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Hot Box - "Lickety Split"


By Tom BakerPublished 5 months ago 4 min read
Family friendly front cover of "Lickety Spilt" by Hotbox

Once upon a time, in a galaxy as far away as the piss-puddled floors of the local all-ages gig-a-plex, there was a furious rebirth of the punk rock phenomena. That was about the good year 1996, and it was a time of incredible promise and pain: Promise that life might be every bit as intense and fun going forward as it was at that one youth-infused moment; pain because the fun usually involved someone jumping on your head, sometimes from the bleeding lip of the dirty, spit and cigarette butt littered stage, sometimes just to be doing it. And, well, if they were bigger than you--bammo!

The damndest stuff happened to me then. I almost got pissed on standing in line waiting for Merle Allin to write "This Shirt Sucks" over his late brother's image, which was pictured sprawled out near a wall I think, with a bottle of whiskey tipped up. His brother, G.G., was notorious for being a coprophile and "rock n' roll terrorist." He died of a cocaine and heroin speedball, hours after inciting a riot at his final show.

(The putative pisser was hustled out of the venue by security. If it hadn't been for my good friend A-Damn whisking me away to safety, I would have spent the rest of that show smelling bad.)

In those days, teen angst was tops, and punk was having all of it--and none of it. Some bands whined; others had a "hardcore", tough-as-nails attitude to their music. There was contempt for some by many or most (or at least a faction) of punks for bands considered "overproduced" or "pop punk" or (God help us) "sellouts". At least, I think I'm remembering all of this correctly. I've taken a pharmaceutical or two, and been drunk half-a-dozen times since then.

This attitude is stupid. Music is music. At the end of the day, it has the relative importance of various brands of breakfast cereals or potato chips--much as any other form of entertainment media. Music most especially though. It can, under the best circumstances, depending on the format, inspire and even (in some instances) educate; usually, in the case of mass-produced pop cultural fodder, the flavor-of-the-month appeal favored by big corporate record companies, it simply puts forward a fantasy of wealth and sex appeal before the listener, acting as a narcotizing influencer to get people to SHOP and young people to assume the correct attitude about love, life, their place in consumerist culture; their place on the food chain of consumption, whether proles, passive sheep, or otherkin. Madonna is/was the best example of this. Today, even faux sincerity has been replaced with mass-produced processes built to ensure the maximum profit from commercialized, digitized, and soulless fodder. Everything punk rock is or was against.

I've rambled LAMF. Please forgive me. I get entranced by my words, fucking narcissist that I am.

Hot Box Lickety Split is an exceptionally good album. Actually, fuck it, why beat around the bush? (no pun): it's fucking rock n' roll jammed out at supersonic speed, with consummate musicianship, and gravelly but great vocals provided by female singer Mel Chappell. It hearkens back to pop conventions of the past while riding the blitzkrieg missile of punky thrash through 13 short but ecstatic tracks full of sex and violence. The pics on the inside CD cover are fetish models with bananas, which I'm all for, as potassium is an important part of a healthy diet, and should be enjoyed as part of a comprehensive lifestyle centered on wellness.

Wake the Dead

Tracks such as "You Adore Me," are all about the sadomasochistic nature of love and desire, with the singer proclaiming, "Your weakness is my strength / you'd let me shit in your face / and still you love me so." I find the prospect of all of this to be rather exciting, but apparently, the narrator of the song (not, in reality, the singer, as most people associate it with, but a kind of quasi mixture of first and third-person) doesn't like this, and is blowing town. The band hails from San Francisco; they could be writing about a trailer park couple stranded in the wilds of Marion, Indiana, or any other damn place East of the Mississippi.

Sex is everywhere here. I nearly popped a bone air just opening the shrinkwrap on the CD package (actually, absent Viagra, that's less and less likely). Miss Chappell and company hold forth on sentiments both sexy and nasty (as in: ill-willed) toward someone named Betty, who I reckon is "bent on her knees" in a bathroom stall, shooting heroin or giving head because mommy "dropped Betty on her head." I'm not sure if I'm supposed to feel sympathy for Betty, or contempt, but the song kills it with the hook.

Mel's voice has just the right combination of melody and snot, gravel, and grit to pull off the intensity of what is being conveyed. The music is full-on with fuzzy guitar tones backed by breakneck drum beats, alternating the thrash with a more mid-tempo. Mel sounds a little like Joan Jett; the band sounds like Dee Dee and Johnny jamming with the Lunachicks. You can't go wrong here.

This album was partly produced, I take it, by Fat Mike from NOFX, who, in recent videos I've seen, is sporting a mohawk and miniskirt ensemble combination that makes him look vaguely like Roman Centurion. (You know, crucifying Christ wearing those solid steel minis and a helmet with a plume.) This album isn't Fat Wreck Chords brand melodic hardcore Bad Religion style sing-a-long: you'd be hard-pressed to keep up with La Chapelle and company as they belt out a blitzkrieg of scathing rebuke to the audio connoisseur.

I'd quote more lyrics and stuff, but I'd be opening myself up to a lawsuit (maybe by Fat Mike the Centurion?), and I can't afford that shit, G. Hell, I'm from Marion, Indiana.

Let Me Be

90s musicvintagesong reviewsrockpunkindiealternative

About the Creator

Tom Baker

Author of Haunted Indianapolis, Indiana Ghost Folklore, Midwest Maniacs, Midwest UFOs and Beyond, Scary Urban Legends, 50 Famous Fables and Folk Tales, and Notorious Crimes of the Upper Midwest.:

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