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Common Ailments Of Maturity - Smoldering Lunchbox (1988)
April 30 1987 Fed up with hearing "proud Mary" and "We've Only Just Begun" every night for twelve consecutive years, Dennis Plinn abandons his lucrative position as musical director of a carribean cruise ship. He moves to Boston, taking a job as piano accompanist for a strip tease act at the Naked I Cabaret in the city's notorious combat zone. Although the money isn't good, Plinn finds his new occupation spiritually uplifting.
October 1 1987 Lawrence Dersch is financially ruined, alcoholic and homeless. Once a well respected radio and television technician, his skill have become obsolete with the advent of the microchip. Desperate, Dersch turns to panhnandling in Boston's subway corridors. On this evening, though, his fortune takes a turn for the better...Dersch discovers he can triple his income by beating out rhythms on the foreheads of passing commuters. Dersch becomes a local celebrity overnight.
October 21, 1987 5:45 PM Timothy Ratdiet, importer of counterfeit Fender Stratocasters, locks up his office on the tenth floor of a dingy warehouse in Boston's Chinatown section. In a dark mood after making a hush money payment to a U.S. department of Commerce official, Ratdiet drives his '83 Porsche 911 two blocks to the Naked I for a stiff drink and a new attitude.
October 22, 1987 2:35 AM After a massive barroom brawl at the Naked I, Ratdiet, Plinn and Dersch find themselves sharing a shell in Boston Police District Four Headquarters. Discovering a common interest, the three while away the hours waiting for a bailbondsman by singing Lithuanian folk songs of the 18th century. Common Ailments of Maturity is born.
I'm sure they had seen Jim Jarmusch's "Down By Law", before they have this on the insert of "Smoldering Lunchbox"...
Anyway, after this introduction, you would expect something special - and Common Ailments of Maturity are special indeed.
Here's a couple of reviews:
CAM appeals to everyone from enthusiasts of Last Exit to Gang Of Four to Big Black to the afore mentioned King Cnmson. One reviewer had choice words for their live show: "The three piece pack a great deal of sound, complete with incredibly funky bass Iines, tight rhythms and tribal drumming. The band seems to have fun on stage as shown by the fact that they have long instrumental jams at the beginning and the end of many of their songs...A complete musical frenzy of funk, jazz and punk. (Creative Loafing/Fred Mills)
This trio from Boston comes across like a much larger group but the proof is in the live show and I've heard that theirs are some of the best ever in the history of our solar system. Their disharmonic rock and roll sound is sure to send the more alternative into a frenzy. (The Spectrum, Buffalo NY) Active for about 5 years (1985-1990) Common Ailments of Maturity released 3 albums and 2 singles, were praised by the music press, played with the best of the Boston underground, but had a relatively small impact at the end. If you listen to this album you'll admit that this couldn't happen otherwise: they played a noisy, difficult, uncompromising music, highly personal and not easily labeled, which could never attract a wide audience.
Common Ailments Of Maturity's "Smoldering Lunchbox" is aptly titled. There are points on the album where CAM might be trying to smother a smoldering lunchbox with, oh, say a sledge hammer. Their combination of noise - fuzz guitar, synths and drums - shreds your listening environment while feeling strangely comfortable. "Carpetbag", "Mental Block", "Stake" and "Drop Dead" are the best tracks on this intriguing LP. (Audio Bits 1989) On the first track CAoM seems to want to make the listener take the record off the turntable: a cacophonous guitar, disturbing vocals, unfamiliar synthesized sounds and arhythmic drumming, and all these recorded over the telephone. But the first notes of the second track will pin you down: a purely arabic/middle eastern rhythm with a synthesized simoon blowing over it and slightly british post-punk vocals make this one a tremendous listen. Similar is the next track but in much more western style - this time the unorthodox guitar schemes manage to create a difficult melody. Side A closes with a fast "jazzy" track that ends somehow noisy. Drop Dead could -with a little effort- be called a post-punk song, and Stake is in the same region, only played in double speed. The speed drops in Trudge, although the naked instrumentation adds an atmosphere of danger. How would imagine an essentialy punk tune played with the harsher synth sound and then transform into an almost stoner/heavy guitar solo? If this somehow sounds confusing, listen to Restless Hunger/Trench to be more confused. The album closes with the Acid Mix, random (?) vocals, over drumming without rhytm or pattern and a loose keyboards improvisation.
Smoldering Lunchbox released in 1988 by Common Ailments of Maturity themselves, on their label Extremely High Quality Records (EHQ 12001) Only Larry Dersch is active until today - take a look at his page.