JACK RUBY have long been a band who merely existed by whisper and rumor. Some old-timers would mutter they were the most amazing band of the ’77 NYC no wave scene that ever there was, a totally fried proto-punk explosion of Stoogoid power and crazed stun-guitar on the level of Mars or Red Transistor. Ultimately, it’s kind of hard to meet that level of expectation, I’m sure you’d agree.
Now that this stuff’s finally out on a 2xCD compilation called “Hit and Run”, it appears that Jack Ruby really only pulled it off in the studio thrice, on the songs “Hit and Run”, “Bad Teeth” and “Bored Stiff” (which I’m posting for you here), which by themselves are reason enough to spend what you have to on this collection – particularly when there are only five studio-recorded “rock” songs on the two discs. These three are monstrous, and well worth the wait, with a swagger and an aggression that was radical and intense for both its own time and any other.
The rest? This is where tastes may fork. On the rehearsal tapes, which date from a 1977 practice, Jack Ruby sound like a KBD punk band who even leaned skinny-tie power pop on a few numbers, except when they do an exceptional (and fairly different) version of “Hit and Run” – which amps up its “Loose”-style riffage with a free-form guitar interlude that absolutely drenches the room with chaos and uncontrolled feedback, and has all the subtlety of a fat lip.
The remainder – and these are more than half of the running time of the entire collection – is electronic, avant-garde “pieces” that are as far away from rocknroll as Guy Lombardo and Dinah Shore. Don’t be fooled by the number of titles on this thing – it’s those 5 studio recordings that you’re looking for, and maybe one or two live tracks – everything else is pure stuffing that allows for a comprehensive “complete recordings” to be packaged, marketed and sold.