the good the bad the ugly

A punk guitar album? Well, in its purest form that is what The Good * The Bad * The Ugly is and why it is such an outstanding disc.

Each track here is constructed around Vincent’s expert ability to craft old-school punk hooks – the ones that made his original band the Testors such a well known name amongst serious punks – and a solid back-up band of The Stooges’ Scott Asheton on drums and The Damned’s Captain Sensible on Bass. Originally, the concept was to keep it to the trio of Vincent, Asheton, and Sensible. But after the basic tracks had been recorded, Vincent decided to bring on board some of punks most notable guitarists from past and present to give the songs an extra kick in the arse. When it works, it sounds incredible such as on “That Sound” which features Captain Sensible, Dexter Holland of The Offspring, and Tony Fate of the Bellrays. Even “Skag,” which comes across more as a straight up rock tune, works nicely with Wayne Kramer of the MC5 laying down a signature solo.

This album is fantastic for two reasons. The first is that the combination of Vincent, Asheton, and Sensible creates a supercharged band that is really delivering a punch. The second is that each of the guest guitarists really put their all into the solos (knowing they only have a few bars to really cut loose). “Busted” is down and dirty Detroit garage punk with Robert Quine (from Richard Hell and the Voidoids) tearing the listener’s head off with his soloing. “Crazy Ride” featuring the Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs’ Frank Meyer is a blistering, hi-speed track befitting of its title. What’s most incredible is that guitarists with such divergent styles – Greg Ginn of Black Flag or Walter Lure of The Heartbreakers – all seem to fit nicely into Vincent’s compositions. Ginn’s more off-the-wall soloing style on “Yesterday’s News” works perfectly on a track that you would never picture Ginn actually playing on. Probably the coolest (and most swinging) track on the album is “Down the Drain” featuring Television’s Richard Loyd.

Even without the guest guitar slinging, this would have been one hell of an album from a pure songwriting standpoint. The addition of such fine guitarists only adds to the impressive sound and produces some really incredible, hi-energy songs you can sink your teeth into.

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