t hear the rest of the instruments was due to a shitty recording or something. From the extensive liner notes penned by Esmerelda and Hotel themselves, I am now aware that this was not some gush of expression that splurted from Punk. Both women came out of the Jazz and Psychedelic Rock underground of the city’s 60s scene; Hotel jamming with Chet Baker and Esmerelda dropping copious amounts of acid while living with the Ace of Cups (Holy shit!) ‘What about the god damned actual music?’ I hear you ask. Give me a second with that one, will you? It’s taking me awhile to process that one…
As I stated above, the two tracks Noh Mercy left upon the world up until now hardly defined what the rest of their material could have sounded like. And now that said material is laid out there in all its indecent exposure, it’s still hard to pinpoint what the hell they were up to. In other words, it’s fucking fantastic. A track like “Lines” could find them hammered in easily with similarly angular art punks from their area, but what about these surprisingly reverent takes on Beatles and Doors tunes? Sure, they’re twisting their own musical language all over these tracks (especially on Lennon and McCartney’s “Girl”) but these certainly ain’t no gobs in the face of past generations. But the tracks that close out the LP, Cross the Line and The Meek Shall Inherit the Mess might be the most brain-burning. Cross the Lines could be a floppy-minded outtake from The Scream while The Meek… reminds me of something off Genesis’ Foxtrot. “Get ‘Em out By Friday” perhaps?
It’s very nice to get the keys to a kingdom you wondered about for so long and still not be sure if you can grasp it. Fuck everyone who is mining the vaults for every paddle thrash band or synthed-out naval gazer from a Podunk town. This is the essential shit from the past that can teach a whipper snapper a thing or two.
No Boys on Guitar FOREVER! [Superior Viaduct]
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