Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Schleprock: (America's) Dirty Little Secret

The wonder of music retail (that much-derided field I will be re-joining today) is being surprised by joy. It's the joy of hearing a crisp, new noise pounding out over the speakers and asking, “What is this?” It happens just often enough to maintain your faith. I remember striding across the floor of the rock/pop room (on my way to fill out some Bob Seeger-dominated insurance claim) and being stopped dumb by the music. The album cover showed four dorks and a blue screen, the song mentioned Buddy Holly and Mary Tyler Moore and…well, you know the rest (plus Weezer need no further praise from us). Instead, I’d like to offer you another, albeit much smaller, “What is this?" moment. That time a punk-reggae anthem with nagging sense of menace, named "Suburbia" was the culprit.

That song made me zip to the front of the store and grab that CD with the garish cover from the Now Playing stand. "Schleprock? Schleprock!?" I muttered to myself.

Schleprock were one of the many early nineties not-quite-ready-for-prime-time pop-punks of the Dr. Strange label (great name, great sense of history, spotty talent roster). After some catchy singles and a few solid, if workmanlike, albums (and in the thick of the Great Green Day Panic) they got sucked up by Warner Brothers. Unexpectedly in 1996 they delivered, (America’s) Dirty Little Secret not a pat pop-punk record but an SLF-Ruts-Clash ‘79 punk rock shout-along album. The slicked-up production cannot obscure the rough and tumbleness of these songs; the steel-drums n' ska-fueled "TV Dinner", the optimistically defiant rocker “You Can’t Hold Me Down”and of course the double-fist-pumping anthemic chorus of “(Ain’t Got) No Heroes”.

Schleprock - No Heroes

MRML Readers: please don't forget to leave us a comment: give us your review of the Schelprock or tell us your own "What is this moment?"}

*You can, regrettably, buy this album for one cent on Amazon. Alternatively, you can pick-up a Schleprock compilation album called Learning to Fail or you can just support the band members some of whom have re-configured as The Generators.

P.S. Anyone who's been following me lo these many years may realize this is a re-up. By the time I was done revising the write-up, adding the video, the song sample and the new images - it had morphed into a new post.


  1. Yes, this has been done before but these guys are surprisingly good.I kind of ignored bands like Schleprock and Green Day.What ever happened to those Green Day boys?

    I was/am a big fan of The Ruts.They could have been big!

    Thanks for letting me reevaluate Schleprock.

  2. Didn't Green Day dissapear up their own assholes?
    (That from a man who owns almost all of their albums!)
    As for the Ruts they were great, though Chris Salewicz slam them as copyists in "Redemption Song" - of course he also slights the Adverts - jerk!

  3. I missed out on these guys the first go-round, I guess mainly because I dismissed them on the basis of their band name - I mean, Schleprock? C'mon. That sounds like it's gonna be Weird Al's tribute to REO Speedwagon. So color me pleasantly surprised. This rocks and skanks in an extremely good way.

    Thanks again!

  4. What a terrible band name! (But your guess on what they sounded like is pretty excellent.)

    Glad I helped you overcome your not-unwarranted skepticism.

  5. I discovered an old Lollipop fanzine I have with an interview with these guys. I have no idea when it came out. My guess is early nineties though as it was in the peak of my fanzine buying when Flipside existed.

    Wasn't Schleprock a character in the Teenage Pebbles and Bam-Bam cartoon?

  6. "Badluck Schleprock" was the character's name (thanks Wikipedia - never had cable as a kid)and the names seems kinda awkward even if there's a story behind it.

    I've got a collection of mid-nities fanzines with travelogues ("So then we pulled into Topeka...) and interviews ("What are your influences?) whcih part of me would like to scan and part of mewould like to forget about.

  7. A friend of mine used to play cuts from this CD on the radio. Looking at the cover I figured it would be horrid, but I thought it was a pretty good album. Thanks for posting it, I will have to give it a listen and see if it is as good as my memory suggests.

  8. I'm glad we're all in agreement about that cover abomination, as long we can also agree that what lies beneath the hideousness is a damn sight better.

  9. very nice blog. its cool.

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  10. Heh I had a random desire to watch Trojan War the 1997 movie and realized that it was this band playing at the party scene at the end. I also was exposed to them randomly at a store with an equally interesting story (that isn't really worth telling). I had the thought "I may be the last person to ever realize its this band playing." After a quick google search I found this and think maybe I won't be the last person to think about this band hah!

  11. Refusing to let thinking about old band die is out mission here. I shall have to IMDB 'Trojan War' as I'd never heard about till you mentioned it.

  12. I missed this post by a few years but i just had to say this is one of the greatest records ever.I saw the video on mtv and bought the cd the next day.
    It's kinda sad how the major label threw all that money at them and they failed hard,while no doubt will go down in history as the greatest ska/punk band ever :( .

    1. Yeah I keep hoping someday someone with more influence than I will start championing this record.

  13. ill always love you Jeffrey Wilson!


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