Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Claw Hammer - Hold Your Tongue and Say Apple (Interscope, 1997)

"Claw Hammer formed in 1986 in Long Beach, California; its members were from several neighboring municipalities. Their name was taken from a Captain Beefheart song. The group released a cassette and some small-issue EPs and singles before signing to Sympathy for the Record Industry, who released their debut LP, an eponymous effort, in 1990. Another EP and two full-lengths followed on Sympathy; the group won acclaim for its live shows before signing to Epitaph Records for their 1993 release, Pablum. In 1994, Claw Hammer performed as the backing band on Wayne Kramer's Epitaph release, The Hard Stuff. Jumping to major label Interscope, they released two more LPs, the last being 1997's Hold Your Tongue (and Say Apple). The group played live until 2000." (

Though they may have named themselves after a Captain Beefheart tune, Claw Hammer was more sleazy punk rock (and roll) than beefheartian avant-garde. For "Hold Your Tongue...", the band's second album on Interscope, they made the switch from longtime producer, Bad Religion's Brett Gurewitz (also the owner of their former label, Epitaph), to Memphis-native Jim Dickinson.  Dickinson, known for his work with Big Star and the Replacements, effectively brought out the more "rock & roll" side in Claw Hammer. Unfortunately this would serve as Claw Hammer's last release before disbanding in 2000. 

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