Sister Machine Gun – Burn

30 Reviews in 30 Days: #6

Didn’t get to listen to much of anything, as I was fighting my 9 year old all day – trying to get him to clean his room. Fishing through the CD review to do box, I need to listen to this one – over and over and over . . .

Sister Machine Gun Burn

Wax Trax/TVT, 1995
Sister Machine Gun - Burn
Personnel: Chris Randall (vocals, keyboards, programming), Xmas (Guitars), Bob Jones (Bass), Gino Lenardo (Guitar), Marx Williams (Sax), and Wolf Larson (Sax).
Production: Chris Randall (producer)
Liner notes include booklet, production note, and lyrics.

Pretty sure I purchased this – back in Wichita (it’s not UPC punched, so I know it wasn’t a promo disk) – back close to it’s original release date, October 17, 1995. The closest they were playing on the tour supporting this outing was Kansas City, just a quick jog up the turnpike. I either bought a ticket or it was comped (see below). It’s all a blur. I only got as far as just past the El Dorado exit and my 1974 Honda Civic decided the throw a rod. Screw it. I hitchhiked the rest of the way to Kansas City. Nice trucker. No hanky panky, just a good guy thankful for a few hours of company. Most truckers are nice. I should have gone home, but there was no way I was going to miss this show. Ended up taking the Greyhound back late that night. Oh the adventures I had in my early 20’s. But that day marked the last time I actually owned a car until I moved (kicking and screaming in protest) back to Oklahoma.

But back to the music:
1. red – For the title, more than anything in the past 15 years, this has ended up on several mix tapes and playlists. Of course, there are two reasons for that – the primary is the color in the title and its connection to my favorite Major League Soccer team, the Chicago Fire; and the secondary, is that I have always dug this song. It grooves, with a pop quality. Doors influence is heard on the keyboards throughout the song. “I don’t know how I’ll make it through this night . . .”
2. overload – Down and dirty we get as we sludge into this song. The vocals begin with a rap-like, staccato delivery in the verse, with the chorus being less clean and through the grinder. It’s catchy and I found myself listening to this one a lot late at night driving home (well until my car died) with the windows down, music cranked as loud as it would go.
3. hole in the ground – The grinding beat and ‘tude continue into this song, shifting pace ever so slightly, with full attack of a wall of sound. The chorus could allude to environmental politics, but it’s more likely a personal hell, “the river of sin I’m swimming in.”
4. disease – The addiction of a relationship, and some might compare the production and lyrics to the first Nine Inch Nails/Trent Reznor project, pretty hate machine six years earlier.
But the overall feel is unlike NIN/Reznor. While Trent crooned about “The Perfect Drug” in a romantic manner, Chris Randall laments his relationship that he cannot break free from in a manner that compares it to drug addiction, using a darker tone in the music and vocal delivery.
5. burn – Another song, that for similar reasons, has ended up on mix CD’s and playlists that connect to my soccer fanaticism. It is a sexy song, full of eroticism, and make-out seduction.
6. dispossessed – Simple begins this song, stark jazz-influenced drums leading into danceable, vibratory overlays. A club tune.
7. better than me – We revisit the imagery of burning as an emotion, akin to desire, need. Again, a song worthy of the industrial other dance floors that feature DJ’s willing to branch out. Simple beats with guitars and sampling that invite undulating moves of an erotic tease.
8. snake – Delicious industrial jazz with rapid fire spoken vocals. The track fades and the tail includes a bleed into . . .
9. i don’t believe – A song of disconnect, but the question is who is the “you” that Chris is singing to? Musically, a rolling piece that ends with a similar slow, feedback, noise as it began.
10. inside – A jazz with drums setting the bedroom, come hither beat. “I want to be inside you.” Oh, yeah. The music ends at the 5:25 mark, though the length on the CD is earmarked at 8:36. At the 6:41 mark, the hidden track kicks in. Avant garde, jazz with a back beat, bass slightly behind the beat. And it just stops, almost mid-note, leaving you wanting more.

This album will likely forever remain in my top ten of albums that I would go back to on a regular basis. The tiny coffee shop I saw SMG in later burned down, if I recall correctly, but the music lives on in recorded measures and in my heart.
5 out of 5 PBR Pint Rating

Listening notes: Last spin while penning this walk down memory lane was on the Samsung laptop with those earbuds aforementioned in the last post. My copy I shall not part with. The liner notes were signed by Chris Randall, Pat Sprawl, Richard Deacon, and Kevin Temple (SMG on the Burn tour, 1995). Please note that the Amazon link to purchase this album is the reissue which includes a bonus track “Strange Days”, as track 1. The mp3 album from Amazon is just 10 tracks, as originally released.

What happened to my car? I went back with the help of a friend and gathered the rest of my stuff out of it. Then I left a signed title in it. I had already dropped a rebuilt engine in it, so decided another one wasn’t worth the trouble, for the same problem.

Ticket stub - Sister Machine Gun, April 17, 1006

Sister Machine Gun, 17 April 1996, Daily Grind, Kansas City.


About Kirsten Tautfest

Writer. I've done a lot of living in almost 40 years. My first two self-published books in print/Kindle are what I have termed serial soccer fiction. Red Tales is based around a professional soccer team, set in 1998 their inaugural year, and traces the lives of the players, staff, and fans and how they all intertwine and collide for better or for worse.
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