• KlÖver
  • Feel Lucky Punk (Mercury) 1995 

For rockers looking to bag a major-label record contract in the first months of Dookie-time (that’s 1994 by the regular calendar), a c.v. with a credible punk past was as good as gold. Active ‘core vets who had developed their pop sensibilities rather than drug habits, metal aspirations or tattoo collections stood a good chance of being swept through the Green (Day) door and getting to take a swing at ringing the chart bell with powerful tunes and historical grit.

Klöver has roots in the mighty tradition of Boston’s Bud-guzzling skatepunks, Gang Green, in the persons of guitarist Chris Doherty and drummer Brian Betzger. (Geography might explain the quartet’s choice of cover song on the reasonably good Feel Lucky Punk: the Real Kids’ sturdy “All Kindsa Girls.”) Mohawked singer/guitarist Mike Stone has a Mike Ness-like presence, offering the same kind of simpleminded populism and rebel anger that initially fueled Social Distortion’s rockets. In the Clashy “Our Way,” he identifies the target group: “We’re the radiation generation / When I was born I wish I’d known / Mom and dad got the meat…and we got the bone.” Likewise, “I Wanna Be” makes the standard demand for self-determination, but “YRU (Still Here)” redirects the animosity from parental/social to peer/personal. Served up as charged rhythm-guitar rock anthems, “Our Way,” “Beginning to End,” “Sandbag” and “I Wanna Be” let the punk-pop flag fly, unaffected by its long stay in storage. Jimmy Pursey would have been proud. As of early ’96, however, Klöver had folded and Gang Green was back in action. (Incidentally, another veteran of Gang Green — guitarist Chuck Stilphen — leads the band Scratch with his bass-playing brother Glen.)

[Ira Robbins]