Shellac’s first full-length ‘At Action Park’ released October 1994 is their finest. Ten songs clocking in at 37 minutes. Perfect. It sounds generally charged and full of sugar compared to what was to come from the group. It all sounds live and, well, pretty much feverishly hot. Not always conventional in structure, but the record does have a certain tightly clicked flow and tempo.
Already famed noisenik frontman Steve Albini– fresh from helping to produce Nirvana’s immense (and not always dissimilar) ‘In Utero’ LP– sounds at times like a freakishly distressed grungefather with a post-hardcore bent.
The drums of Tod Trainer tight and loud and wonderfully rhythmic, keeping time but also working out some individual moments that are amongst the record’s highlights. On top of this there’s those like-nothing-else-around dry strangulation of Albini’s cheesewire guitars, and the sizzling bass-ery of one Rob Weston. The lyrics, of course, as uncompromising, crude, questionable, and untreated as ever.
“There’s a good beat to that”, once said my mum from the hall as I played the record in my bedroom. I guess therein lies the skill.
It’s angry. It’s vexed. it’s avant. But it does got that beat. Hey, even mothers liked the sound of it. ‘At Action Park’ squared the circle around Nirvana and the Jesus Lizard. Or something.