Rockabilly legends the Flesh Eaters reunite on I Used to Be Pretty | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Rockabilly legends the Flesh Eaters reunite on I Used to Be Pretty 

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click to enlarge Flesh Eaters

Flesh Eaters

Courtesy of the artist

It's been more than 38 years since the Flesh Eaters released their acclaimed second album, 1981’s A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die. But the classic version of the ragtag rockabilly group that made that recording—which included founder and front man Chris Desjardins (aka Chris D.), John Doe and DJ Bonebrake of X, Dave Alvin and Bill Bateman of the Blasters, and Steve Berlin of Los Lobos—returned to the studio last year to produce a new full-length, I Used to Be Pretty (Yep Roc). The band split up in 1983, and Desjardins spent much of the decade leading alt-country band the Divine Horsemen before resurrecting the Flesh Eaters moniker in 1990 as an outlet for his work with other musicians. The A Minute to Pray lineup briefly regrouped in 2006, but three California shows and an appearance at All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in England that year were hardly enough to do the it justice. Thankfully, I Used to Be Pretty does. The album stays true to the garage-punk spirit of the band’s early material but tightens and spices things up, with more controlled vocals from Desjardins and cleaner production that strips away the lo-fi fuzz and adding clarity to their sound. Desjardins seems to have made the most of the group’s time in the studio together by fine-tuning some previously released songs: For example having Bonebrake add marimba to "Miss Muerte” off the 2004 album of the same title and to “Pony Dress” off 1983’s A Hard Road to Follow. The album includes new highlights such as “Black Temptation," filled out with wailing saxophone solos and with backup vocals by Julie Christensen, Desjardins’s ex-wife and previous collaborator in the Divine Horsemen. Tonight’s show is a rare chance to catch the old punks together again—and I Used to Be Pretty gives us just as much reason to celebrate the band’s present as its past.   v

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