Saturday, June 25, 2011

Still Spinning: Infectious Grooves, "The Plague That Makes Your Booty Move"

Converting a huge CD collection to digital as I’ve been doing slowly for the past couple of weeks can be tedious, but it also has its rewards: Namely, stumbling across very cool records that you haven’t spent any quality time with in years.

I’ve rediscovered several in the process, the most recent being Infectious Grooves’ 1991 debut The Plague That Makes Your Booty Move.

Founded by Suicidal Tendencies vocalist Mike Muir and bassist Robert Trujillo (now in Metallica), Infectious Grooves also featured guitarists Dean Pleasants (George Clinton, Ugly Kid Joe, Jessica Simpson) and Adam Siegel, as well as former Jane’s Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins.

After moving Suicidal Tendencies from hardcore punk in the early 1980s to thrash metal in the latter part of the decade, Muir decided to try his hand at funk rock and let his goofy sense of humor come out more than it had in his main band. The gimmick was that it was a band of reptiles, and the record featured several comedic interludes by legendary-lover-in-his-own-mind Aladdin Sarsippius Sulemanagic Jackson the Third (I’ll let you use your imagination on the pronunciation of Third).

Lyrically, there are also some goofy moments, with song titles like “Stop Funk’n With My Head,” “Monster Skank” and “You Lie … and Yo Breath Stank,” and there’s also a track called “Mandatory Love Song” that’s simply 10 seconds of laughter. But musically, the record is no joke. The songs range from metallic numbers like “I’m Gonna Be My King,” which would have been right at home on a Suicidal Tendencies record of the era, to “Back to the People,” a full-on funk number with African-style percussion and no metal elements whatsoever. The only track likely to be recognized by mainstream fans is the single “Therapy,” probably chosen due to the Ozzy Osbourne vocal on the chorus, but it’s one of the most straightforward rock songs here. The band is at its best when the metal and funk blend, as on “Infecto Groovalistic,” which features one of the most memorable melodies on the record, or the bouncing rock of “Infectious Grooves.”

It’s Muir’s band, but Trujillo is the real star of the show, slapping and popping his bass with wild abandon. Pleasants’ 1970s “Shaft”-style wah-wah guitar is pretty tasty, too, and brings a nice contrast to the heavier moments. The band has continued in various forms over the years, putting out three more pretty good records, but none that come close to this one.

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