July 06, 2019

Blood Circus - Primal Rock Therapy (Sub Pop Recordings: '88-'89) (1992)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Punk Rock, Grunge
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© 1992 Sub Pop
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett
Initially released as a five-song EP and then re-released as a career retrospective in 1992 following Nirvana's breakthrough and Sub Pop's subsequent cash infusion, Primal Rock Therapy says it all in the title. Sub Pop label co-owner Jonathan Poneman's belligerent liner notes make the case that for those who think they "have the grunge cred covered," this release is "the acid test." Well, yes and no. To be sure, it's as late-'80s Sub Pop as anything ever, almost to a self-parodic degree. The title is its own hilarity, there are Charles Peterson photos all over the place, Jack Endino did the production (and there's an in-retrospect nutty flyer reproduced advertising a Blood Circus/Nirvana double bill -- with Nirvana as the opener). As rough and ready, sludgy guitar rock with a bad attitude, Blood Circus does have the goods, with some fierce rave-ups here and there like "Road to Hell." "Six Feet Under," probably the quartet's best number, benefits from well-recorded drums, almost spat vocals about rotting away in the ground, and loud wailing feedback galore -- a bit like a poppier Melvins before the real deal got more accessible. At the same time, there's a reason Poneman admits that the original EP was one of Sub Pop's worst-selling releases -- it's not a bad release per se, but the band doesn't always live up to its strengths. Guitarist/vocalist Michael Anderson is the main reason why -- his playing and that of fellow guitarist Geoff Robinson do the job, but in terms of singing, Anderson's not always very convincing. There's just a little too much rock star/bar band bravado at points, as opposed to, say, Chris Cornell's very knowing sendup of the same. Doug Day's drums do make up for all that, though -- he could have gone somewhere had fortunes been different.

tags: blood circus, primal rock therapy, sub pop recordings 88 89, 1992, flac,