Excel - The Joke's on You (Cover Artwork)


The Joke's on You (1989)


Although lots of people have never heard of Excel, the now-defunct act is generally regarded as one of first crossover thrash bands to come out of Venice, California, along with their hometown hometown heroes Suicidal Tendencies, Beowülf and Uncle Slam, just to name a few.

Released two years after their 1987 debut Split Image, Excel showed a great deal of their genre with their sophomore album The Joke's on You, which was a moderate success. Some hailed it as the best "thrash punk" album not known by many. I was born in 1989, the year this album came out and I could honestly tell that it's hard to believe to believe that crossover thrash has still been quite popular for about over 20 years.

Well, if you're a fan of punk or thrash, I'm sure you're gonna enjoy this, but it's just too bad their albums, including The Joke's on You, are now so difficult to find. "Drive," "Shadow Winds," "Fired (You're a Fine Girl)," "Tapping Into Emotional Void" and "My Thoughts" are classics as well the Police cover "Message in a Bottle." In "Tapping Into Emotional Void," vocalist Dan Clements spits out lyrics like "I base my life like a raging flame of events that seem all to much the same / And I'm aware of my behavior / Have I realized that I'm my own savior?" and later "I ran away from my fears, I will not cry any tears / you might see that I'm right / that dream might be in sight." That song also has the resounding chorus of simply repeating the word "tapping."

The Joke's on You is a classic in any way you can (or can't) imagine. A little fast. Some shitty songs. Some decent songs. Some filler. While not sounding too drastically different from the first album, Split Image, these songs contain lethal doses of "groove" and "boogie." It's still metallic and very hard, but it's also definitely a more mature sound. These guys are all seriously talented musicians, and Randy Burns' production was spot on as always.

As a side note, you can also hear guitarist Adam Siegel's work in Infectious Grooves, which featured Suicidal Tendencies members Mike Muir and Robert Trujillo.

Again, you must own The Joke's on You. Excel's best, it's definitely a record worth owning and listening to repeatedly.