Destination: Love – Live! at Cold Rice album cover
Destination: Love – Live! at Cold Rice

The Make-Up

Dischord Records

With its flashy, mod-chic cover art, Top of the Pops–meets-political-rally MC introduction (“All the way from Chocolate City…”) and overall aura of conceptual mischief, the Make-Up’s debut LP positioned itself far outside the artifice-free zone Dischord was best known for. Three of its four members had staked out similar territory in Nation of Ulysses, an earlier act on the label that came off like Jean-Luc Godard’s idea of a post-hardcore band, couched in leftist revolutionary rhetoric and neo-‘60s style. Joining up with new bassist Michelle Mae, vocalist Ian Svenonius, guitarist-organist James Canty (who had drummed in Ulysses) and drummer Steve Gamboa (switching from bass to drums) took these elements even further, donning matching suits and inventing a so-called “liberation theology” they termed Gospel Yeh-Yeh. The music itself — studio-recorded by Guy Picciotto but positioned as a document of a live performance, complete with fake applause — stands up to the shtick: a swinging soul-punk hybrid topped with Svenonius’ overheated yelp and James Brown–esque squeals. “They Live by Night,” for example, with its flailing, Troggs-y groove and smooth backing vocals from Mae, is pure garagey time-capsule brilliance, while Canty’s organ pushes “So…Chocolatey / Destination Love” into DIY-gospel ecstasy.

Hank Shteamer

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