DC3’s Liftoff

17 Oct

Yeah that’s right – it’s the other SST band you love to hate.

DC3 was Dez Cadena’s ill-fated post BLACK FLAG gig wherein he was matched with ex-SCREAMERS keyboardist Paul Roessler, then just outta his tangled TWISTED ROOTS. Four albums, a handfull of tours (I saw em open for FIREHOSE and THE BUTTHOLE SURFERS in downtown LA in ’87), a pantload of gtr solos, and a 100-car long boogie train. How could it ever go wrong?

Their 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th records – yes, I admit it – all had serious drawbacks. The almighty boog showcased on The Good Hex LP would’ve been compelling if it had been played by an imaginative rhythm section (it wasn’t), while Dez’ open-hearted love songs seemed at odds with Paul’s wild OffBroadwayisms found on the schizo You’re Only as Blind as Your Mind Can Be LP. The final, live Vida LP ain’t all that bad I guess, but hey . . . today we come to pay homage to their first LP. The original. The best. The one that stills stands tall with you/me today.


This Is The Dream (SST Records, 1985) far and away, tops them all. This is DC3’s choicest/most inspired collection of songs, including two tunes – “I Believe It” and “Ain’t No Time Here Now” – that the colossal 5-piece BLACK FLAG used to play regularly. But here they’re done one better: not racing hardcore but burnin’ hardrock, a bit slower/heavier and with world-weary Dez instead of manic Hank on vocals. It’s on this record that Paul’s contributions feel the most integrated, the most DC3-like; check out his great and bluesy “Twisted and Turning Inside”. It’s their best produced (by SPOT of course) and their most flowing/intuitive mix of rockin’ & sounds.

Criticisms? Really, I don’t have many. I don’t think others would’ve either, if they’d bothered to listen to it more than once back in ’86 or whenever. True, this record woulda benefited by the presence of an actual bassist, like Kira. While Paul’s left hand does do admirably, it feels a little less than grounded at points. But this is the only LP outside OVERKILL’s amazing Triumph of the Will to include Kurt Markham, one of the mightiest drummers in the entire SST extended family. Totally unlike the tight, snare-precision he demonstrated on the OVERKILL LP, here Kurt takes a loose but wide-ranging approach, channelling both the heavy AND lighter aspects of BLACK SABBATH drummer Bill Ward. He wipes himself all in/around this rec, as if attempting to get down there and into the void left by the lack of bass gtr. I coulda used a dozen different records with him playing in a dozen different styles (he’s clearly capable) – but, sadly, after this he shut out the lights on rockin’.

The vast majority of beefs levelled then/now can be distilled to the fact that egads! Dez ain’t a punker no more! He’s honestly playing heavy boogie-blues rock! The shame! The horror! This bummed out lame losers who couldn’t possibly comprehend the worth of a ROBIN TROWER LP – let alone a SAVOY BROWN rec – in ’85. But to the few who bothered (FATSO JETSON’s Mario Lalli and THE MELVINS’ Buzzo come to mind) Dez & co. were/are equated with A LITTLE BIT OF AURAL HEAVEN. We agree, we agree.

All you stoner rock dudes out there, do take note: at this stage DC3 really were vying for the KingsofSoCalHeavyRock crown with nobody else but SAINT VITUS. Yeah ok, maybe with CIRITH UNGOL too. If only Kurt had stayed in the fold . . . if only Spot had stayed in SoCal . . . if only . . . if only . . .

DC3“Ain’t No Time Here Now” (apologies for the sudden end cut)
DC3 “Twisted and Turning Inside”


5 Responses to “DC3’s Liftoff”

  1. Dave Lang October 21, 2007 at 12:28 am #


    Never actually got my hands on this album. These tracks sound a whole lot better than the the other DC3 I have, which is decidedly patchy-to-not-very-good-at-all. These are much more in the Saint Vitus vein I dig. I STILL say their version of Hawkwind’s “Psy Power” (from “Vida”) and their cover of Mountain’s “Theme From An Imaginary Western” rank as some of the finest covers EVER. I can’t blame anyone for not digging DC3 – they’re an aquired taste, to say the least – though they had their moments.

  2. Mike October 22, 2007 at 4:43 pm #

    Great, more of this old SST crap please

  3. mrowster October 22, 2007 at 5:15 pm #

    Dave: I dig those covers too, esp. “Imaginary Western” (that’s the same line-up as on This is the Dream). It’s MOUNTAIN’s coolest song ever.

    And Mike: yes, there will be much, much more SST crap. That I promise.

  4. dan July 5, 2008 at 5:53 pm #

    I just found “the good hex” yesterday. These records are weird but in some ways they embody the SST culture–people doing what they liked and putting it out there without alot of calculation. It’s like the basement grandiosity of early GBV, making its own mythology. People PLAY music cuz it is fun to be creative and share. And records like this also undercut the shaved head austerity jive of punk, which bands like Swell Maps or The Urinals never needed–just the impulse to make racket.

    When I got the first DC3 record in high school it was kind of a curveball but 5 years later hard rock was back and we were all buying Cat Butt tapes…and I have to say, your SST blog is really fun to read!

  5. mrowster July 5, 2008 at 6:12 pm #

    Dan: Thanks for reading. Sans calculation is right – Dez’ lack of pretense, coupled with a total conviction in what he was doing, is what makes all DC3 records worth exploring . . . I still regularly return to “The Good Hex” to get a whiff of that.

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