Wednesday, August 09, 2006
The Urge to Rock... Rock Very Hard: Urge Overkill's Underrated "Saturation"
URGE OVERKILL were one of the most underrated, hardest-rocking bands of the 90s rock renaissance. Laypeople may know them for their unironic cover of Neil Diamond's "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon." But there was much more to the Urge than Brill Building cover tunes. They were major players, along with Liz Phair and Smashing Pumpkins, in the 90s Chicago music scene. They were lauded by the Rock aristocracy, including Kurt Cobain and Chrissie Hynde. The Urge reached full supernova with their watershed album SATURATION.
If you know Saturation, you know it as one of the strongest CDs of the entire decade. Nash Kato (guitar/vocals), "King" Eddie Roeser (guitar/bass/vocals), and Blackie Onassis (drums) were a power trio in the truest sense, writing anthems in the classic rock tradition and played them with unbridled abandon. From the minor hit "Sister Havana" to the hook-laden "Positive Bleeding" (their finest moment in my opinion) to the closing ballad "Heaven 90210," Saturation was one of those ultra-rare Perfect Albums, with nary a dud. They also cultivated a distinctive style, dressing in matching suits, wearing "UO" medallions (I am a proud owner of one myself) and sipping Cavett-dry martinis.
When asked to describe the UO philosophy, Kato told Rolling Stone, "We have an insatiable urge to rock. Rock very hard."
A strong follow-up could have put them near the top of the rock hierarchy. Sadly, the aptly titled Exit the Dragon, while containing several excellent tracks, including "Somebody Else's Body," did not fulfill that promise and the group never made another album. Blackie Onassis became a heroin addict and was dismissed from the group.
The Urge is all but forgotten now -- in fact, Saturation, is out of print. But there are 97 "used & new" copies available on Amazon.com, starting at a whopping 40 cents. I suggest you buy them all.