Armand Schaubroeck Steals - Ratfucker
Armand Schaubroeck Steals are an extremely unknown rock band just waiting to be rediscovered and reissued by the right people. Led by Armand Schaubroeck, a man convicted of theft and possibly statutory rape (as his records would have you believe) at a young age, he was sent to juvenile and then adult prison for a number of years, before being released and starting a guitar shop business that soon made him a millionaire. Freed from financial constraints, his perhaps exaggerated obsessions with his (Catholic and otherwise) guilt and incarceration soon found an outlet in the extremely disturbed music he created in the guise of Armand Schaubroeck Steals. From around 1974 to around 1978 he released five albums and a handful of singles before disappearing into the rock and roll ether. They range from the interesting to the near perfect. The first, the triple LP A Lot Of People Would Like To See Armand Schaubroeck...DEAD! is a sublime masterwork in which Armand describes his young life, imprisonment and release, interspersing spoken word passages with songs in a wonderful theatrical style that impressed Andy Warhol so much that he considered turning it into a film. This is probably Armand's best work and somewhat of a lost masterpiece of theatrical rock.
He followed it up with I Came To Visit But Decided To Stay, another concept album, but this time focussing on a priest's obsession with a nun which disturbingly continues after her death. Although interesting, it doesn't beat it's predecessor or it's followup, the absolutely tremendous Ratfucker. Every track on Fucker is a nasty obscene chunk of pop genius. Musically it's probably close to the nastier sides of Lou Reed's catalogue mixed with the anger of Iggy Pop, but neither of them either made anything quite so deranged or absurd. Every song is filled with obscenity, as Armand take on the guise of yet another sick and twisted character and makes each of them more disgusting than the other, all the while managing to tie in enough pop hooks to make it a stupidly catchy listening experience. Gospel choirs and horn sections highlight the lives of his protagonists as they pimp women, men, themselves and steal, lie and cheat everyone they meet. It's just far too much fun to have been forgotten for so long. Even Armand seems to be in on the joke; hear how his voice almost cracks into laughter during the screams of "THIS IS MY FUCKING BLOCK!" on the title track. He's like a crack addicted Jonathan Richman, taking the best of rock and roll and putting it through a sieve so dirty that it's almost unrecognisable as pop music. Think The Birthday Party, think The Gun Club, think every sick and dirty rock and roll buffoon and multiply them by a hundred.
Armand would release two more LPs, a live record in which he dubbed Beatles-on-Ed-Sullivan style screaming girl audiences between live re-recordings of older songs, and Shakin Shakin, maybe his worst record but certainly still a lot of fun. After this Armand settled into his business and has remained mostly silent ever since. As all of these records recieved an extremely limited release and have never been reissued, they're VERY hard to get and that's part of the reason why I'm breaking one of my own rules by uploading a full album for you. God knows the only way these sort of forgotten classics do get release is by people making a noise about them. And then we can get the ATP folks to bother Armand and get him to come sing this stuff live for us!
I stumbled upon his music through a rather intriguing article on the Unsung section of Julian Cope's fantastic website. Copey has something of a knack for rediscovering unknown gems and writing about them in a way that makes them sound like something you HAVE to have in your life, and although the music doesn't always live up to the standards set by his always excitable writing style, thankfully A.S.S. don't really suffer from this. You can get more info at this great website or in another article from Perfect Sound Forever, and I really do recommend that you read those because they got there before me and gave far more of the back story, which is a great one. But really the best thing is probably to just listen. Listen, as loud as possible, play it to your friends and give it its dues, because this stuff is too much fun to be forgotten! Enjoy!
Armand Schaubroeck Steals - 01 Ratfucker
Armand Schaubroeck Steals - 02 Gigolo, Gigolo
Armand Schaubroeck Steals - 03 I Love Me More Than You
Armand Schaubroeck Steals - 04 Buried Alive
Armand Schaubroeck Steals - 05 The Independent Hitter
Armand Schaubroeck Steals - 06 Preteen Mama
Armand Schaubroeck Steals - 07 The Queen Hitter