Review Revue: Prohibition - Flophouse

Well this is a tricky one. According to our DJ notes here, this album features members of some of the great ’80s Chicago noise-rock bands, Scratch Acid and Rapeman, in addition to one or two members of the Austin band Glass Eye, whom I covered in this space last year. Maybe I’m just overly tired and brain-dead, but despite this impressive pedigree, it’s very hard to find any information about this band or album. The closest I could come was a terse online factsheet about the album, which lists the brilliant David Wm. Sims (of Scratch Acid, Rapeman, and The Jesus Lizard -- so much for “members”) on bass as well as a couple members of the aforementioned Glass Eye. It also mentions a bunch of different songwriters for all of the songs, which is not what you usually see on these sorts of albums. But what does it sound like? My usual sources aren’t providing anything (no free downloads on blogs, and Spotify has two albums by a band called Prohibition, but not this album, and I have no way of knowing if it’s the same band), so I guess we’ll just have to go back in time and take these folks’ word. If you want to hear it for yourself, call your favorite KEXP DJ of today and let ‘em know!


“Very good band. Tight production. Nice dirty rock + roll voice and sounds. I bet they rock live! H. P.S. H rotation is looking pretty good itself right now!”

“Members of Scratch Acid, Rapeman (you know, ‘Steve Albini’s band’) + Glass Eye. All songs written between 1920 + 1949. [Wow! Now that discogs track list makes more sense.] For the most part boppy + poppy.”

“Still, sounds OK. Absolutely nothing like S. Acid or Rapeman.”

“This is great. Thanks for H. -F. Leyla-do-do digga digga.”

“Yeah ‘Salt of My Tears’ is wondrous.”

“Cooooooool”

“I don’t think this sounds like any of the groups. I don’t, in fact. It’s not supposed to. This is Fuckin’ Groovy Man.”

“Play 1.4. It’s... it’s... pretty!?”

“Is that a rhumba beat I hear?”

“Play this every chance you get. Of course you may not have much of a chance.”

“To say that someone was in Rapeman almost implies membership in Scratch Acid. Albini is the only guy in Rapeman not from Scratch Acid.” [Thanks, Indie Rock Comic Book Guy!]

“Time for M again. Howz about some fresh blood in H?”

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4 Comments

  1. Damon Creed
    Posted August 13, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Hey, I recognize that writing.... I never went by “Indie Rock Comic Book Guy”!!! I’ll be damned if I can remember what this record sounds like though. Sound samples aren’t an option, Levi?

  2. Levi
    Posted August 18, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Ha!

    It would be great if we had sound samples, but I certainly don’t have the time/technology to do it. Maybe there’s some hungry KEXP intern we can corral . . . but I also wonder if there wouldn’t be copyright issues up the wazoo if we started posting audio ripped from records.

  3. Frank J
    Posted September 8, 2012 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Just came across this and thought I’d fill in some gaps. I’ve got this album because my college girlfriend was into all these groups - not hard to figure since we lived at the cusp of the ’90s in Chicago & went to DePaul, just down the street from WaxTrax! records.

    While this was sold as some sort of “supergroup” album, really the biggest name was DWS. The reason it doesn’t sound like any of the groups mentioned - as well as the fact that it has “a bunch of different songwriters for all of the songs” - is that this is a covers album of prohibition-era (and beyond) songs, some standards, some (by now) obscure, updated only by virtue of re-arranging the songs for electric instruments. I’ve been listening to this for so long that it’s too far ingrained that this is something I like, which is why I still have the album & not the gf.

    Over the years I’ve looked for more info, but this is so far under the radar, even the mighty Google only returns a few hits. If you have a background with music from around the depression era, some passing familiarity with the band members, or like covers, this is good stuff. It comes off much more genuine than kitschy, as though they really decided that they liked this music enough to learn it and record it; the performances are just tight enough to groove without being so loose as to be sloppy. The recording/engineering is great, seemingly done live in the studio (perhaps something picked up from Albini.)

    Good luck finding it, though if you can, I think you’ll enjoy it.

  4. Kevin Kovelant
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    I used to play cuts from this pretty regularly on my old college radio show around the time it came out. Great album, and I’d kill for a digital copy. Pretty much as described above - covers of Prohibition-era classics as arranged for electric instruments.

    I’ve had ZERO luck finding it in any format. This blog post is one of the few successful Google hits I get mentioning it.

    Someone, somewhere, for the love of God, get this out there again.

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