Anybody who knows local rock 'n' roll has likely seen the Ruiners by now, or at least heard of them. Stories of the band's antics border novelty and are legion, such as frontman Rick Ruiner's penchant for setting his leather trousers ablaze on stage, the fights, clink stints and all of that silly stuff. Oh, and backing vocalist-cheerleader Nina Friday is a doppelgänger for former underage porn tease Traci Lords.
They've little to learn in show, but there's long been suspicion that the band is all icing and no cake, and there's so much going on live it's difficult to hear the actual music. Is that deliberate? Because, on record, there are no fiery garments and dancing girls to huddle behind?
Yes and no.
The band members are average musicians and, with the exception of the title tune and "Fix the Broken Halo," there's nothing particularly catchy here. But the Ruiners obviously have so much fun, even on record, that it's impossible not to be carried along on the ride. "Charlie Laine Ate My Brain" (ode to the porn star, natch) sports a Cramps-y vibe, though the band falls flat with the dull drawl of "Suburban Cop" and the dumb drunk of "Beer Time." What's good is the songs are short enough that the limpers are over in a flash.
The Ruiners are a good, not great, rock 'n' roll band. The sloppy playing, 'tude and trashy lyrics are part of the deal, and they're far better live than on record. Still, there's lotsa fun here, and if you've never seen 'em live, you'd never know.
Brett Callwood writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.