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Reviews CD Reviews Gothic The Spooky Kids- Lunch Boxes and Choklit Cows


  Artist: The Spooky Kids
CD Title: Lunch Boxes & Choklit Cows
Label: Universal
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Date: 9/20/04

Long before the days when it was trendy for goths to openly hate Marilyn Manson…before all of the controversy…there was a little band by the name of Marilyn Manson and The Spooky Kids selling out clubs in Florida. Fronted by a certain Brian Warner, the five-piece (err…varying two-to-five piece) would eventually catch the attention of someone by the name of Mr. Reznor and begin a fairly prolific career sans most of its original members. Lunch Boxes & Choklit Cows compiles ten cuts selected from six of the band's early demos, apparently assembled by guitarist Daisy Berkowitz (and, according to recent lawsuits, without the permission of Brian…err…Marilyn Manson). All are remastered from the original tapes, and when I say remastered, I mean considerably better quality than the various mp3s floating around out there. Don't get me wrong, they still aren't polished studio recordings, but they're fairly decent…perhaps having a lo-fi sound quality comparable to a number of early-mid 80s independent post-punk/deathrock records.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this compilation for fans will probably be hearing the formation of some of the ideas that would appear in Manson's later work. Certain song or rhythmic structures foreshadow future material. Every once in a while, you'll catch a phrase or line that was recycled in future lyrics. The material itself is actually fairly good on its own merits, though…not always noteworthy, but generally decent with a few outstanding numbers. "Negative Three" is a killer track that goes for the post-punk/deathrock jugular with Manson's voice taking on a deep, melodic goth rock tone that's almost unrecognizable as his. "Meat for a Queen" is a fairly standard industrial rock track, but its mellow rock intro is beautiful. "Scaredy Cat" is a good track that foreshadows "Dope Hat" and, rhythmically, later tracks like "The Beautiful People". The moody rocker "Thrift", built around a melodic delayed lead guitar riff, is probably the best track here, a topnotch number that showcases both rock intensity and rudimentary pop sensibilities.

Perhaps the main flaw here is the absence of additional material. Great songs like "Suicide Snowman" are nowhere to be found (perhaps saved for a second compilation that will probably never happen if the lawsuits are any indication). Considering the fact that the disc is only a little over 40 minutes long, another 5 or 10 tracks certainly would have made for a better, more worthwhile collection. Still, the album has a bonus: a DVD containing three tracks of raw video performance footage and a small handful of poster/band/newspaper photos. It's definitely interesting to see a more or less makeup free early club incarnation of the band, but the disc is fairly short and the raw footage probably isn't something even hardcore fans will likely find themselves watching often. It's a nice bonus, though, if only for its value as a historical artifact and the insight it offers into the band's past.

Lunch Boxes & Choklit Cows is a release that Marilyn Manson fans will certainly find historically significant if not musically worthwhile. Even with the bonus DVD, it skimps a bit on the content considering the fact that it was compiled from 6 demos worth of material, but it's a fairly good set with a decent sense of cohesion. The sound quality certainly isn't amazing, but it's probably better than most of the mp3s and bootlegs circulating out there, and there is a fair amount of rather good material to be found here. The rawer, more straightforward post-punk and industrial leanings here may actually appeal to some fans and non-fans that haven't been particularly fond of the band's more recent work. However, the album will probably appeal most to hardcore Manson fans looking for insight into the band's formative years or simply wishing to hear unreleased material.


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