The Upper CrustImagine a band with the chops of AC/DC and the closet sense and sensibility of Kiss -- and then throw in cover art by Fragonard. That sort of gets you inside the ornate maze of the ill-mannered and well-born rocque and roll cotillion known as the Upper Crust. The Boston quartet, consisting of singer-guitarist Lord Bendover, singer-guitarist Duc D'istortion, drummer Jackie Kickassis, and singer-bassist Count Bassie, has released a pair of albums to date -- 1995's Let Them Eat Rock and 1997's The Decline and Fall of the Upper Crust -- and is embarking on a limited tour to support its first live album. With the volume nudged up to ye olde tenne, the Crust is power chording its way across the greatly taxed East Coast/Midwest in an effort to educate the masses about hard rock divinity.
Although the band has been delighting Boston audiences with its wigged-and-knee-pantsed Renaissance parlor game for five years, its studio work, a Dickensian pastiche of '70s (that's 1970s) howling mad pop metal, has garnered little support from labels, as the band loses its edgy difference the moment it steps out of the public eye and into the safe confines of a studio. So far, the Crust's two previous albums are available on two different labels (Upstart/Rounder and Emperor Norton), with no definitive word on how the new live work will be distributed. There's also some talk that the band's third studio album, Once More Into the Breeches, will remain shelved for the time being, further proof that wiggery can take an act only so far.
Still, the Upper Crust's drawing room costume comedy has remained a consistent draw in the Boston area and shows no sign of abating anytime soon. Fans can download tracks from the Breeches album (at mp3.com/uppercrust), and the band has recently contributed to the AC/DC tribute Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be. With a break or two, the live album could provide the exposure for which the band is looking. Whether or not the Crust can translate its hometown success into a broader context remains to be seen, but until then, it's content to step up to the megaphone and make Mozart seem like a stuffy prig by comparison. -- Baker