Album Review

County, Wayne & The Electric Chairs – “Rock ‘n’ Roll Cleopatra” – [RPM]

lombard   1/12/2010   A Library, CD

Rock ‘n’ Roll Cleopatra” is a wonderful slice of 1977-1981 punk from Wayne County & the Electric Chairs. Wayne County, a transgendered performer originally from Georgia, had his musical debut with a his first band Queen Elizabeth in 1971. Known for shocking performances (dildos, toilets, and controversial lyrics), he attracted the attention of folks like David Bowie and Andy Warhol. Beginning in 1978 Wayne started transitioning to Jayne, and Jayne County continues her work as an artist today.

This CD collects material from a number of releases and the sound ranges quite a bit. It’s rock and roll, but at times it’s glam, at times more punk, and there are even bits of ska and 50s Elvis-influenced rock and roll. “Storm the Gates of Heaven” has an ominous organ and has a wonderful horror-movie-esque beginning, with lyrics about a casket. The song gets more upbeat at the end, but retains its creepiness with talk of post-mortem worms.

The liner notes give a fantastic overview of the history of Wayne County (whose band prior to the Electric Chairs was called the Backstreet Boys…can you imagine the 90s boy group being inspired by Wayne County? I hope so!)


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