The Stick Men: Insatiable

The StickMen The Stick Men were one of Philadelphia's most popular bands during the early eighties and were led by guitarist/painter/sculptor Peter L. Baker and keyboardist B.A.L. Stack. The band went through several permutations beginning in 1977, before settling into the ensemble featured on the INSATIABLE CD, which includes remixed and remastered versions of the Stickmen's two lp's "This is the Master Brew" (1981) and "Get On Board" (1983). The bands aesthetic revolved around Pete Baker's fiercely creative musical and lyrical vision, a solid funk rhythm section, and quirky Philadelphia humor. In addition, there are live and unreleased studio tracks; and the disc contains 22 minutes of Quick Time video footage of live concerts from the period of 1981 - 1983. Scott Herzog and former Stick Men drummer Jim Meneses produced the cd reissue.

The CD is distributed by TOWER RECORDS

1. Legend Of The Stick Men
2. Master Brew
3. Joy Toy
4. Mystery Party
5. Bone Shadow
6. Action Man
7. Level Head
8. Set Back
9. Caged Sex
10. Tail Dragger
11. Ha Ha Hell (Live)
12. Paralyzer
13. Jampire
14. Funky Hayride
15. Crash My Dome
16. Double Checker
17. Hearts In Tempo (Live)
18. Duraflame Dog
19. Personality Pollination
20. Do Get Down
21. Discophonic Walk (live)
22. Insatiable

TOWER RECORDS presents all tracks as RealAudio files!

Tower Records wrote:
CD Cover For those who think the no-wave/punk-funk sound of the late-1970s/early-1980s was exclusive to New York City, INSATIABLE serves as a reminder that Philadelphia had a slice of the pie as well. The Philly-based Stickmen were a hyper-kinetic avant-funk outfit very much in the mode of James Chance & the Contortions. They combined the twitchy, angular feel and neurotic gestalt of the burgeoning new wave scene with the party atmosphere and funky rhythms of James Brown and Sly Stone.

This disc compiles everything the quintet ever released, and gives fans of Chance and the New York scene a sharp history lesson. The Stickmen were perhaps even more intense, skewed, and polyrhythmic than their East Coast brethren. Peter Baker's crazed vocals bounce manically off B. A. L. Stack's gloriously cheap organ, Chuck Mattern's queasy trumpet, and the amphetamine attack of the rhythm section. The overall effect is that of a funky jack-in-the-box whose lid refuses to open. Decades later, it's still exciting to hear the repercussions.

The StickMenCD NOW presented the CD as follows:

New Wave is almost a dirty word in 2001, but this reissue of early '80s recordings by Philadelphia based The Stick Men is enough to give some much needed credence to those odd, skinny-tie times. This CD collects their two rare albums, some live tracks, and a 22-minute QuickTime movie of the live band, back in the day. Of course, the Stick Men aren't a strictly new wave band; it is actually sort of wrong to classify them as such, but for the time period, some of their sounds -- and definitely their look -- lumped them into that camp.

A far better camp for The Stick Men would have been the No Wave sounds coming out of New York City around this same time. If there is one band that the Stick Men actually sound like, it is James Chance and Contortions. Both bands used a hard-edged funk sound to offset searing guitars and sax, as well as keyboards and other early "electronics." The semi-new wave moves that the Stick Men employ, such as the singer-guitarist Peter Baker's Jello Biafra -on-(more)-speed vocals and the B-52s-ish keyboard runs are almost totally overshadowed by the things they were doing that no once else was at the time.

The sometimes-silly lyrics are delivered in a staccato sneer, while the bass and drum interplay is just amazing. The rhythm section of bassist Bill Bradfield and drummer Jim Meneses are truly the stars of this show in my eyes. From the first listen, I was in shock that these songs were recorded in 1981-1983; it sounds unbelievably current. The interaction and even recording of the drum and bass is truly timeless, and the players are certainly up to the mission of propelling the rest of the band in a frantic herky-jerky direction, with the rest of the members trying to keep hold before they get thrown off the mechanical bull mayhem of the rhythm section.

In all of this cold funky sound, B.A.L. Stack and Chuck Mattern play organ, trumpet, clavinet, and more, filling the sound with truly bizarre moments and off kilter squeals and bursts. When the grooves truly reach maximum damage, it sounds like the Ruins destroying the B-52's songbook. Throw in some Eat Yrself Fitter-era Fall vocals and lyrics (but more American humor and Philadelphia brand nihilism) and you have a record that could have been recorded in 1993, 1983, or 2003. The amazing amount of guitar noise on this firmly puts the Stick Men in with their No Wave contemporaries, but the sheer tightness and quality of their songs and performance put them head and shoulders above almost anyone working this territory back then. For that matter, this record would not sound at all out of place next to your Shellac, Don Caballero, and Melt Banana albums, as well as your Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Residents, and DNA records.

The 22-minute QuickTime live stuff dates from three different shows and the camera work is as herky-jerky as the band (just try to keep an eye on the singer-guitarist). It's a bit hard to follow, but still amazing for anyone, like myself, who wasn't there, and must be unreal to those who were.

Andy Perseponko
Andy Perseponko is a syndication coordinator for CDNOW's Media Department.

The Stickmen:
Peter L. Baker (vocals, guitar)
B.A.L. Stack (ace tone organ, clavinet, vocals, trumpet,)
Chuck Mattern (vocals, saxophone, trumpet, electronics)
Bill Bradfield (bass)
Jim Meneses (drums, percussion)

The Stickmen: Insatiable
Release date: 01/16/2001
Original release date: 1981-1983
Label: Cuneiform Records
Engineer: Scott Herzog
Studio: Third Story Recording
Reissue producers: Scott Herzog, Jim Meneses
Genre: Rock/Pop

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