RECORD STORE TALES Part 282:
T-Rev, Mike, and the Neurotic Outsiders…
T-Rev called me from his store one afternoon in 1996.
“Mikey! Have you heard this Neurotic Outsiders CD? It fuckin’ rocks!”
I had not heard the Neurotic Outsiders CD.
It actually took T-Rev some talking to get me to buy it. (Playing it in-store was forbidden due to the foul language contained therein.) I knew Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum were in the band, with Steve Jones and John Taylor from Duran Duran. I was getting pretty bored with GN’R related solo albums, and while I found this combo intriguing, I was also inundated with other new releases at the same time. These included a new Rush studio album, a Rush tribute album, a new Scorpions, and a new King’s X. I had plenty of new music to keep me occupied!
He persisted, T-Rev did, and I caved and bought the CD. It only took one listen to know that he was right about the Neurotic Outsiders. They did indeed fucking rock. I was hooked immediately.
We played Neurotic Outsiders in the car a lot that summer. If I was driving, Trevor would be playing air drums along with Matt Sorum. Trev’s a drummer and he was damn good at doing Sorum’s style. You know that rolling drum intro to “You Could be Mine”? T-Rev had that one mastered, and there’s loads of that on Neurotic Outsiders. “Good News” is a great example. Trevor used to say my car had “good bass”, but he wasn’t talking about my stereo system. He was talking about the sound he could make when playing double bass on my floor with his feet. He could bruise his legs (snare drums) just from playing in the car.
I didn’t really drink back in those days so I was usually designated driver, which worked out really well. Driving home from a party, Neurotic Outsiders blasting, T-Rev playing slightly tipsy but always awesome air drums next to me. I didn’t have a CD player in that car either, which would have been my old Plymouth Sundance. Piece of shit car. The left driver’s side speaker was blown, making everything sound absolutely weak and lopsided. I recorded Neurotic Outsiders to cassette for car play. T-Rev’s modus operandi was the mix tape, whereas I chose to record entire albums. Either way, we heard “Good News” and “Angelina” a hell of a lot that year.
Fuck, that was a good summer.
NEUROTIC OUTSIDERS – Neurotic Outsiders (1996 Maverick)
This album kind of snuck in under the radar in ’96. Guns N’ Roses was disintegrating (Slash quit in October), but Matt & Duff teamed up with Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols and John Taylor of Duran Duran to form this supergroup of sorts. Lead vocals are handled by everyone except Matt Sorum, who provides plenty of his unique double bass/snare/crash cymbol pounding. In fact if any one member dominates in this album, I’d say it’s Matt Sorum! The other three guys all have their own songs, but Matt is the consistent common thread. Taylor tends to handle most of the slower material, Jonesy the heavy snarky stuff, and Duff sings a couple rockers too.
Very few stinkers on this album. Lots of winners. Lyrics with loads of attitude! “The good news is / You’re dying, the bad new is / I’m alive.” (“Good News”) Then, there’s “Jerk”:
“You’re a bitch, I’m a jerk,
I don’t think that we can work,
You’re a prat, I’m a prick,
I don’t think that we will stick,
I’m a cat, you’re a chick,
I think you deserve one more lick.”
There’s a Clash cover, a deliciously noisy “Janie Jones”, but even that great song is overshadowed by the Outsiders’ originals. Check out the opener “Nasty Ho,” one of Jonesy’s hilarious and thunderous punk songs. And if you have any doubts as to punk rock authenticity, I think Duff McKagan is well on record on a connoisseur of fine punk rock.
“Union”, a ballad, seems to be Jonesey lamenting that the Sex Pistols were never a real united band, slagging off everyone (himself included), except his “mate, old Cookie”. It’s a slow song but it has some bite to it. Two John Taylor songs are two of the heavier ones: “Always Wrong” and the smokin’ “Feelings Are Good”. Both these songs were also featured on Taylor’s solo album Feelings Are Good and Other Lies. (The title track was renamed “Feelings R Good”.) Best tune is “Angelina”, a fast punk rocker (today would they call this pop-punk?) with an insanely catchy chorus.
The only tunes that I could skip over are the really slow ones: “Better Way” and “Story Of My Life”. Yet even so, they have some charm. They’re not bad songs at all, just completely overshadowed by all the super-fun punk rock songs. Producer Jerry Harrison captured a raw performance, and I like that you can hear the ambiance of the room on “Story Of My Life”.
As you read in the above Record Store Tale, I was hooked immediately on Neurotic Outsiders, and that proved to be a lasting feeling. I wanted more, and at a visit to HMV Toronto (333 Yonge) I found the CD single for “Jerk”. It contained a “clean” version of “Jerk” (kind of pointless, but you have to at least try to get played on the radio, right?). Most interestingly was the B-side track “Seattle Head”. Duff was born in Seattle and had a connection with many of the artists that came from that city. (He was also one of the last people to speak to Kurt Cobain.) I can’t say that this song has that “Seattle sound”, it sounds like Duff McKagan to me. But it’s also obvious why it’s a B-side; because it’s the weakest of all the songs.
There was another single, a Japanese import for “Angelina”. This one had two more B-sides: “Spanish Ballroom” and “Planet Earth”. I would really, really, really like to have that. Amazon is asking $45. Hard to justify for two songs (although I have done things like that before).
It’s a shame Neurotic Outsiders never made a second album. But maybe not — maybe a second album would have tarnished my memories. As it stands, it is just a one-off and will likely remain so, but it is also an album I still listen to 18 years later.
5/5 stars, and one middle finger!