Simply Saucer: Cyborgs Revisited

Simply Saucer
Cyborgs Revisited
Sonic Unyon

They've been called "the greatest band of the '70s to influence absolutely no one," and while they probably didn't feel too great back then about being the opposite of the Velvet Underground (you know: nobody who saw Simply Saucer went out and formed a band), these Canadian never-rans are finally creeping closer to the credit they deserve with this comprehensive reissue of their 1989 classic. In the '70s, their hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, must have been another Cleveland, a listing shipwreck of a city with its own native mutant unterculture, so Simply Saucer should be up there with Rocket From the Tombs--who, until their albums were reissued last year, were America's last great lost proto-punk band.

Cyborgs' first nine tracks (which make up the original album) are canon, particularly the three that were recorded live on the roof of a shopping mall in 1975--Simply Saucer's shambling acid-burned proto-punk was at its best, as the Electric Eels would attest, when they just beat the yokels over the head with it. "Here's some heavy metalloid music," drawls singer/guitarist Edgar Breau on "Illegal Bodies," the last mall track. He does a great Lou Reed on the preceding '74 demo songs like "Here Come The Cyborgs (Part 1)," but live, he's a cocky and confident Iggy, teetering atop the freakiest band north of the border as they tip the amphetamine guitars of Funhouse into the mind-meltingest improv jams on Tago Mago. No wonder it took years for people to "get" Simply Saucer: With Cyborgs, they'd even scared themselves, opting to tone down their music a little so they could maybe get an actual show or something.

The bonus material on Cyborgs Revisited, recorded up to five years after the original songs, isn't as tepid a bid for acceptance as it's been made out to be by hardcore bootleg-trading Saucer fans--still-gritty demos like "Little Sally" and "Get My Thrills" demonstrate that even an older and mellower Saucer has plenty of kick. Unfortunately, anything besides a band of onstage self-immolators would wilt next to the monsters they used to be. Still, even the Stooges barely made it through the '70s alive: Simply Saucer simply didn't have a chance, and while they ended their career on a decent arty garage single (1978's "She's A Dog"--think Sacramento's Twinkeyz), they might have hit their peak playing for no one on the roof of that shopping mall.

 
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