Purchased for $7.99 at Vertigo Records in Ottawa.
Brant Bjork is one prolific mo-fo. Whether it’s solo or with bands such as the Bros, the Operators, or Ché, Bjork always maintains a high level of quality. Punk Rock Guilt is undoubtedly a solo album. All music was written and performed entirely by Bjork. He’s a talented multi-instrumentalist with a wide variety of influences from all over the music spectrum. When they collide in the grooves of the wax, it’s audio ecstasy.
What’s surprising is that an album called Punk Rock Guilt is loaded with both short songs and long bombers. Maybe that’s the guilt part? Sitar commences the album on an Indian note with “Lion One”, the first of the lengthy tracks. At over 10 minutes, the challenge is to keep things interesting, and Bjork does. When the song settles into a slow bass-heavy groove, I’m immediately reminded of his first excellent solo album Jalamanta. The vocals don’t even kick in until the 3:00 mark, and then with a semi-spoken Lou Reed direction. As a long song of this nature should, it picks up speed come solo time. “Lion One” is outstanding rock as it rises and falls in waves.
The next is the shortest song, “Dr. Special”, and already much rock ground has been covered. “Dr. Special” has a funky 70’s porn soundtrack vibe but heavy and sparse. (This sounds like it’s a lot of fun to play.) Over to “Punk Rock Guilt”, which is surprisingly classic rock. The melodic riffs and catchy vocals give it something in common with Boston, but without leaving the Bjork sound behind.
“This Place (Just Ain’t Our Place)” returns to the Bjork groove, laid back, heavy and probably stoned. There is no lyric sheet included but I’m pretty sure Bjork has returned to one of my favourite lyrical subjects: UFOs! The guitar solo has a spacey sound. On vinyl (a double record set for its total 46 minute length), this closes LP 1. The second record commences with a riff and “Shocked by the Static”. Even though the copy here is a CD, you can hear this is a natural spot for a side break. Lacking any major hooks, the way to enjoy “Shocked by the Static” is to focus on the groove and just air drum along.
The surprise of the album is “Born to Rock”, starting light and airy like some U2 outtake. Clean guitars and Lynott-like vocals do the trick: this is a killer. Contrasting this is “Plant Your Seed” which has Sabbathy guitar tones and a singular groove. Finally it’s another 10 minute tune, “Locked and Loaded”, to finish the album. “It’s a hijack groove, electric boogaloo, and bloodshot eyes are watching you.” Not sure what that means, but the groove is ZZ Top’s from “I Thank You”. Cool vibe on which to end a cool album.