What the hell is going on here? This album is either the worst album ever because it does too many different things from very different musicians, or one of the best rock albums in recent memory for its ability to jump from genre to genre without ever sounding forced. The Last Hard Men are an eclectic rock “n” roll Frankenstein formed from formerly popular but currently dead bands. Sebastian Bach formerly of glam rock razor-bladers Skid Row plays guitar and splits lead vocal duties with former Breeder”s bassist and vocalist Kelley Deal. Deal also shares bass and guitar time with Jimmy Flemion formerly of The Frogs. Percussion parts were provided by Jimmy Chamberlin, who took time off his job of smashing pumpkins to help this mock super group knock down genres.
The CD contains interviews with all four band members. Each musician is asked to describe his/her favorite animal, favorite color and water in three words or less. Their answers depict their views on people”s perceptions of them their observations on the world, the way they look at others, how they view sexual intercourse and how they think about death. The vast difference in each member”s answer accounts for the album”s sonic schizophrenia.
The album rarely strays down back alleys toward Skid Row and spends much more time closer to Broadway where Bach now spends his time. The group covers Rogers and Hammerstein”s ode to all that is prim and proper with Deal singing “I flip when a fellow sends me flowers/I drool over dresses made of lace/I talk on the telephone for hours/with a pound and a half of cream on my face.” The inharmonious guitars barge in during different points of the song pissing all over the happy-go-lucky tune with glorious impertinence.
Possibly the best track on the album is “Who Made You Do It” a pouty ballad, somewhat similar to Motley Crue”s power ballad “Home Sweet Home” but without the overdriven guitars and Vince Neil”s spoiler of a voice. Bach”s romance tunes no longer sound like tales of panty droppers lost to coerce panty droppers present, but honest to God love songs. “The Most Powerful Man in the World” gives Bach a chance to max out his always flexing vocal chords.
The perky alterna-chick pop provided by Deal in “Candy Comes” and the too innocent not to be sexy title track “The Last Hard Man” are the cohesive glue that hold the disc together. Deal”s tunes bounce along perkily providing the right amount of sugar to Bach”s salt.
Such a bizarre CD would not work so well without a bit of humor. “Fan Mail” starts out with a distinctly British classical feel, but along with the crumpets there is sure to be a bit of cyanide in your tea when Bach is involved. Bach croons “Was it just fan mail/or are you in love?” but moves on to his real concerns, “Is there a law against falling in love/ not one for that/but stalking of that I”m sure there is one of.”
The diverse nature of the group and outlandish output is not lost on the band. “If You Want To Rock, Go To The Quarry” begins with Deal asking Chamberlain in her best high school drama production voice, “Hey Jimmy. How do you think we”re doing? Do you think it”s going alright? Do you think people are going to like it?” Chamberlain pauses and wryly says “Splendid.” The song turns into a duet hashed out over plunky piano, creating yet another tune well suited for musical theatre.
Only a few songs fall short of worthy. With the outer limits being tested throughout the CD, the band is bound to wander a bit too far on a few tracks. “Baby I”m King” rubs the ears the wrong way with sparse but nevertheless creepy backing music and the Courtney Love-like disonant wails of “Satan”s in the Manger” are almost bad enough to hit the off button.
It”s not what you”d expect, it”s better. This CD has no right to be this good and it is every bit as good as it should be bad. Most likely there will be no follow up album and no tour. The album was recorded four years ago, and in the time it took the album to come out the members have gotten wrapped up in other projects. It”s for the best that the “Men” don”t try and re-live the magic too many egos, too many stars leads to too many problems and sub-par albums. Sometimes lightning is more impressive when it only strikes once.