I have had to settle for listening to the UDS debut album on tape for years; finally I got smart enough to order this reissue, with the bonus live CD (more on that later). What a great album this is, still...
The Squad, formed in Utrecht (not in Amsterdam--there is more to the Netherlands than just Amsterdam) in 1987, apparently dissolved itself for the last time in 2000, after an impressive set of albums, and after leaving audiences overwhelmed all over Europe as well as a few happy places in the US (they played at the New York New Music Seminar twice, in 89 and 90). "Mental Floss" was their first album, and still one of the best on the list. Other reviewers have listed the bands influenced by them and their explosive combination of rap and rock, so I don't have to do that again--it would be nice if some of those artists would pay their dues.
Even though I think this album is fantastic, I don't consider it a perfect effort--there are true gems on it, but also a few not-so-good tunes: I've never cared much for "The Devil" or for "Big Apple." However, songs like "No Kid" (there's a real hardcore version of this semi-acoustic song out somewhere), "Fast Lane," and "Brainstorm on the UDS" more than make up for that. The Rudeboy's style has always been unique--over the top, edgy, fast--and he's backed up by a set of great musicians. Silly Sil's funky bass, welded tightly with Magic Stick's aggressive but sober drums, form a solid background for DJ DNA, a truly innovative DJ, and Tres Manos, a guitar player who was never satisfied playing in just one style (the latest from him: he plays pedal steel in a band called the Yearlings)--he ranges from howling electric to blues (like that other dude you couldn't pin down--Jimi H.).
On a sidenote: if this is one of those few Dutch records that ever did well overseas, it is due perhaps in part to other input from the low countries: Peter Te Bos, of the trendsetting (well, in Europe anyway) garage band Claw Boys Claw, did the artwork (and when is the CBC back catalog coming out on CD?); the production was done by Jean-Marie Aerts, of the Belgian band TC Matic, a guitar player who deserves much more recognition than he gets.
The live CD that accompanies this re-issue, taped in Hollywood, 1990, is nice to have. The set was rocking, as usual, but the sound quality is a bit underwhelming. The UDS had a habit of gulping down a lot of Jack Daniels and of sometimes working out their personal differences on stage--none of that seems to bother them here. They are tight, the Rudeboy plays the audience, they seem comfortable playing on a different continent. It's a pity I've only met one person as yet in the US (back in LA in the early nineties) who had heard of the UDS and liked them: they deserve more play here.
Alright--I've sung their praises long enough. If you want to know who was there at the start, who mixed it up and rocked the house for a decade, "Mental Floss" is there for you, as fresh as when it came out.