As if ’80s sexed-up synth-pop fluke Berlin wasn’t enough cultural frottage for one batch of Californians to inflict, the group’s two main figures continued to record (separately) into the early ’90s. Bassist/singer John Crawford, with drummer Rob Brill, formed the Big F, a loud power trio that came out swinging (although cloaked in anonymity) with an album of overheated pre-grunge brutery. Other than Crawford’s guttural singing and pretentiously malevolent lyrics, The Big F is passably awful, a middle-of-the-gutter compromise between thuggish metal and sluggish thrash.
That smug effort fell before the onslaught of bands with more conviction and style, and it was four years until the trio put something else in the racks. The four-song EP and album (which also contains “Patience Peregrine”) generally peruse the same raging hard-rock vein, although co-producers Ed Stasium and Simon Hanhart help sculpt an intriguingly surly sound; The Big F Is goes afield enough to include a trumpet solo (on the instrumentally restrained “Lube”) and the nearly acoustic “Mother Mary.” Without adding anything original, the lengthy slabs of tumescent guitar raunch have muscle, skill and scraps of melody, making this uninspired utilitarian post-Zep/sub-Pearl Jam melodrama ideal for those who can’t get enough of the Cult, Stone Temple Pilots or Porno for Pyros. But the phony growl and nonsensical apocalypse imagery (“True faith, conquer the globe/Soul chain, sinners and saviors”) draw a big zero, as does the album’s ludicrous liner-note admonishment, “Get fucked to: each and every fascist.” That’ll fix their wagons.
For her futile second act, Berlin singer Terri Nunn, a Los Angeles native whose early career was as a TV actress, hooked up with onetime Prince associate David Z, who produced and drummed, and Underworld guitarist Karl Hyde, who played and co-wrote four numbers. This dull-as-dirt generic rock pancake fails to establish Nunn as anything but…the former singer of Berlin. On “89 Lines,” she makes her borrowed political statement: “When I flag down a cab it doesn’t stop/Not because I look dangerous or nothing like that/It’s not ’cause he’s off duty/It’s ’cause I’m black.” (Shades of Steve Martin…) In the more relevant “Desire Me,” Nunn runs down her trusty list-“Birth/Love/Pain/Sex/Desire” — as if it were the pinnacle of wit and insight. In the little world of Moment of Truth — which more than anything sounds like late-’80s Pat Benatar outtakes — it is.