Brute Force

Brute Force is a Lost in the Grooves artist. Click to sample the music or purchase the songs "Hunger For Your Anger," "Franchise Guy," "Ray Gun" or "Extremist Polka."

I, Brute Force
Confections of Love
(Columbia, 1967)

Brute Force is Stephen Friedland, still actively plying his trade as one of America’s great linguistic tricksters. In the mid-sixties, he adopted the nom de plume Brute Force for musical activities including a long association with the Tokens, composition of the Chiffons’ existential psych masterpiece “Nobody Knows What’s Goin’ On (In My Mind But Me)” and this giddy treasure, inventively produced by John Simon.

Brute Force’s teeming brain absorbed the clichés that fed Pop’s hungry maw, spun them around at 62 zillion feet per second, then spat them back out in juicy recombinant strands.

No sixties rock ‘n’ roll freak can fail to be elated by Brute’s vamp on exaggerated love-sick lyrics, “Tapeworm of Love,” or “In Jim’s Garage,” which takes the class division subtext of the girl group genre and runs amok: “He may be greasy and dirty/ But that’s just a mark of his honesty/ And she loves him/ She loves that Jim.” Brute slides all over his tonsils emoting Latin lunacy on “Tierra del Fuego,” before convincingly suggesting the pinnacle of civilization might be “To Sit on a Sandwich.” A year later he took direct performative action, attempting to swim the Bering Strait to unite the US and Russia.

Friedland calls his music “heavy funny,” and the wonder is how perfectly balanced the two halves are. As demented as a Brute Force song can be, there’s always an underlying germ of philosophy, a point to the exercise. A couple years later, George Harrison heard Brute’s sly “King of Fuh,” added strings and put it out on Apple, but Capitol/EMI squashed the suggestive song, which became the rarest Apple release. Today Brute Force performs frequently at music and comedy venues in the New York area, and recently toured England in support of the reissue of his second album, Extemporaneous. (Kim Cooper)