Monday, April 20, 2009
NOBODY KNOWS: A Christian Punk Jewel
Oftentimes, Christian Punk is categorically ridiculed as being condescending and even patronizing. In many cases these bands take a soapbox approach, and from their pedestals can be annoyingly elitist and insulting to a listener who may be, for better or worse, "uninitiated". This is defeating the purpose, is it not? As good as their musicianship may have been, you felt excluded and often gave up on them.
There was a band that recorded for a short period of time that didn't fall into that ridiculous trap. They were Nobody Special, led by guitarist/singer/primary songwriter Pat Nobody. In 1989 the planets aligned, and they recorded what I feel as a punk rock sampling madman myself, SOME KIND OF MASTERWORK. The album was released by Broken Records, entitled "Call it Whatever You Want".
Make no mistake, NS could lean toward that pushy "Jesus Freak" (not my term) platitudism, but when they did step in that direction, it was brief, and not out of place. Where they excelled was in putting together music that you did not have to be a diehard religious fanatic to not just enjoy, but completely rock out to.
"Call it Whatever You Want" is loaded with songs like that. My favorite, "Fingerpointer" features a galloping riff, that much like their trademark Ramones-esque mid tempo romping, has you bobbing you head. Nobody's lyrics take a poke at self-righteousness, while underlining his own humanity. He may be be a lot of things, but smug, Mr. Nobody is not.
"Point your finger at me, I'll bite it off
I don't need you to tell me how to live.
Slap my face, I'll turn the other cheek.
Maybe, ...maybe not." -Pat Nobody
Smart, to the point lyrics. Good stuff.
On "Special People", the band takes a different look at the mentally handicapped, and sees them as not as shortchanged, but unburdened by the luggage that being "intelligent" carries.
"It's you and I who have to constantly see
Just How destructive knowledge can be." --Pat Nobody
A track that I as far back as 1990 have held dear to my heart, "Weirdo" spins a somber and weatherbeaten vibe, as Nobody seems to feel uncomfortable in his own skin, and like an outcast in his own world. He sings not with bellowing rage, but with beleagured frustration.
"I can see your point of view, you have ambitions,
things you want to do,
but me too,
Just not like you." --Pat Nobody.
The band just rips on this album. Nobody and Frank Wesolek grind out some memorable and undeniably catchy riffs. Tony Cena drums like Chris Mars on acid. Chris "The Vax" Kouacs keeps time with Cena, and flourishes just enough to keep things snappy. "Call it Whatever You Want" is like a great picture taken in a weird place. You can't forget it, and you won't throw it away. You constantly find your self pulling it back out and looking at it again, because you can't believe it's an accurate representation of what it is.
This is a Christian Punk band? Wow.
Nobody else in that sub-genre can touch this record, and to be honest, few that fall in the category of regular punk, or even "secular" if you prefer the term, can carry it's jock, either.
Nobody Special doesn't exist anymore, and this unheralded piece of history is way too hard to find. My only copy is a vinyl rip. I urge you to search it out.