New York City bands in the early 80's were overshadowed on the club scene by the visiting overseas and out of town next big things. But there was still life in the local scene. Following in the footsteps of the Contortions, Raybeats, and Bush Tetras, Certain General took the skronky/jazzy rhythms of the first, the art/surf pyschedelia of the second and the skanky semifunk of the latter to create a pop/postpunk hybrid that spoke as much of the garage as it did of the tenement atmosphere of NYC's lower east side.
The album moves from sultry surf/slowdance groove of "Service" to frenetic jackhammer pychedelic dancefloor grooves of "Jack In the Heart" to the wide open vistas of Americana in "Sympathy" and "Maximum G" to pure crazed pounding of "Voodoo Taxi" while all the time carrying a consistent group identity and continuity that belies the potporri of stylistic innovations. Throughout it all lead singer Parker Dulany's poetic vision - think of the Jim Morrison/Patti Smith lineage dances in time with drummer extradonaire Marcy Saddy's funky, yet conversational rhythym patterns. Lead guitarist Phil Gammage unleashes torrents of scattershot, feedback laced riffs, whilst alternating with a Link Ray meets Dick Dale surfadelic party. Certain General were contemporaneous with the Raybeats, Fleshtones, Bush Tetras, Swans and Sonic Youth, playing gigs with all of them plus sharing stages with the Cure, Gang of Four, New Order, REM, and Mission of Burma, to name but just a few.
Orginally recorded in 1983, this 1999 reissue is the first time November's Heat is available as an American Release. It is an indispensible document of a time and place that didn't get it's due at the time, but still sounds fresh and vital today.
By Stephen J. Graziano