The Hellacopters

With fellow Swedes the Hives garnering a lot of hype for doing a not-bad imitation of the Hellacopters, it's time for these Nordic gods to reclaim the throne of Snowcap Rock. For one thing, the 'Copters have been around almost a decade. In that time they've always steadfastly subscribed to not only the righteous might of the whole rock tradition, from the sweat-soaked echo of the Detroit ballrooms to the almighty roar of the coliseums (where these guys occasionally play), but also the indie spirit of artistic freedom and self- reliance. This has of course led to their having recorded a whole bunch of one-time-only singles and comp cuts for a variety of ultra-cool labels (some still with us and some not): Man's Ruin, Sub Pop, Estrus, Get Hip, etc. This album is an attempt to round up some of those, and it's not a bad introduction to the band, as it's the closest thing we have to an overview of their whole career at this point.

Cream of the Crap contains some of the earliest Hellacopters material captured on wax and also some of the best. Missing links in the 'Copters chronology such as "Misanthropic High," "Makes It Alright," "1995," "Heart of the Matter" and "Killing Allan" make their impact loud and clear. The 'Copters almost always deliver the goods, and this compilation proves that even their odds and ends are by no means throwaways. And these guys ain't short on philosophy, either: Nick Royale sings on "Television Addict," "Just because I watch Dinah Shore/Doesn't mean I need a facelift."

As with any ragtag assemblage of missing links, this one has plenty 'o covers: the Stones' "Gimme Shelter," the Stooges' "I Got a Right," Social Distortion's "The Creeps," all rendered excellently. With 18 songs in all, each of them pushing the sonic frontier a step farther, this is probably one of the flashier displays of pure rock fury you're likely to hear all year. Can't wait for Volume II.

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