The dichotomy of Leftover Crack has always been interesting. On one hand, there's Stza Crack who epitomizes the nihilistic punk, constantly trying to destroy himself with chemicals, depression, and poor hygiene, yet never actually succeeding. On the other hand, there's Ezra, who epitomizes the virtuosic punk, announcing broad proclamations, championing the little guy, and unwavering in stern defiance. And with the addition of Brad Logan, formerly of the nasty wasty F-minus, the dichotomy becomes a trichotomy, now hosting the practical punk, who tours incessantly, makes concessions if it's in the band's best interest, and fuels his music through an unapologetic DIY lifestyle.
With the three distinct personalities seemingly traveling in separate directions, it would seem that Leftover Crack would collapse the moment it came into existence. But amazingly, with the three forces bolting away from each other, each one anchors the other two from traveling too far, creating one heck of an interesting band.
That's why, when we get an unfiltered dose of just one of the members, it usually winds up being powerful, direct and devoid of concession. And with Morning Glory's first and only LP to date, This Is No Time ta Sleep, we get just that: Ezra's singular vision of how the world is and how it ought to be.
For those of you just getting into the Crack Rock Steady Beat, the spider web of bands can be confusing. So, here's a short and possibly incorrect history: In 1990, Scott Sturgeon (Stza Crack) formed No Commercial Value with Alec Baillie. This band imploded and Stza formed Choking Victim. Eventually, CV came to include Ezra in its ranks. CV broke up on the first day of recording their first LP. Two bands formed from the break-up of CV: Stza formed Leftover Crack; Ezra and Skwert, CV's drummer, formed INDK. Eventually, INDK broke up and Ezra joined LoC. Near the end of INDK Ezra created a side project called Morning Glory, which was composed of Ezra and about 20 or so other people who appeared on the recordings at different times. Later on, Brad Logan of F-Minus joined LoC after F-Minus disbanded. Whew! I think that's almost right.
This Is No Time ta Sleep was home-recorded and self-released by Ezra. Despite its humble beginnings, the album sounds like it was made in a professional studio. As with his LoC-penned songs, Ezra keeps a very melodic flow in his Morning Glory output. However, just because the songs are nice to listen to doesn't mean they don't have an edge to them, both sonically and lyrically.
The album starts with a soaring song that declares with "Things are gonna get better." Despite that being the first song, Ezra doesn't mean right now. The first track segues into an early version of "So Ya Wanna Be a Cop?," later covered by LoC. The anti-police messaging and confrontational lyrics which LoC has built its vibe upon checks in with a solemn ferocity. Ezra laments police brutality at the same time as threatening to shoot police officers. An interesting contradiction in every sense.
For most of the album, Ezra maintains a soaring texture with his almost Bruce Dickinson-like voice and melodic riffs. This means that when Morning Glory does decide to get down and dirty, the songs sound extra rough. The early version of "Gang Control" is almost as menacing as the NWA song from which it borrows its refrain, and it positions it over a menacing ska beat and snapping drums. Popeye, who fans will recognize from the CV song "Crack Rock Steady," puts a sandpaper edge to the words. When Ezra steps back from the mic on "Return of tha Bomb" to let rapper Redrum tear it up over a Limp Bizkit-like riff, he somehow miraculously not only makes it not suck, but be one of the best rap/rock combos next to "Sabotage."
While the songs feature a kaleidoscope of vocal variety, from both Stza and a score of other singers, the tempos of many of the songs tend to be similar. This speedy tempo was probably used to stress the urgency of Ezra's messages. Unfortunately, sometimes this also makes the messages blur together and difficult to separate. But, when the album does slow its tempo to press a feeling, the result comes through in spades. When the acoustic "The War Is Over" flows in after a moment of silence, its quietness is louder than most hardcore albums. But, then again, when the band is loud and fast, they totally blow the place out, too.
Throughout the album, Ezra employs the use of sound effects such as bombs dropping, air raid sirens, and machine guns blazing, just like a Public Enemy album. And just like a Public Enemy album, these sound effects which head and cap the songs give that extra support to the songs, highlighting just what might be on the political horizon and what already is. And of course, those jonesing for some LoC stylings will be skanking it up to the "So Ya Wanna Be a Cop?" reprise, which features Stza and Ezra going head to head on vocal duties, battling and supporting each other for mic control.
Unfortunately, This Is No Time ta Sleep is a very hard album to find. Ezra released it in very limited quantities, so if you're lucky enough to find a hard copy, it'll probably cost you a bundle. The other sources for the album are file sharing programs which usually have the tracks circulating around (a method the band usually endorses). But, a hard copy outlining the many people who preformed on the various tracks sure would be nice. Maybe we can convince Brad Logan to release it on his label, Blacknoise Records?
So, is Morning Glory better or worse than LoC? The answer: Yes, it is. Unadulterated Ezra commanding the controls creates a vivid soundscape, but doesn't quite have the variety of LoC. But, that's not such a bad thing as Ezra's singular view is pretty complex, definitely making it a good hit for Crack Rock Steady fans.
P.S. I mean "Nasty Wasty" in its most complimentary form.