Exhuming a Classic: OLD’s Old Lady Drivers

I recently saw a news post from Hammerheart Records heralding the release of the timeless grindcore classic Old Lady Drivers from OLD. If you read that sentence and thought to yourself, “How is this album a classic if I’ve never heard it?” then you and I are in the same boat. Thankfully, OLD’s take on the nascent grind scene of the late 80s is still widely available and streaming in full on Spotify, so grab your grave-robbing kits; we’re going to exhume a “classic” together.

Old Lady Drivers was the 1988 self-titled release from Alan Dubin and James Plotkin’s (at the time) joke grindcore band. Plotkin’s prior act, 80’s also-rans Regurgitation, had just broken up, so he and mouth-of-Sauron-turned-vocalist Dubin teamed up to create a satirical grindcore band to lampoon the state-of-the-practice. Like all good satire, though, the end product is surprisingly convincing in a very Jonathan Swift-ian fashion. It’s deranged, repulsive, and somehow not only fits in perfectly into the musical climate of the time but also acts as a sort of harbinger for ideas that would only become concrete decades after its creation.

Upon first glance, Old Lady Drivers looks like an 80s grindcore record through and through, albeit one with a bizarre fixation on ladies of the elderly persuasion and the bizarre medical and memory foibles they experience. The song lengths are short. The guitars buzz and rip with the requisite amount of thin production and sharp, punky riffs. Dubin’s vocals shriek and pop over manic drumbeats riddled with frantic, and even at times sloppy, blasts and d-beats. As a grindcore record, Old Lady Drivers is a reminder of what this burgeoning scene was all about: young kids trying to outdo each other by playing faster and more violently. In these regards, Old Lady Drivers is a perfect facsimile of the scene it was meant to humorously critique.

However, it doesn’t take long for the deranged genius of Dubin and Plotkin (who would go on to form bizarro drone metal act Khanate) to peek through the cracks between the grind elements. “Total Hag” starts out with a snarled chant over heavy distortion not dissimilar from Napalm Death’s “Apex Predator – Easy Meat.” “Tracheotomy Peashooter,” after a few cycles of drum battery and unhinged howls, breaks into a bruising wall of hyper-fast drum rolls over heavy distortion that reminds me of the almost ritualistic outro of Pig Destroyer’s “Hyperviolet.” “Wisdom Lost” contains an almost progressive rock riff with a much more outside-the-box drum approach backing a bizarre chant of “Where are my dentures?” before a cowbell leads to a full-blown arena rock riff. The grind then comes back only for the next track to morph into a gonzo cover of Eric Clapton‘s “Cocaine.” These are just a few examples of how weird things get, and by the end of “Screaming Geezer,” the 15th and final track, the Death-esque progressive guitar passages and Nuclear Death-like gibbering vocals seem tame compared to some of the other, stranger waters tread on this album.

What’s perhaps more impressive then is that Dubin and Plotkin, in addition to Jason Everman (Nirvana, Soundgarden) on bass and Ralph Pimentel on drums, were able to make such an impressive travesty of grindcore that somehow sounds shockingly ahead of its time. There are trace elements of future releases from many of the aforementioned acts and others, including Cattle DecapitationFantomas, and Godflesh, littered across this record. It’s both an interesting historical artifact that shows how far the genre had progressed by 1988 and a startling crystal ball that seemed to divine how metal would develop in future decades.

Interestingly, what stands out most to me about Old Lady Drivers is the way that it sounds like a joke from a number of highly talented musicians who, in the course of its creation, realized that they wanted to do something more. This seed would germinate on OLD’s next full-length, 1991’s Lo Flux Tube, a twisting, disorienting pipework of avant-garde metal with a crushing industrial atmosphere not unlike the ground covered by Godflesh on Streetcleaner.

Lo Flux Tube is fascinating but decidedly un-grindcore, and the band would never again return to the ultra-violence found on Old Lady Drivers. For that reason, perhaps, it should be a mandatory listen for adventurous metal fans everywhere. I can understand, though, if the gimmicky lyrics about elderly women or if the suspect traces of musical prowess are turn-offs. If Old Lady Drivers is a classic grindcore album, it’s certainly not because of its dedication to genre norms. It’s legendary status owes entirely for its ability to encapsulate the past to predict the future in the world of metal.

If you like what you’ve read, keep an eye on Hammerheart’s Bandcamp page for info on the re-issue.

(Photo VIA)

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Published on: March 24, 2016

Filled Under: Metal, Nostalgia Boners

Views: 1121

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  • Edward/Breegrodamus™

    Yo, dude from Nirvana played on this and then those dudes went to form Khanate?

    • ARE YOU SPEAKING OF WHO I THINK YOU ARE SPEAKING OF? OUR LORD AND SAVIOR?

      GL

      • Everything leads to Grohl.

        • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

          Grohl wrote the lyrics to the first Khanate album.

          • YourLogicIsFlushed

            Grohl wrote the lyrics to The Star Spangled Banner.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Francis Scott Grohl.

          • “There Goes My Hero” was written from the perspective of humanity towards Dave Grohl.

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            No, he wrote it about everyone’s favorite superhero:

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            Grohl wrote every single hit song from the 60’s up until now. He’s not mentioned in the credits, though, since even writing his name would cause the CDs and albums to melt.

        • In America, the streets are paved in Grohl, pure Grohl!

        • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls
      • Edward/Breegrodamus™

        Nope, Jason Everman.

        • I don’t believe you. But, please continue.

          GL

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            You have to admit it’s a pretty big face palm mind blown musical moment, GL. Some dudes in a band together in the late 80s went on to play in Nirvana and Khanate. I had no idea, I’m stunned.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Jason Everman was a big metal fan, hence his attraction to Bleach, since that one is their heaviest album.

          • He must be the one that slaps the bass, since I do not recognize the name.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            He played guitar for them. Very briefly.

          • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

            Went on to become a Army Ranger/Green Beret, then Philosophy major at Columbia Pretty wild life all in all.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Totally.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain
          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            Not nearly as weird as the guys from Possessed and Blind Illusion going on to form Primus (and Larry LaLonde trashing metal afterwards).

      • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

        Rob Schneider?

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    Never heard that Old. Just this one.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLC6j6kvxMM

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    Still the weirdest grindcore album…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mINKK1Hpm3c

    • Love me some early Discordance Axis. The album you posted I can’t fucking stand though. Dave Witte is the master of the one footed blast. Such a beast. Watching this dude cover all of Jouhou is just incredible.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btjYXua-06I

      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        Dude goes hard.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™
      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        Haven’t heard that one. Thanks for sharing!

      • Matt Widener is such an underrated guy.

        • Edward/Breegrodamus™

          It never even occurred to me he was in all of those other bands. I’d like some more Liberteer material, though.

          • Yeah, dude has a lot of solo projects that no one seems to recognize. Strange really since it’s all quality shit. He’ll forever be just that lumberjack looking dude in Cretin though.

          • Shrimp in a Pizza Box

            I wouldn’t mind being that lumberjack looking dude in Cretin to be honest. Liberteer is some good shit though, any suggestions on what else I should check out?

          • County Medical Examiners

          • County Medical Examiners like Jimmy said. It’s all early Carcass worship. Sick gore-grind.

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            Yup. They’ve even said that from the very beginning. Awesome band, and definitely a great homage to the pre-Heartwork stuff of Carcass.

      • Man I love that record.

        • Dubs

          Liberteer rules.

  • Another abbreviated 3 letter grind band. Album crushes.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNibVf7oVcM

  • Colostomy Grab Bag from Grindcrusher was my first introduction to these guys. One of the best comps from the early 90’s.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_mQmwS2rWHg

    • Max

      Ha ha, mine too! I’ve raved about Grindcrusher too much to subject everybody to my rantings again, but yes.

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Wait, so Lo Flux Tube isn’t getting rereleased? 🙁 Don’t get me wrong, super-cool to see the first getting a proper release at last. Just that Lo Flux Tube is my fave.

    • Dubs

      Unfortunately, doesn’t look that way.

  • Sight Vnseen

    Snagged this and Napalm Death Peel Sessions at the weirdest record store I’ve been to. The owner looked like Moby and didn’t say a word. He had a white cat that followed me around, trying it’s best to box me out. Seems fitting.

    • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

      Maybe it was wanting to play with the inverted cross on your forehead. Cats are territorial like that.

      • Sight Vnseen

        He was probably pissed I got his copy of Pierced From Within. Forgot I picked that up too.

        • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

          You’re definitely sitting on a very pricey collector’s item if you’ve got PFW. We talked about it a week or so ago, and it’s going from $90 and up on Ebay and Amazon.

          • Sight Vnseen

            Yeah. I was shocked.

        • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

          Lucky

          • Sight Vnseen

            Had no idea it was that valuable at the time. Still haven’t opened it either.

          • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

            Gah! Send it to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Sight Vnseen

            Sure. Just don’t open it and send it back in a week.

            Love Suffocation.

          • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

            Haha! Deal.

  • Rob M
  • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

    This seems like a fun time.

  • Finished this album up. It rules.

    https://ifrinn.bandcamp.com/album/ifrinn

  • wow, that guitar tone on Lo Flux Tube! it’s so distinctive, yet i can’t place another spot where which i’ve heard it! anybody?? (Akercocke maybe)

  • Sir Tapir The Based

    This band is a Tapir Approved band.

  • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

    Goatdayum, this is one I haven’t heard in fucking ages! Definitely a classic, and severely underrated. And still as grimy and lo-fi as I remember it.

  • UNCLE BLACKBEARD

    currently doing a job for:

    • better than moon flye or-whatever-her-name-was lolz

      • UNCLE BLACKBEARD

        THE FUCKING TRAINMASTER

    • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

      A cowboy?

  • sweetooth0

    I was just jammin Lo Flux Tube this morning while I was gettin ready for work. Love this band in all eras.

    • Dubs

      Very cool to see such a wild progression.

  • Max

    Jason Everman was in O.L.D.? Are you sure on that one, W? I don’t doubt your research skills, but I’ve never heard that before.

    If true – that guy really had bad luck with bands! He’s been in like four notable ones that either didn’t get beyond cult status or, if they did, he was kicked out.