Turbonegro: Underrated? Definitely. Fun? Yes. Mad? As a box of hair…and isn’t that why we love them?
Listening to a sampler of their back catalogue, it becomes all the more evident why Turbonegro have sat on the fringes of fame since the late 80s, garnering respect and adulation but never quite hitting it big. Tunes from their debut ‘Hot Cars & Spent Contraceptives’ are a little hit and miss, with dodgy production, so its from ‘Never Is Forever’s ‘(He’s a) Grunge Whore’ that things start getting sharp. The loving pastiche of the early 90s grunge scene gives way to the guitar-driven ‘Oslo Bloodbath Pt III: The Ballad of Gerda and Tore’, which showcases the best of the band as we know them – irony, grating riffs and some frankly ludicrous song titles.
Of course, ‘98’s ‘Apocalypse Dudes’ is the real deal, and their raison d’etre – who could ever tire of ‘The Age of Pamparius’? From being a band merely taking the comedic aspects of a plethora of other acts and setting them to some ok music, they became the embodiment of all that had gone right in music in the 70s and 80s. Yeah sure, they still ripped off the Ramones (at the start of Get It On) et al, but they made the sound their own and just seemed like they were having a damn good time.
Like the unruly teenage children of Alice Cooper and Jello Biafra, they’ve torn their way through nearly two decades, and parodied everything we’ve ever loved, including themselves. We should be thankful that they never hit the big time and got raped into submission by the chart-loving music execs…but then, with a name like that they were never really going to, were they? Turbonegro aren’t dead: Long live Turbonegro.