X Wild Gift (Porterhouse)
The second album by this brutally concisely named Los Angeles quartet, “Wild Gift” combines the elastic melodies of Violent Femmes with Television’s guitar artistry, Talking Heads’ angularity and Wire’s instinct for brevity. Slightly disappointingly, though, this 1981 record adds up to somewhat less than the sum of those illustrious parts.
At its best, for example “In This House That I Call Home”, it’s delirious, shouty, sweaty fun. “Adult Books” almost sounds like David Byrne covering “Prove It”, and the chugging “Universal Corner” slows down and opens up the band’s sound. These fine moments are counterbalanced by the regressive punk thrash of “I’m Coming Over” and “It’s Who You Know”, which sounds like a sedated Dead Kennedys. The band’s music seems, superficially at least, an odd fit with the album’s producer, Doors organist Ray Manzarek, but given that he also supervised the band’s debut, which included a cover of “Soul Kitchen”, there seems to be some method to this apparent madness. Whatever its shortcomings, though, “Wild Gift” definitely works better when heard as an album rather than having its component parts scattered in a playlist, almost as though the songs rely on each other’s support for the reinforced impact.
A flyer inside the sleeve trumpets that “The band X has personally overseen the re-mastering and art direction of their albums to ensure dead accurate reproductions of these iconic releases”, and Porterhouse’s work on “Wild Gift” is indeed pretty good, broadly of Sundazed standard. This 180 gram vinyl reissue sounds agreeably crunchy and punchy in places, but the end of side distortion seems a bit more severe than usual.