The Jesus Lizard, the band bassist David Wm. Sims and vocalist David Yow led during the ’90s, had a more interesting discography and was more influential than the duo’s prior band, Scratch Acid. But we’ll contend that Scratch Acid is a more impressive band than the Jesus Lizard.
It’s not simply that the Lizard was a successful spin-off, the Frasier of postpunk. Scratch Acid clawed its way up in the early ’80s, when the underground was genuinely subterranean. While crafting abrasive, aggressive noise rock was never the path of least resistance, to do so in the post-Kurt era of 120 Minutes and Q101 was far less bold than making filthy, dark, absurd guitar cacophonies in 1982’s minuscule punk scene, one dominated by cookie-cutter hardcore. Scratch Acid made a ridiculous racket at a time no one was asking for it. The Austin-born act took the tools of art-music—dissonance, bleakness, exploration—and infused it with bar-band energy. Humor helped. There was a Jesus Christ Superstar cover (“Damned for All Time”), left turns into funk and classic-rock riffery, and, of course, Yow’s outrageous stage persona.
Biology would argue against the temporarily reunited band being able to revive its breakneck speed and vigor of yore. Then again, we saw its breathtaking set at the 2006 Touch and Go anniversary, and marveled at Jesus Lizard gigs in 2009. Don’t be surprised when these crusty old vets rediscover that spark.