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CRUCIFUCKS (Buy CDs by this artist)
The Crucifucks (Alternative Tentacles) 1985
Wisconsin (Alternative Tentacles) 1987
DOC CORBIN DART
Patricia (Alternative Tentacles) 1990

In pursuit of the ultimately offensive band name, these confrontational Michiganders (which once contained future Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley) were so successful that their first album incorporates actual spoken-word comments and run-ins with the law over it. Unfortunately, little else about the record is amusing: rudimentary slow-to-mid-speed punk with a truly obnoxious vocals by Doc Corbin Dart and obvious topical songs like "Hinckley Had a Vision," "Cops for Fertilizer" and "Go Bankrupt and Die." (Historical footnote: future Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley was behind the skins for this auspicious debut.)

Eulogizing the cheese state (where it was recorded) on their second LP, the Crucifucks unveil a surprising bit of wit and musical development. Dart still sounds like Pete Shelley's tuneless nerd cousin, but intelligent, politically correct lyrics ("Laws Against Laughing," "The Savior") and well-recorded electric and acoustic guitar raunch ("Concession Stand," "Pig in a Blanket") make Wisconsin commendable to, say, fans of the Dead Kennedys. Our Will Be Done is a CD pairing of the two albums.

Whatever the band might have achieved, Dart's solo album is an altogether darker and more disturbing affair. The simple rock and folk (by Dart and two other multi-instrumentalists) may sound lighter and more appealing, but the lyrics' self-analytic torrent of fear, bitterness and withdrawal turn the album into a harrowing real-life nightmare. Imagine a wobbly ex-Buzzcock singing his emotional problems on a psychiatrist's couch and you'll get a sense of this unsettling exploration into a damaged psyche. That Patricia is both articulate and — dare it be said — oddly entertaining is a testament to Dart's talent and honesty.

[Ira Robbins]