Review: Triple Fast Action Are “Kickin’ Up A Rattle” Ahead of Their Triple-LP Release

Chicago’s Triple Fast Action was active between 1993 and 1998, and were part of the burst of major label signings in the wake of the seismic shifts in popular music following a little band from Seattle’s sophomore album. Only the Chicago bands in this cohort seemed more interested in making music and having fun than building careers or playing some capitalist game. Triple Fast Action put out a few singles and two albums during its lifespan, and their music was only getting stronger and sharper when they pulled the plug with a truly historic (if fuzzy to my own memory due to the celebratory vibe of that night) show at the Metro in 1998 that sent the group out on a true high note. Despite many pleas—some from me—the group has never shown interest in getting back together. It appears guitarist and singer Wes Kidd, guitarist Ronnie Schneider, bassist Kevin Tihista, and drummer Brian St. Clair are happy to let the historical record speak for itself. But luckily for all of us, Triple Fast Action has decided to embrace the impact they had, starting with the reissue in 2021 of their final album Cattlemen Don’t, with a slew of bonus tracks.

The new 3-LP collection of unreleased material is simply titled Triple Fast Action, and gathers music primarily based in their days before signing to the Majors. It’s chock full of demos, practice space recordings, and tracks from various compilations that were previously nigh impossible to track down. So it functions as a time capsule of a certain time—only this time capsule might just blow your mind when you realize how contemporary their sound remains. I guess that’s just a side effect of a band with a sound that seems familiar, but is entirely their own, and with a few decades perspective, remains classic.

The remarkable thing is that the sound Triple Fast Action excelled in—brainy but brawny, loud and abrasive but unable to pen anything other than irresistible melodies and hooks—has come back more into fashion in the indie scene in recent years, so newer listeners might never even know this is a collection from a long-defunct musical act. And I can think of no stronger endorsement for the longevity of a band’s catalog than that.

Ahead of the collection’s release tomorrow, the band is releasing one final teaser single, “Kicking’ Up A Rattle” It was recorded, produced, and mixed by the band in their practice space circa December 1994, and offers a clear blueprint for the music the band would hone and refine on their future full-length releases. Stream the song below to get a taste, and then I can’t recommend strongly enough that you snag yourself a copy of Triple Fast Action. Also, no specific spoilers here, but the vinyl does come with a secret download that brought me back in time and smeared a huge smile across my face.

Band Photo by Marci Rogal

Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Tankboy resides in the body of Jim Kopeny and lives in Mayfair with Pickle the Kitten and a beagle named Betty (RIP) who may actually be slightly more famous than most of the musicians slogging through the local scene. He's written about music for much longer than most bands you hear on the radio have even existed.