'At Action Park' is Shellac's first full-length album and it is everything that 'In Utero' and 'Surfer Rosa' should have been.
Originally released on vinyl only in 1994 on Touch & Go records, the album finds Shellac frontman and rock producer god Steve Albini at the height of his power shortly after his work on Nirvana's last studio album.
Albini's uncompromising stance on both making and recording music came to fruition on this underground classic. Ripping angular guitars, driving bass, inconsequential yet ferocious vocals and Albini's all-powerful production technique make the point that Kurt Cobain and Frank Black either held back (for commercial reasons) or simply did not have it at all.
The 10 tracks on the album all share the same short, sharp energy which means that the album has no identifiable emotional 'curve'. Instead it comes at you running from the word go until you find the cartridge of your turntable banging its head at the end of side 2 (as if its asking for more).
Musically sparse and taught, Albini's syncopated rhythms and weird time signatures creates a big empty space for the precise musicianship of rhythm section Weston and Trainer which they both fill and leave blank at the same time. And the fact that all of this gels at such a ferocious pace is reason enough to own the album.
Finally, it seems that no expense was spared in the pressing and packaging of the record and it comes pressed on premium-grade 180 gram vinyl and wrapped in a hand-assembled cardboard sleeve with silver trim.
Shellac's 'At Action Park' is the closest thing to what a record by Thelonious Monk would've sounded like if he(Monk) wanted to beat the hell out of something but did not have a piano handy. It is so good that it is almost unlistenable (for fear of setting your own house on fire).
Shellac: At Action Park
1994 / Touch & Go Records
1. My Black Ass
2. Pull The Cup
3. The Admiral
5. Song Of The Minerals
6. A Minute
7. The Idea Of North
8. Dog And Pony Show
9. Boche's Dick
10. Il Porno Star
As an aside, the album is available on CD, but vinyl is really the only medium that does it justice.