The Grifters: Dave, Scott (guitar); Tripp (bass); Stan (drums).
Additional personnel: John Stivers (guitar); David Hall (didgeridoo); Joseph Pelgram (background vocals).
Producers: The Grifters, Doug Easley, Davis McCain.
Principally recorded in Memphis, Tennessee in January 1994.
Liner Note Author: Andria Lisle.
To put it simply, the Grifters sound like the fruit of all the rebellious guitar-rock that ever was--dirty, heavy, sweetly sneering and full of both tradition-clad grooves and catchy pop glitter. They're from Memphis, and they embody that city's glorious heritage of bending musical tradition. To the soulful lessons of guitar slingers from B.B. King to Elvis to Big Star, the Grifters add a healthy dose of Led Zeppelin, T. Rex and Sonic Youth. When a sharp-edged rolling stone of a tune like "Black Fuel Incinerator" bowls over you, it does so with a fanny-shaking strut, not a plodding thump.
By design, CRAPPIN' YOU NEGATIVE, the quartet's second LP, is hidden behind a veil of low-fidelity static and echo. This creates an EXILE ON MAIN STREET-like impression that these transmissions of the primal rock mythos come from some hellbent youths in a garage, not experienced craftsmen in a studio. But the Grifters are tried-and-true marksmen, capable of firing off brutal, subterranean guitar riffs and rhythms that are as tight as the distortion is loose. Attuned to the spirit of rawk to the last, they're even cheeky enough to hide the album's one genuine pop moment (the Pixies-ish raver "Cinnamon") all the way at the back of the record.
Rolling Stone (2/9/95, pp.57-58) - 4 Stars (out of 5) - "...the Grifters are adept at building cinematic settings out of junkyard scraps....sometimes give the appearance of stumbling around in the dark on their way to a song. But beneath the shambling exterior is sturdier stuff that touches the soul..."
Spin (8/94, p.90) - Highly Recommended - "...CRAPPIN' YOU NEGATIVE is a small kind of masterpiece, an exhilarating summation of their considerable strengths..."
Alternative Press (10/94, p.80) - "...Oh, what a wonderful noise the Grifters make crackling in the psychotropic incandescent smog..."
Option (11-12/94, p.119) - "...For all their hammer-down feedback...these guys are Gurriers underneath: just some good ol' boys, never meanin' no harm....They dream of sound and treble the way girls dream of Steven Malkmus Malevich..."