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Raw Power

Friction is one of those bands that seem to have had more of an effect on other bands than they had on the public. Formed in the late 70s in Tokyo, the group was led by bassist/vocalist Reck, a devotee of what passed for garage rock in those days, namely bluesy punk that didn't eschew guitar flash but didn't really need it either.

The band went through personnel changes seemingly every week during the 80s and released only four albums over a 20-year period, two of which were live collections. Obviously, not the most prolific band in the world, Friction nevertheless remained true to its greasy, minimalist creed; or, more exactly, Reck remained true to it since he was the only constant in the group. As a live act, he/they were legends, and had a huge influence on 90s bands like Thee Michelle Gun Elephant and Blanky Jet City, indie outfits who pretty much adapted Friction's sound directly and turned it into the kind of stuff that could fill arenas.

Several years ago Reck reformed Friction by basically hiring former Blanky Jet City drummer Tatsuya Nakamura to bang away behind him. For only two guys, however, Friction mounts a mighty roar, mainly because Reck is not only the kind of vocalist who never wastes a grunt or an aside, but because he plays the bass like a guitar. The duo's new EP, "Deepers," contains three amazingly visceral covers--the Stooges' "Raw Power," the Stones' "You Got Me Rocking," and Hendrix's "Fire"--but it's the two original tunes that show what Reck can do better than anyone, which is take a simple blues-rock riff and tease out all the possibilities until there's nothing left. He leaves the audience pretty wasted as well.