Life, Sex & Death

  • Life, Sex & Death
  • The Silent Majority (Reprise) 1992 

Few manufactured hypes have ever backfired on a scale as massive as the one that blew up in the face of this Chicago- to-Los-Angeles circus-metal act and the label that shelled out what was mooted to be a record-setting advance in order to sign it. Exploitive on levels even Malcolm McLaren would never have dreamed of, Life, Sex & Death was a sub- Jane’s Addiction ensemble with a very dubious gimmick — a singer named Stanley, who (depending on which story you believe) was either a well-schooled poseur pretending to be a filth-encrusted, mentally unbalanced derelict plucked from the streets of his hometown or an authentic example of same. (This topic was actually hotly debated in the letters pages of several Los Angeles publications.)

Either way, the quartet proved so utterly sickening in action that its audio component didn’t get much attention — The Silent Majority doesn’t do much to encourage further exploration. The gravel-voiced Stanley (who was later revealed to be a well-traveled glam-metal singer named Chris Stann) alternates between fried stream- of-consciousness rants (like “Tank” and “Train”) and puerile phallocentric limericks (“Big Black Bush” and “Wet Your Lips”) while guitarist/mastermind Alex Cain regurgitates an endless stream of lackluster riffs retrieved from Dave Navarro’s dustbin. For once, H.L. Mencken’s axiom about underestimating the taste of the American people was proved wrong: The Silent Majority, followed logically by Life, Sex & Death, sank without a trace.

[Deborah Sprague]