In the Spring of 1992, Sicko recorded their demo cassette in a basement somewhere in Washington. Of the songs which made their way to be rerecorded for the debut seven-inch was a little ditty called "fB Song." Named after the infamous Washington icons, Fastbacks, Sicko's tune about not 'necessarily hat(ing) the establishment," must have touched a nerve in Fastback's guitar hero, Kurt Bloch. For some reason or another, Bloch was persuaded to record the session for Sicko's debut seven-inch on eMpTy Records.
Imagine doing your first 'real' recording as a band with one of your heros. Imagine getting to record your tribute song with the man who helped inspire it. I suppose it would be a lot like George Martin producing Oasis' demo tape or Prince laying down tracks with Justin Timberlake before he ever stole our hearts with 'N Sync.
Growing up I always thought Sicko was among the pantheon of 90s pop-punk bands like Screeching Weasel, The Queers and The Mr. T Experience. Nowadays I rarely find anyone who recognizes even these bands, let alone Sicko. (My heart skipped a beat when a barely-18-years-old lanky drummer said he was really into Crimpshrine a few months back.) In my mind and among my circle of friends, Sicko was just as important as Dead Kennedys and The Dead Milkmen: full iconic, canonized status.
I've posted three tracks that Sicko recorded with Kurt Bloch over the years. "Sprinkler," from You Can Feel the Love in This Room
, 1994, Sicko's first album, features Denny on the vocals keeping it real for the kids who grew up in suburbia. A nostaglic ode to times gone by could be totally cheesy but somehow manages to stay "cute" and remain "poignant." This is one of a group of Sicko songs that really immortalize Denny as a songwriter for me. (And as a sidenote, the clean-guitar/distorted-guitar in this song essentially set the template for the pop punk I played in.)
"Bad Situation" is probably the fastest that Ean ever sings on any of the Sicko records, this track coming from their third album, Chef Boy 'R' U Dumb
, 1995. Ean and Denny switched-off with lead vocal duties and even between bass and guitar, but there's some general differences to their song writing approach. Ean is generally more narrative and fanciful and playful, where Denny is generally more introspective and poetic. The beauty of the band was having both parts together, alternating between tracks.
"80 Dollars" features a brilliant use of the dual-vocal setup where Denny sings the verses about Ean, who gets to bring the hook, "It cost me eighty-dollars!" This track was recorded in 1992 (released as a split seven-inch with The Mr. T Experience) and remains to be the best song about a guitar tuner ever written and features the most rhythmically complex solo bridge in the pop punk annuls.
(Buy You Can Feel the Love in This Room
(Buy Chef Boy 'R' U Dumb