Thursday, May 2, 2013

Ian Rubbish and the Bizarros - The Best of Ian Rubbish EP

Ian Rubbish is a fictional British punk rocker portrayed by Fred Armisen. Created for a single, pre-recorded sketch for an episode of Saturday Night Live, the character takes a lot of influence from other British punk frontmen, notably Johnny Rotten and Joe Strummer. The skit was filmed in a faux-documentary style, exploring the "history of punk" and the Ian Rubbish segment specifically focused on Rubbish's fondness and adoration for the late Margaret Thatcher. Throughout the five minute sketch, there are clips of the fictional band playing some of their most "well known" songs, including the very Pistols-esque "C*nt in a Crown" (an obvious nod to "God Save the Queen"). And that's where this EP comes into play.

Featuring four cuts from the History of Punk sketch (the aforementioned "C*nt in a Crown" was cut from the final track list), The Best of Ian Rubbish consists of full versions of Armisen's take on the '77 Punk style. Tracks like "Hey Policeman!" and "Living in the Gutter" recall The Sex Pistols and The Clash almost perfectly. In fact, if you played them for someone who wasn't familiar with punk rock at all, you could probably convince them that Ian Rubbish and the Bizarros was a real band.

It's the other two tracks on The Best of Ian Rubbish where the humorous parts of the sketch come through in the music. Structurally speaking, "Maggie Thatcher" is still perfectly executed homage to the first wave of British punk rock, although the lyrical approach consist of praise for the former Prime Minister- something that was completely unheard of in the punk scene. The EP's final track, "Sweet Iron Lady", breaks the flow of the '77 punk feel by being a slow, but still electric, ballad. The lyrics point out some of Thatcher's controversial decisions, while still humorously praising her.

The Best of Ian Rubbish is a fantastic, albeit quite short, listen. Armisen really captured the feel of that early punk sound while also churning out some chuckle worthy songs (I'm sure if I had been alive to actually know a thing or two about Thatcher, instead of just reading about her on the Internet, I would have found it to be funnier). It's definitely still worth checking out, and it can be downloaded for free right here.

And in case you missed the History of Punk sketch that this evolved from, here it is:

Word is that Armisen performed as Rubbish opening for Vampire Weekend recently. Perhaps he's considering making a movie based on the character? (A movie in the vein of This Is Spinal Tap about a punk band would be very welcome).

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