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There's quite a lot to take in on the cover of the Jersey Dogs' debut EP Don't Worry, Get Angry, released through the small but striving Wild Rags imprint in 1989, when the thrash metal genre was in full stride and it was time to put up or shut up. Three separate fonts, including the horrible band logo. The Earth positioned as a toilet, as if to infer that the listener should take a massive poop on his home world. Last but not least, hovering above said toilet's seat, adorned with the poison symbol, an outline of New Jersey itself, one of the most vile and wretched hives of villainy in our entire universe, responsible for horrid reality TV programming, the lifeline of the 'Guido' personality type and other treacherous individuals like Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi.
Hovering near such a large metropolitan nexus as New York City, and itself ridden with criminals, scum, toxic waste and other filth, New Jersey was actually prime territory for fostering an angry thrash metal band, and that is in fact the tree up which Jersey Dogs would climb in their brief career. This was essentially a stop gap for the rhythm section of the USPM act Attacker, and its career existed started after The Second Coming, coming to an end in the front end of the 90s, well before that band would resume its own path in the 21st century. Lou Ciarlo (bass, vocals), Mike Sabatini (drums) and Mike Benetatos (guitar) form the meaty core of this act, a pretty straight city thrash act with some similarities to fellow urbanites Blood Feast, Gothic Slam and the skimpy Slaughter House.
The dogs keep their introduction short and tight, leading in with an ironic intro and then into the slamming rhythms of "Wasted World" which instantly recounts Sacred Reich's debut Ignorance. In fact, though they carry a slightly less bulky, more sleazy tone, the vocals even sound similar, but it matters little when you can head bang this hard to something. The music is hardly intricate nor even that well written, but the thick guitars and grounded drum work could easily stir up a late 80s pit. Had the band kept up at this level, who knows what possibilities might have ensued. "Who's to Blame" is much in the same style, with further similarities to that Arizona thrash of Sacred Reich, and thanks to the faster pace here, a mix of Atrophy and the more local Nuclear Assault. "Another Pretty Day" slows for another thick and crunchy, ass and breast jiggling juggernaut approach, with Ciarlo's vocal spinning almost into Exodus, Zetro territory with its sinister sneering.
To round this out, the band have included covers of AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds" and Van Halen's "Somebody Get Me a Doctor", both loud and pulverizing and performed in the Jersey Dogs' normal tones. Of course this is contrived and doesn't add as much value to the EP as a few more originals might have, but its always best when a band would make covers 'their own', and this practice is not lost upon the thrashing trio, who slide them on in like a well lubricated pickle to a salivating orifice. The whole 23 minutes of Don't Worry, Get Angry can at worst be accused of its relative mediocrity to the rest of what was going on in thrash metal of the time. The riffs are so basic that they might have taken no more than a few passing minutes to conceive, but for a band out to just step on some toes and have a good time, little more would be required. I can't say that I enjoyed this or ever feel an urge to listen back through it, but I hold no ill memories aside from the cover art, which can only be purged by dropping some Earthlings off at the proverbial pool.
By lazy human standards, music’s Reaper has a good job. He doesn’t have to move an inch to go to work and can wear whatever he wants. He loves what he does and effortlessly excels at it without fear of a lay off. Though he deals with people on a regular basis, he doesn’t have to shower for days, ‘cause the only reason he gets visitors is because their sonic agenda has thrown them into his trajectory, and they’re always driven to him whether they know it or not. And it’s never his fault that they’re traveling down his doomed driveway. He doesn’t create waste, nor does he lug it out to the curb. It just lies where it falls, and the garbage men collecting it are fully aware their job will never be done.
Bubbling up from America’s so-called toilet, Jersey Dogs were one of those bands representing end-of-the-decade thrash that, along with a slew of other bands, was on a collision course with the Reaper’s bloody blade. While with Attacker, bassist Louis Ciarlo and drummer Michael Sabatini probably didn’t bat an eye on the face of the world, and with this ep they prevail to a lesser degree, for at least Attacker had some fans.
A one-gear transmission powers three of these non-essential and relatively flameless five tracks, “Wasted World”, “Who’s to Blame”, and “Another Pretty Day” meandering across the thrash battlefield late in the war and not with a whole lot of courage or outrage. It’s thrash unconvincing and reasonable nearing the point of being sensible. Sensible thrash? For hard-core thrashers, sensible thrash is an oxymoron that found residence mainly in sleepy ‘80s/early ‘90s demos that went nowhere, demos that quickly set up house near the barrel bottom, and there were more than enough of them out there to populate the thing. While they’re not lodged in some sub-basement, it’s a place Jersey Dogs would’ve found themselves if it weren’t for band-hungry labels like Wild Rags signing what most others rejected.
“Who’s to Blame” is the most memorable, jogging through a restrained intensity zone where the turbulently talented solos of Jon Ilaw stand out beyond the narrowly presented timing and rhythmic changes in “Wasted World” and “Another Pretty Day”. Trying his hand behind the mike is Ciarlo, sounding like a lightly invigorated Rodney Dunsmore (of the Texan Devastation) with a hoarse Lemmy aspect, but in view of the notes behind him, his unspectacular style is pretty on the money.
The other two tracks are covers unnamed on the album jacket, the fact divulged only by dubbing one side ‘original’ and the other ‘cover’. No sleep would be lost if these versions of “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” or “Somebody Get Me a Doctor” failed to hit the street. With “Dirty Deeds…”, more daring plans could be laid out for playing with a puppy, and while the other mock-up is a better one that grasps Van Halen’s late ‘70s vitality, it’s in little danger of being sought out by moderately faithful cover hounds.
In their defense, along with Ilaw’s colorful soloing, the production is probably one of the best financed by the diminutive label (with thanks surely going to mixer Rob “Raven” Hunter), but that’s hardly the flying color that’s going to deflect the blade already in mid-swing at this ultra-generically titled record. See that toilet on the cover?