City Paper is not for tourists
Wham, bam, thank you glamthe only music from Merrie Olde England I ever gave a flying fuck about. Sure, the Stones and the Who had their moments, and for about five minutes there it looked as if punk might amount to something. But glamwell, face it, glam was something special, a limp-wristed slap in the face of everything decent from a bona fide boa-wearing, platform-booted, glitter-encrusted deviant. Glam was the first rock to cause parents to lock up not their daughters but their sonsand though both T. Rex and Bowie’s flaming orange mullet may be dead, glam will live as long as there are boys who want to dress up like girls (and vice versa). Suede, and to a lesser extent Pulp and Supergrass, continue to export the stuff from the British Isles, while here in America, Cleveland’s Cobra Verde has been putting out records that would make Marc Bolan proud. Combining Sweet hooks and bone-crushing tyrannosaurus-sex guitar, Cobra Verde is a proponent of the muscular glam preached by Mick Ronson, whose credo went something like: “Sure I wear eyeliner, but I’ll still crush your eardrums.” Featuring John Petkovicwhose vocals lean more toward the New York Dolls’ than the Spiders From Mars’along with members of the extended Guided by Voices family, Cobra Verde lets you know from the first track of its new Easy Listening that it’s doing business in the “Riot Industry.” “Was it the tear gas/Was it the perfume/That killed my senses/When you crashed into the room?” sings Petkovic, inviting you to “Take what you want/And that includes me” while the guitarist makes like a jackhammer in jackboots and an ersatz crowd cheers in the background. “‘Til Sunrise” is a kinked-up “Stay With Me,” complete with cigarette burns and a game of hitchhiker; “Modified Frankenstein” is a strutting, stuttering celebration of electrical transmogrification in the glad-glam tradition of Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein” and the New York Dolls’ identically titled tune. Unlike punk, glam never pretended it didn’t have feelings, and on “Throw It Away,” Petkovic pours out his heart to a woman who wonders, “What else is there to do but drink?” “Do you think we’re whores in the making?” he asks, hopefully, on “Whores,” and then “The Speed of Dreams”one of several cuts featuring guitar and/or keyboards by Marcus Esposito of D.C.’s own Signs Point to Yesgoes all Roxy Music on your ass, with the band throwing off sparks of sheer fabulousness while Petkovic croons, “Just you and me/Whisky makes three.” And just when you think you’re going to suffocate in the rarefied, Huysmann-like atmosphere of artificiality that is Easy Listening, Cobra Verde throws the Zep-folkish “Don’t Worry (The Law’s Gonna Break You)” at youa breath of air so fresh it’ll make you want to cry. Michael Little
Cobra Verde performs at 9 p.m. on Thursday, May 29, at Iota, 2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. For more information, call (703) 522-8340.