Record Swap: CT-12 vs. Janitor Jim Duggan
Today in Record Swap, we’re pitting the mad tortilla CrazyTaco-12 against Eddie Trunk’s beloved floor-sweeping offspring Janitor Jim Duggan. Things get about as weird as you’d expect. Who will prosper? The rules for Record Swap are simple: no research, no foreknowledge, no mercy. – W.
CT-12’s assignment: Three Dog Night – Hard Labor (1974)
“I believe that CT-12 and many of you don’t love Three Dog Night enough. They’re one of my favorite pop groups and I have a lot of their albums. I picked this album so that you could all discover the greatness of Three Dog Night. Just be happy I didn’t make him review Bad For Good by Jim Steinman.” – JJD
“What the fuck?!”
This exclamation was soon followed by a rush of mad laughter when I first laid eyes on this album’s cover (and after looking at the dumbass cover art I chose for JJD, I began to wonder if we had missed the entire point of this record swap altogether). As the tears and giggles settled, I clicked play on the first track, “Prelude”, and a near exact replication of my prior performance burst out of me. This track sounds like what I could only expect to hear on a haunted carnival ride nestled in a PCP stronghold. Thankfully, when I agreed to do this Record Swap, I was in it for the long haul, because my initial reception of this album would have easily halted me from exploring it any further. However, I pressed forward for the readership of the toilet, and in the process managed to be pleasantly surprised by the substance contained within Hard Labor’s circus act.
I’m going to start out brutally honest here: I did not like this album when I first listened to it. While I’m not sure if this had anything to do with me lifting weights at the time (Hatebreed or GTFO wimp!), I knew I could pinpoint some legitimate musical fouls that weren’t solely influenced by my meat-headed state: insanely repetitive choruses/lyrics (the song “Sure As I’m Sittin’ Here” repeats its title literally 26 times throughout the song), safe and inoffensive musicality, riff/rinse/repeat formula, and a generally shallow lyrical depth. Generally speaking, these ingredients are usually found in music I don’t care too much for. But after I cooled down a bit, I realized that maybe I was being too harsh in my judgment – and that maybe working out isn’t the right activity to accompany a Three Dog Night album. With this knowledge in hand, I sat down and gave this album some uninterrupted, focused listens, and in the process I began to see the treasures it had to offer.
While I bitched about “Sure As I’m Sittin’ Here” being repetitive, itself and other songs such as, “Play Something Sweet (Brickyard Blues)” and “Put Out the Light” accomplish their end goal of being quite catchy and tranquil numbers. And while a catchy tune doesn’t necessarily constitute a great one, T.D.N. managed to sincerely impress me with their utilization of nuance and subdued musicianship, which is especially highlighted in the drummer’s performance throughout the album. Hard Labor also shows off T.D.N.’s musical fluency by incorporating light traces of pop, soul, and funk music into their sound, which gives them a fairly unique distinction from other bands of their ilk. And while most of these tracks come off as a little lyrically careless, others such as “I’d Be So Happy” and “Anytime Babe” exude a fragility and inner turmoil that made me reconsider just how oblivious to distress I assumed T.D.N. to be.
In conclusion, when you get over the initial shock of the album cover and the first-listen pet peeves, there’s honestly not a lot to complain about on Hard Labor. Sure, it’s not heavy. Sure, the interludes are pointless. Sure, the songs are fairly formulaic. And sure, it’s not revolutionary or all that cerebral; but for what Three Dog Night were trying to do on this album, they did it extremely well. Overall, I would consider this to be a solid B album that is great accompaniment for just kicking back and relaxing. If I saw it for a fair price at a record store, I’d be more than happy to add it to my collection.
Thanks go to Janitor Jim for helping broaden my horizons and forcing me to listen to something I wouldn’t have otherwise. This was truly an enlightening and enjoyable experience. – CT-12
JJD’s assignment: Iron Angel – Winds of War (1986)
“To me, this Record Swap series’ sole intention should be to broaden the musical taste of each listener. That being said, I compiled a list of albums for JJD to choose from that I believed would work within the parameters of what he already liked, but proposed enough challenges along the way to expand his horizons. Winds of War was his eventual pick; a heavy/speed metal album that can get any party started, but utilizes enough grit and tempo dynamics to hopefully be a useful step in JJD’s continuous musical journey.” – CT-12
Iron Angel’s album Winds Of War is a very good album. Most of it is done just right with very few things being too overblown. The vocals are good and remind me of Saxon and other traditional metal bands. I love the guitar work, and the drummer is good as well. The only real problems are that I can’t even tell if there is a bassist because it’s so buried underneath everything else. The lyrics are also cheesy yet not too cheesy to be insufferable. The songs “Metalstorm” and “Sea Of Flames” are favorites of mine as is “Vicious”. The only tracks I consider expendable are the intro and the outro because they’re too overblown for their own good. Another thing I like about this album is it doesn’t rely on a gimmick or have any terrible album covers. Too many bands like this have gimmicks that don’t really work or have artwork that turns me off because it looks too cheesy. I don’t usually listen to this kind of metal outside of Manilla Road and Riot but this makes me want to check out more things like it. – JJD
4/5 Flaming Toilets
I was going to declare CT-12 the winner here for actually submitting metal, but then I saw his headline image. Instead, you, dear reader, are the winner for making it through this. Here’s a picture of a pug for your reward. – W.