Go to Homepage   Hedwig and the Angry Inch: Glamming on Lost Love

 

Crescent Blues Music ViewsFour moonsWea/London/Sire (CD-ROM), ASIN B00005LNJ4
Hedwig and the Angry Inch's self-titled soundtrack album to the movie of the same name combines elements of Almost Famous, Spinal Tap and my own wish fulfillment. I wish this band was real. As glam-rock, Hedwig stomps as hard as T-Rex and waxes as lyrically pretentious as Yes -- qualities I like as long as Yes doesn't try stomping and T-Rex stays away from high-flown lyrics.

Music CD: Hedwig and the angry itchListen to this as sort of the glam equivalent to Oh Brother. The freshness of Hedwig, however, doesn't rely on unaustere production and the performance of past originals. Instead, it relies on careful study of classics re-combined to make fresh, though reminiscent, originals. "Tear Me Down" recalls very blatantly the Sex Pistols "Holiday In The Sun." Both songs pulverize with a unilateral guitar mission: to crush the melody into your head. Both sets of lyrics concern the Berlin Wall at various phases. While the Pistols' lyrics centered around the social and political aspects of the wall. Hedwig's (i.e. songwriter Stephen Trask's) lyrics focus on botched sex change as metaphor for separation of mind from body.

Did I mention both the Sex Pistols and Hedwig deliver can-kicking rock-n-roll?

Angry Inch describes in minute detail the results of that botched change. "My first day as a woman and it's already that time of the month" Hedwig laments on a song that offers the same pile-driving beat as the Sex Pistol's "Problem."

Elsewhere the band -- whoops, I meant the soundtrack echoes and builds on both the progenitors and the epitomizers of glam. The soothing soul background on both versions of "Wicked Little Town" would fit right in next to any track on the Velvet Undergrounds sweetly underestimated Loaded.

Other tracks reflect the influence of the extravagant musicals of the 1970s. Hedwig, a lovelorn and alone character, often sounds like the Jesus of all of those '70s rock musicals combined with a Jim Morrison-esque theatricality. From prog to punk and glam -- the soundtrack reflects the bastard children of '60s psychedelia and garage rock.

None of the musical connections between prog and punk would make any musical sense if the guitarist could not shred, crush, smash and fret with intense ease. Ex-Husker Du frontman Bob Mould functions as Hedwig's secret weapon. His guitar soars and razors throughout "Midnight Radio," a song with a soaring arena quality seemingly earmarked for embarrassing REO territory, but which the guitar melody treats as a call to arms. Not surprising, really. Glam ala T-Rex rock epitomized glitter, flash pot explosions and cock-rock braggadocio. Hedwig and the Angry Inch provides a superb intro to glam as well as a soundtrack to a surprisingly heartwarming film concerning the connections between music and lost love.

Michael Pacholski

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