Cleveland, Ohio in the late ‘70s was a strange place, populated by strange people with strange ideas of what constituted worthwhile art. And even stronger opinions of what was vital underground culture and what was just a put-on. No one could accuse Pere Ubu, electric eels or The Mirrors of copying the previous generation, much less with any cynical attempts at “making it” or even accidentally crossing over into the “real world.” Into this uncompromising milieu stepped the ensemble known only as Redness. All these years later, Redness’ sole release -- a six-song 7” EP sometimes called Killer Bees -- remains an elusive mystery. Despite emerging from one of the most distinct scenes in underground America, little is known about Redness or how they came to lay down 15 minutes of the greatest art-punk spew of the post-punk era. Influences like Captain Beefheart and The Residents are undeniable, but hardly tell the tale of this all-killer/no-filler EP. From the disorienting set-up of “Killer Bees” and the winking junkyard sprawl-drawl of “Gran Torismo” to the inner-city/outer-limits punk of “Little Debbie” and “Creme Rinse” (as featured on an edition of Chuck Warner’s Homework comps), Redness delivers on all fronts. Factor in the eternal existential philosophy of “Backwards Forwards” and the righteous clatter of “Primitivjam,” and you now have one of the finest unheard records in all of punkdom. Originally released in 1980, Redness’ masterwork has been remastered and finally found its true home on 12” (45 rpm!) vinyl. Available at long last, for everyone, even “the lowliest bum on the street.”
Disclaimer: Jacket suffered some corner damage in shipping.
Our take: Redness is a little-known art-punk band from Cleveland, Ohio, and this record is a reissue of their 1980 7” expanded to a 12” for maximum fidelity. Killer Bees is some of the most out-there art punk I’ve ever heard. As the label’s description notes, you can hear traces of influences from weirdo touchstones like Captain Beefheart and the Residents, but Redness sounds way more homemade, chaotic, and confrontational. “Gran Torismo” and “Creme Rinse” contain traces of melody, but “Little Debbie” and “Primitivjam” sound like the most out-there krautrock experiments minus any trace of musicality or technical ability. The mix of instruments sounds almost random, with horns and synths sharing space with drills, saws, and god-knows-what percussion. If you’re looking for the weirdest of the weird, look no further. You’ve found it.