BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB – ” Black Rebel Motorcycle Club ” (Box Set) 20th Anniversary

Posted: October 14, 2021 in MUSIC

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of our first release, B.R.M.C. We wanted to celebrate this milestone with you, so we’ve put together a special 20th Anniversary Vinyl Box Set that includes a double gatefold of the original album with bonus songs plus a 3rd Vinyl disc of songs from that period that we’ve never released before, all newly mixed & mastered. We’re also including a special hard-bound book of photos taken by Ken Schles, who did the cover image for the album. This is available for immediate pre-order at the link above. This 20th Anniversary Deluxe Box will be very limited. If you’re feeling nostalgic and like us, grown out, worn out, thrown out or straight lost it. We’ve done our best to make some of the original B.R.M.C. t-shirts, to swat the moths messing with your other favourite bands shirts.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, formed in San Francisco in 1998, were originally called The Elements. After discovering that another band had the same name, the members changed the name to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, after Marlon Brando’s motorcycle club in the 1953 film The Wild One. Bass player and vocalist Robert Been’s father, Michael Been, had formed The Call in Santa Cruz in 1980. Michael Been died on August 19th, 2010, after suffering a heart attack backstage at the Pukkelpop music festival in Hasselt, Belgium, where he was working as sound engineer for his son’s band BRMC. To honour his father, Robert sang a song recorded by The Call, “Let The Day Begin”. A back story of The Call’s version, released in 1989, climbed the charts, but, because MCA elected to switch pressing plants, there were no singles in stores. According to Michael Been: “There wasn’t any foul play, though. It was just that MCA was switching over pressing plants, and they hadn’t printed up enough copies of the single — only 100,000, I think. And the record went to number one, and all of a sudden, there weren’t any in the stores — they’d all been sold. It took five weeks for the company to be able to get back to the point where they could start printing copies again, and in those five weeks, well — you live or die in this business.”…..

2001’s inimitable B.R.M.C. is most definitely a nasty bag of tricks, generous in its quantities of punky defiance, gritty alt and garage rock hybrid sensibilities, and just enough style and sheen to tip the indie scales in their favour—but what more could be expected of a disheveled trio of leather jacketed twentysomethings,

Founded by high school friends Peter Hayes and Robert Levon Been in 1998, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club set out to accomplish what so few bands are able to do—create a sound indebted to those of the past while remaining relevant in the present. Both students of prominent Northern Californian musicians, Hayes cut his teeth as a member of infamous San Francisco neo-psychedelic outfit The Brian Jonestown Massacre during the group’s Give It Back! era and Been made his bones playing bass for his father, the late Michael Been, formerly of Santa Cruz-based alt rock group The Call, as a teenager in the mid-’90s. While their combined formative experience was not necessarily predictive of what was to come, it was fertile ground in the development of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s soulful, swaying guitar-oriented indie rock sound, a stream laced with various influences of half a century’s worth of popular music.

Despite the eclectic nature of their sound, B.R.M.C.’s music owes a great deal to their geographic origins. Very Californian, the grit and the grime coupled with the bliss and boundless space all visited by the spirits of the greats who came and went before B.R.M.C.’s opportunity revealed itself can be fathomed on every track of their debut album. What emerged from those early days as a group was a solid rock sound, educated yet unpretentious, inspired yet rarely derivative, something entirely unique to the group.

Released on April 3rd, 2001, the eponymous B.R.M.C. kicked the door down, bringing to the table the elements of experimental neo-psychedelia and homegrown indie experimentalism Hayes had gleaned during his time with The Brian Jonestown Massacre, while eschewing Anton Newcombe’s predisposition for hippiesh lo-fi madness for a rougher, more aggressive snarl of punk rock rebellion which, in the end, makes a final stand for classic, uncut rock and roll.

Opener “Love Burns” comes on strong, with Hayes introducing his upcoming band with the line, “Never thought I’d see her go away/She learned I loved her today.” The sting of the group’s guitars drills deeply into the listener’s skull, planting a fuzzed-out wall of sound behind Hayes’ smooth yet spacey vocals. The repetitious “Red Eyes and Tears” shows strong influences of The Velvet Underground and The Jesus and Mary Chain, offering a tighter, darker feel, more at home on an early Cure album than on anything released in the early ’00s, while turbulent favourite “Whatever Happened to My Rock and Roll (Punk Song)” rocks the hardest of the album’s 11 tracks, and the subsequent “Awake” touches upon the heavy psychedelia which became a staple of the group’s sound.

The Abrahamic imagery and pleas for salvation in “White Palms” would eventually become a motif in Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s lyrics, although the question of faith begged by Hayes is belied by his recognition that, if he were Jesus, he wouldn’t return, confessing, “I’m the kind of guy who leaves the scene of the crime.” Standout “As Sure as the Sun” and the Radiohead-esque “Take My Time/Rifles” cast additional shadows across B.R.M.C.’s stage, the latter serving as one of the most realized, intricately crafted compositions of the group’s career. The funerary fuzz of “Too Real” may be understood as a blueprint for the divergent sounds of groups advertently or inadvertently indebted to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, such as their younger, lesser known Canadian cousins The Pink Mountaintops. The penultimate “Head Up High” and closing “Salvation” chart the course of an innovative band, rounding the album out and declaring a challenge to the innovations of popular contemporaries.

Indeed, the sound found on B.R.M.C. has been instrumental in the development of strains of retro-inspired millennial indie rock, developed 20 years later. More so, Hayes and Been find themselves at the forefront of an ever more revolutionary movement, as purveyors of the kind of pure, undiluted rock and roll music developed by their own idols, as well as by their idols’ idols. Everything done by Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones, by The Velvet Underground, The Clash, and The Stooges is alive and well on all subsequent Black Rebel Motorcycle Club releases. The group, along with a handful of like-minded fellow rockers, continue to maintain the honesty of the genre, even while their bite has mellowed with age. This observation is by no means disparaging, as even their most recent release, 2018’s Wrong Creatures, stands as one the finest rock releases of the 2010s.

Two decades on, B.R.M.C. remains a key deity in the pantheon of modern indie rock, having borrowed its influences from well-established, worthy acts of yore and used them as way markers in forging their own authentic voice. Even in 2021, “Love Burns” and “Whatever Happened to My Rock and Roll (Punk Song)” retain their teeth, which they bare at the softening throat of their beloved genre, celebrating the grit and shadow of a bygone era in rock.

Deluxe direct-to-consumer box set combines the newly expanded and released self-titled debut album (now a double LP in a gatefold sleeve), with the “Screaming Gun” album of demos and alt mixes from the same era, and a unique full colour photo book compiled from photos from the same era.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.