Lee Harvey Oswald Band

  • Lee Harvey Oswald Band
  • The Lee Harvey Oswald Band EP (Touch and Go) 1989 
  • A Taste of Prison (Touch and Go) 1994 
  • Blastronaut (Touch and Go) 1996 

A lovely name, a nubile-tied-off, nude and unconscious — on the cover, pix of cross-dressing slobs with guitars, liner notes in Japanese, a phony band history that claims two decades of existence and a fully functional slab of goodtimes garage-punk — yep, that sounds like A Taste of Prison, all right. Actually led by Rick Sims (Didjits, Supersuckers, Gaza Strippers), the band claims the membership of Bowie-accented singer/guitarist Zowie Fenderblast, bassist/singer Dredge and drummer Jimmy Meat. LHOB shoots for the wild-eyed manginess of freakazoids like the Butthole Surfers or Mummies, but evident playing ability, ’60s/’70s reference points and a seemingly wholesome core make the trio sound more like Urge Overkill practicing to be an MC5 cover band.

The introductory EP’s six songs (all included on the album’s CD) match the grungey musical effort with super-trashy recording quality; a supposed live-in-Germany item could have been taped through a backstage pay phone. More purposefully, “When the Satans Come Marching In” plays an ancient medical speech about LSD over a noisy instrumental psychout. The medium-fi album itself has a strong air of Spinal Tap put-on, although the covers (Little Eva’s “Loco-motion,” Wings’ “Junior’s Farm”) are convincingly performed, and originals like “Jesus Never Lived on Mars,” “Roadside Full of Tammy” (’70s crud-rock nostalgia) and the distorted “Van Gogh and the Chemical Haze” are big fun whatever the band’s stupid motives.

In mid-’96, the Oswalds took another shot with Blastronaut, a clearly produced and wittily original tribute to Ziggyfied glam. With Fenderblast confidently cruising in his shtickshift, the trio pounds it out in tuneful slabs of sizzling silliness, covering the Move’s “Brontosaurus” in heavyweight garbage, duffing up the Amboy Dukes’ “You Talk Sunshine…I Breathe Fire,” contributing such neat originals as “Easy Amplification” and beating Sigue Sigue Sputnik at its own game with “Rocket 69.” Cool deal.

[Ira Robbins]