Back in the first week of January, I put up a Buried Treasure post about Blue Explosion: A Tribute to Blue Cheer and said that the reason I bought it was because I had a comp jones and Bastards Will Pay: A Tribute to Trouble seemed eternally elusive. In a comment to that very post, a hero named Dave emerged to tell me there was a copy up on eBay UK right then.
I immediately clicked the link and found that, indeed, someone was selling the 1999 Freedoom Records tribute to Chicago doomers Trouble; a CD I first encountered a few years back in an epic and drunken excursion to Lansing, Michigan, at the home of Midwestern heavy rock luminary Postman Dan. All of a sudden, there was Church of Misery covering “Come Touch the Sky,” Orange Goblin doing “Black Shapes of Doom.” Life was good.
In light of vocalist Kory Clarke‘s somewhat prickish exit from Trouble yesterday and the announcement that he’d be replaced by Kyle Thomas — who’d filled in when Eric Wagner left previously — I thought it would be a good opportunity to take a look at Bastards Will Pay and see if there might be any vocalist candidates among the 13 bands involved. Sure, most of them would have to be imported from Sweden to to it, but I know if Bruce Franklin called, I’d seriously consider relocation as an option for the immediate future. Would get me off my ass, in other words.
There are some killer singers here. It was 1999, so Christian “Spice” Sjöstrand was still fronting Spiritual Beggars for their organ-heavy cover of “Mr. White,” and Eric Wagner himself takes the helm with This Tortured Soul for opener “The Tempter.” He’s left Trouble and come back before, so it could happen again — although that Blackfinger record should probably materialize first. Uwe Groebel, then of Naevus and currently of Voodooshock, makes “R.I.P.” a highlight, and The Quill‘s “A Sinner’s Fame” rests largely on the shoulders of singer Magnus Ekwall, so he’d be in the running too. If you’re feeling fancy, you might ask Joakim Nilsson — then of Norrsken, who close with an excellent take on “Psalm 9” — but he’d probably be too busy these days with Graveyard to actually do it.
Of those and the rest, Groebel might be the best match to Wagner‘s original vocals in terms of style and what he brings to the track, but neither Orange Goblin, nor Church of Misery, nor Rise and Shine‘s Sunlight Studio-tastic version of “‘Scuse Me” is lacking for personality, and if Trouble brought in Kory Clarke in the first place, sticking to the Wagner (recent interview here) blueprint clearly isn’t high on their list of priorities. Thomas killed it on Alabama Thunderpussy‘s fully-metalized Open Fire swansong, so it should be interesting to see what he does on the album if, in fact, things go that way.
And in the meantime, Bastards Will Pay: A Tribute to Trouble was well worth the anticipation I felt for it and whatever it was I finally shelled out when that eBay auction was done. It’s another on a long list of comps that only appeals to me years after the fact, but despite some pretty wide production gaps and volume changes, a cool look at Trouble‘s still-enduring legacy. Thanks again to Dave, wherever he might be.