Thee Sgt. Major III – The Idea Factory

January 01, 1970


(Spark & Shine Records)


Kurt Bloch, legendary guitar
hero of the Great Northwest and leader of the Fastbacks, has kept himself busy
over the last several years with Sgt. Major, reformatted in early ’08 as Thee
Sgt. Major III. The Idea Factory is
the band’s first full-length release, and is certain to satisfy hardcore
Fastbacks fans, as Kurt wrote ten of the songs and co-wrote the other three.
Teamed up with Young Fresh Fellow member Jim Sangster on bass, and Ex-Posie and
Fastbacker Mike Musburger bashing drums and recently added Leslie Beattie doing
lead vocals, there’s plenty of bubblegum-ish pop-punk exuberance bursting from
your tweeters and woofers. It’s rather a “supergroup” of Seattle music history.
Leslie’s youthful singing voice, (think Clare Grogan from Altered Images, to
some degree and The Avengers’ Penelope Houston a lot) really pops out to the
forefront of every song and is the tasty icing on the party cake.



Atmospherically, the music
really is a time machine to lots of the great sounds of ‘80s and ‘90s pop and
post-punk, making it sound like a lost classic of the period, which is cool, as
those were two of the best musical decades ever. “What Am I Gonna Do?” is a
prime example of that sound, and one of the best numbers on the album, “Into
The Rhizome” is another catchy, rousing anthem. Playing live, the band tosses
out covers by bands like the Replacements, Toy Dolls and The Who. In fact, when
you listen to “Help Is On The Way”, you’ll hear the stealthy inclusion of some
familiar guitar parts from the Who’s “Baba O’Reilly” in there. “Everything Is
New” exchanges guy and gal vocals back and forth with ex-band member Bill
Coury, for whom you may have to strain your ears a bit to tell that it’s a male



The album is very punchy and
upbeat except for three songs that ease off the throttle a bit. As expected,
Kurt Bloch turns in some stunning guitar work that adds extra lustre to every
song. I suspect some younger listeners, previously unfamiliar with the
Fastbacks, may scurry off to a music merchant to grab some early catalogue like
Fastbacks…And His Orchestra or Very, Very Powerful Motor, to catch up
on what they missed. Whether of not TSM3 enters the annals of classic bands
whose music lives on, only time will tell, but comparisons aside, this album
stands well on its own and one can hope that this factory keeps producing
megawatt ideas.


DOWNLOAD: “What Am I Gonna Do?”, “Information Seminar.”/or “New
Painter Man” BARRY ST. VITUS

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