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PAINTED WILLIE (Buy CDs by this artist)
Mind Bowling (SST) 1985
Live from Van Nuys EP (SST) 1986
Upsidedowntown (SST) 1987
Relics (SST) 1988

More noisy guitar excitement from SST: this non-punky Los Angeles trio shows a certain wit and lyrical perception on Mind Bowling. Although the music sounds like a sanitized junior version of Motörhead, songs about Chia Pets, sex without love and an obscure monkey species share an uncommon view of the world that elevates the tiresome vamps a bit. The inclusion of the classic "Little Red Book" only points up the band's lack of songwriting aptitude.

The energetic live mini-album features that song plus "Cover Girl" from Mind Bowling; there's the next-LP preview of "Upside Down Town" plus three other "tunes." These guys (especially guitarist Vic Makauskas) can play well enough, but their material lacks melody, focus and structure — once again, Burt Bacharach steals their thunder without even showing up!

Upsidedowntown has spiffy cover art and more taut riff-rock songs, this time on such less intriguing topics as "My Seed," "Personality and Style" (thirteen minutes of it!) and "Totem Pole." The playing keeps getting stronger, but the Willies should put out an APB for a songwriter.

Relics is a compilation of outtakes and leftovers, dating back to the band's prehistory.

[Ira Robbins]