Along with the likes of The Melvins and Big Black, Madison, WI’s Killdozer pointed the way in the ‘80s to the bludgeoning, sludgy, heavy-but-not-really-metal underground sound that would own half of the ‘90s, but one crucial thing set Killdozer apart from their contemporaries—they were fucking HILARIOUS. Bassist/vocalist/ringleader Michael Gerald’s demented growl “singing” could inspire menace or laughter at his whim. You-have-to-be-kidding-me album titles like Intellectuals Are the Shoeshine Boys of the Ruling Elite and Uncompromising War on Art Under the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, and songs like “Man Vs. Nature,” the lyrics to which were melodramatically declaimed plot synopses of Irwin Allen disaster movies, cemented their rep in some circles as a goof band, despite their dark social commentary and completely BRUTAL music.
(Tangent/rant: this isn’t necessarily about Killdozer in particular, it’s really more general, but anyway, I do not understand the oft-diminished stature, in much of hip/crit culture, of bands that employ humor. It’s a damn good bit more difficult to make me laugh than to make me angry, but generally it’s been the angsty bands that have been considered “important?” Screw that. I respect the funny. They have a harder job to do.)
Some of the finest expressions of Killdozer’s humor lay in the many, many, completely incongruous cover songs they recorded. They did TONS of this stuff. There’s a cover on all but one of their albums and EPs, and covers comprise a hefty share of their 7” b-sides and compilation tracks.
“Run Through the Jungle,” orig. Creedence Clearwater Revival
“I Am, I Said,” orig. Neil Diamond
“Age of Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In,” with Alice Donut, orig. The 5th Dimension
“Nasty,” orig. Janet Jackson
Then, in 1989, what was surely inevitable happened: Killdozer released an entire covers album, For Ladies Only, which you’d think would have included the Steppenwolf song by that name. It did not. But it was still really, really nuts.
“American Pie,” orig. Don McLean
“One Tin Soldier,” orig. Coven
“Funk No. 49,” orig. The James Gang
This won my grin—YouTube user arfortiyef layered Killdozer’s take on “Hush” over the famous footage of Deep Purple performing it on Playboy After Dark.
Lastly, here’s my absolute favorite Killdozer cover—EMF’s “Unbelievable.” It was the flip side of the 7” of “The Pig Was Cool,” a killer song. This 1992 audience-cam footage isn’t much to look at, but the sound does the job just fine.