Sound — 8
Suck. A name that was lost to time only to be dug back up by reissues in the 2000's and the internet, with Shaduck Records putting out the most recent (though still difficult to attain) pressings of this South African band's sole album. Few bands would ever have the power or ferocity that Suck had in their extremely short 8 months together. Released in 1970, "Time to Suck" would prove to be their only album (excluding a cover of "War Pigs" released on a compilation in '72), and with the song "The Whip" being their only band penned song. This is not simply an album of covers however, but a reworking and re-imagining of some of the hardest rock acts as well as unlikely ones such as Donovan and Colosseum. Absolutely blasting, blazingly loud and dangerous, Suck were known as trouble makers in their home of South Africa, from starting fires, brandishing weapons onstage and bans from the government being only a handful of examples of the antics that this band participated in. In 1970, especially South Africa, the amount of push back from censors and others makes it hard to imagine how a band that pushed the boundaries of hard rock like Suck did could have been allowed to exist, but alas that is what lead to their quick demise.
Recorded over a reported 6 hour period, Time To Suck is a loud, heavy experience from beginning to end. Featuring Andrew Ionnides on vocals and flute, Stephen "Gil" Gilroy on guitar, Louis Joseph "Moose" Forer on bass and Saverio "Savvy" Grande, the skill of these four men is immediately present. With searing solos, soaring vocals and drumming that gives Bill Ward a run for his money, "Time to Suck" proves to be a "what if," if there ever was one. With a sound I would describe as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath having a rock and roll baby, the bands only original song, "The Whip" breeds extreme promise as to what they might have done in the future.
Lyrics — 8
Lyrically, being essentially a cover album I will rather focus on what the band did in their interpretations of the songs they covered. "Aimless Lady" and "21st Century Schizoid Man" are bombastic and straightforward renditions that regularly have friends wonder what is going on, as you will no doubt recognize the song when you hear it, but not in any way you've ever heard it before. This is most evident in their near 10 minute cover of Donovan's "Season of the Witch," totally taking the song from the inside out with excellent flute to add to a wispy atmosphere. Arguably the biggest stand out track however is the bonus track "War Pigs." That's right, a cover released the very year of the original Sabbath album!
Overall Impression — 10
While I must argue that hearing is believing with this band, the most common complaint I hear is the bizarre exclusion of any Led Zeppelin covers. Certainly a missed opportunity! In the end Suck occupy a corner of the heavy rock world seldom known but felt subconsciously. Although the band never got to make that original album, their renditions are possibly even better than the originals, and the sheer power of this band is still something that will blow you away once you've given it a listen. With near psychotic drumming, impressive guitar work, Geezer-esque bass and unique and powerful vocals, Suck are a band that almost never were, and thanks to re-issues and the internet, we can hear what was, and we are all certainly the better for it.