Tuesday, March 07, 2017


Royal Trux were one of the very few bands I'd keep tabs on in the late eighties/early-mid nineties and time seems to have validated my interest in them unlike say, the Amphetamine Reptile output which now has the value of currency with a picture of Jefferson Davis on it. (EDITOR'S NOTE---speak for yourself!)

Neil Haggerty was the driving force behind Royal Trux, and at times he would feel compelled to show he was too smart for rock 'n roll. which he is. and which is not necessarily a bad thing under the right circumstances, but at such times I would feel sorry for cohort Jennifer Herrema who seemed like the younger sibling who was told they could tag along but warned not to touch anything.

When Royal Trux split up, Herrema got to ditch any pretense that she just wanted to do anything but "rock out", though perhaps it was insecurity on her part that she named her band RTX which may have been done to insure her releases were filed near her previous band in an effort to ride the critical goodwill that band had collected. That, or insecurity.

Herrema's streamlined debut got a bit spandax metal for my tastes, but it helped to picture her singing into a hairbrush in her room as Whitesnake played on the radio years ago. After all, this is America and teenage delinquent dreams can come true even if I may quibble with the soundtrack to them.

The graphics on RTX releases showed Herrema in full rock goddess mode, including drawings of her done by young female acolytes (I'm assuming their age) that had the charm of secretive fan-crust fantasies transcribed in the back row of study hall. Or, more likely, detention.

In what was either a Supreme Court ruling that the name RTX infringed on the intellectual copyright of Royal Truc (hey, it could have happened, it not like I keep up on these things) or a sign that Herrema was finally ready to move out of the shadow of Haggerty complete, Jennifer started a band called Black Bananas.

Yeah, terrible name. Herrema must be in her forties by now, and as her career has moved on (if it still exists, Black Bananas not having released anything in some time that I'm aware of) she seems to have adopted more "teenage" trappings in her music and image. Rap stylings, hoodies, skateboards. Song titles that make lunkhead rock seem like something from creative writing class 101. Titles on ELECTRIC BRICK WALL include "Hey Rockin'" and "Give it to Me". (EDITOR'S NOTE AGAIN---I assume this is not the Troggs song!)  In short, she has adopted the mindset of someone she is old enough to be the mother of.

Then again, David Thomas still sings "Sonic Reducer" with the reconstituted Rocket From The Tombs, and old man wailing about not needing no mom or dad. It's not fair to single out Herrema because she is a woman, as the aging of women is always given closer scrutiny. (Hello Hollywood.)

So, what does this, the second Black Bananas album sound like?

Imagine if you tuned a radio halfway between a rap and a hard rock station, recorded the signal as it ping-ponged between satellites, and then had Lee Perry produce from a tape a few generations down the line.

It's a bastard concoction that no doubt wouldn't register with the indie rock crowd or the average youngster. I dunno, what do you make of a song titled "Powder8eeeeeeight" and how long did it take her to decide how many "e"'s to put in the title?

Like children after a divorce, listeners have to decide in their rock n' roll heart which member of Royal Trux they would want to live with. Haggerty may have the smarts, the chops, the pedigree. (And no one is going to point out in a review how old he is.) But if you want to huff some glue to a mongrel re lease that is dumb as a box of rocks while you scribble Black Bananas in marker above the urinal in the men's room, go team Herrema.

1 comment:

Bill S. said...

Always happy to see Brad here, and once again he totally nails it!