Record Review - 1 August 14 2003

The death of Black Lips guitarist Ben Eberbaugh left a permanent scar on Atlanta’s underground rock community. With Ben Eberbaugh: A Rockin’ Tribute, the scene is turning the tragedy into something positive by rallying everyone from Atlanta/Athens locals Jet By Day to indie rock luminary J. Mascis for a compilation made in Eberbaugh’s honor.

From the onset of the Black Lips’ “Throw It Away” to the Spooks’ untitled finale, these recordings document what a close-knit bunch of bands can do with a lot of ambition and not much of a budget.

Tilly and the Wall’s “Nights of the Living Dead” is a Partridge Family-esque number about teenage debauchery at a North Avenue gas station that counters the unchecked aggression of the Carbonas’ “She’s A Heater.” But as poignant as the eclectic music of artists comes across, what’s most affecting is that Eberbaugh himself is heard on songs from pre-Black Lips groups, the Blastoffs and the Renegades. And if hearing his husky voice and fuzzy chops once again isn’t uplifting enough, Some Soviet Station sears through its last unreleased song, “Stand All in the Sands of Dying.” It’s a gritty dirge that resonates with more than historical significance. It’s a profound homage that takes one last look at the tempestuous past before moving forward.

Eberbaugh was a truly elemental figure in the community gathered here to remember him. The passion and reverence with which these songs are delivered is a true testament to his talent.