CHARGED G.B.H - City Baby's Revenge - LP
G.B.H.'s second album is worlds apart from its rough 'n' ready debut, but greatly improved: If anything, this is a more cohesive unit than ever, while the tracks benefit from a sharpened lyrical outlook. The title track is a black-humored sequel to the debut album's "City Baby Attacked By Rats," and ranks among punk's most vivid depictions of urban decay. (This same spirit of marginal restraint doesn't extend to their towering hairdos, though; hence, the in-joke of G.B.H. meaning "Great Big Hair.") But the members of G.B.H. have also begun looking outside the confines of their British hometown of Birmingham -- as demonstrated by tracks like "Diplomatic Immunity," "Vietnamese Blues," and "Christianised Cannibals." Guitarist Jock Blyth can still play at breakneck speed, but no longer feels the need to do so on every track, making the sound easier for non-initiates to grasp. That's not to suggest that G.B.H. has grown up completely -- far from it, as seen on "Drugs Party in 526" and the anti-feminist japery of "Womb With a View," which at least benefits from a sense of humor missing from the po-faced debut. An infectious sense of mischief runs through this album, which closes in rousing fashion with a creative takeoff on the Stooges' "1970." As with other G.B.H. albums, there's no mushy middle ground left to hug: You'll either be turned off or turned on, but you'll never be indifferent. Like the Ramones, G.B.H.'s style never varies too drastically, but the band's collective charisma outweighs such considerations.