Reviews

The Rats In a Desperate Red LP

The decades-long DIY rock ‘n’ roll love story of Fred and Toody Cole is by now well worn. I’d be surprised if most readers of Maximum Rocknroll don’t have at least a cursory knowledge of DEAD MOON, Fred and Toody’s most widely-known and long-running band. But before DEAD MOON and PIERCED ARROWS, Fred and Toody were part of Portland punk’s first wave in the form of a band called the RATS. (For those not in the know, Fred’s roots go way back into the ’60s, but that’s a story for another day and another reissue.)  In a Desperate Red is the third (and to my mind best) RATS LP, bringing together the rawness and desperation of early punk with the wistful lo-fi tunefulness of Fred and Toody at their best. The Coles had a knack for bringing real human emotion into simple and urgent rock ’n’ roll songs, and In a Desperate Red features that tendency at its finest. Incredible songs about feeling antisocial (“Leave Me Alone”) sit side-by-side with songs about finding solace with a long-time love (“It’s Still You”) and songs about the drudgery of working life (“Working Class”). This long-awaited reissue spares no expense; the gorgeous 40-page booklet is a real treat for long-time fans, and the vinyl sounds fantastic. Completely mandatory.