Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Suburban Voice blog #25

Finally, a couple of shows to write about, both in college environments. Hey, I’m glad it’s the school year so there are more options, once again. The headliners at both of these shows approach their music in an against-the-grain, aggressive/abrasive fashion but in different ways. At MassArt, it was first local appearance (pretty sure) of Pissed Jeans, who I wrote about in the Pointless Fest. They were one of two bands I saw play at the church down there before the fest got shut down due to stupidity. It’s a heavy sound. Usually slow and pounding, bringing a noisy early 90s vibe. Volleys of guitar feedback, a punishing rhythm and Matt’s up-front vocal presence, although not as confrontational as in Philly. They were the highpoint of the three band show, which also included Blank Stare, whose hardcore attack was lost in the shitty sound din and Benjamin’s vocals were inaudible. Last minute replacement Serious Geniuses, played pop/punk/indy rock. Enough volume to keep it somewhat interesting.

A few nights later, there was a free show at the Oxfam Cafe at Tufts, featuring Das Oath. A whirlwind hardcore sound—Mark McCoy’s high-pitched vocals at the center of a flailing, loud-fast attack. Within the cacophony, there’s a pretty basic hardcore influence and the covers of Agnostic Front and Bold bear that out. Poison Control only got to play three songs before the bass-drum head broke. The less said about Daniel Striped Tiger and Ampere the better, although the latter’s screamy hardcore a little more palatable than DST’s droney tedium.


ASS-Sink (Profane Existence, CD-EP)
A Minneapolis band that cross screamy hardcore with more melodic UK anarcho punk and it actually works. Subtle rhythms, guitar that goes from buzzing to tuneful, somber bass-lines supporting and sometimes driving the melody and from-the-gut vocals. “4 More Years,” the standout track, has a memorable melody along with angry words about what to expect from the radical christian right for, hopefully, just awhile longer—well, they’ll always force the agenda but, hopefully, it’ll eventually be insignificant, “ASSKICKATRON,” on the other hand, takes a different (and whimsical) route—chanted spelling out of the song’s title, semi-rap vocals and a party-type atmosphere. Well, sorta. (PO Box 8722, Minneapolis, MN 55408, www.profaneexistence.com)

BAMBIX-Club Matuchek (Go-Kart, CD)
Imagine Feargal Sharkey from the Undertones fronting a modern-day poppy punk band. OK, Willia van Houdt’s voice doesn’t quite reach the high register of Mr. Sharkey but that’s what I thought of and it’s not all that much of a positive. If there had been a little more grit, a harder edge from this Dutch band, it may have been more appealing. The sweetening effects in both the music (though not the completely squishy west coast sound) and the lead and backing vocals detract. (PO Box 20, New York, NY 10012, http://www.gokartrecords.com/)

BITTER END-Mind In Chains (Malfunction, CD-EP)
Harrrrrrrdcore—tough riffage, some speed and metallic leads. Definitely a NY vibe for this Houston band and a lyrical fatalism, particularly for “World Demise.” The same story—if it was just thrash, without the floor-punchin’ fodder, it’d be more palatable. (http://www.malfunctionrecords.com/)

FUCKED UP-Hidden World (Jade Tree, CD)
I had MP3s of this album some months before its release (shh.... don’t tell anyone) and had played it a number of times, trying to get a handle on it. Mainly, do I like it or not? I suppose that’s what it comes down to and it’s oneof those albums I had to really delve into, mainly due to my fondness for their previous releases. It generated mixed feelings, for sure. In short, was it brilliant? Overblown? Pushing things to a ludicrous extreme? Fucked Up are definitely a band who like to confound the listener, to mindfuck and challenge. Not so much in a musical sense, since this isn’t that big a stylistic departure, musically. Sure, there are dollops of strings and ethereal vocals, even some whistling during the fade-out of “Hidden World.” The big change is in the length of the songs. The album runs over an hour and most of the songs are over five minutes, including a remake of the earlier single “Baiting The Public.” Damian’s vocal bark hasn’t changed and they stick with the usual medium tempo. The songs are also much more melodic and accessible, yet without losing the punchiness. It’s all spread out and takes time making the musical point—the closing song, “Vivian Girls,” runs over 9 minutes. In other words, there’s bloat and perhaps some judicious self-editing would have strengthened the impact. That said, it’s a good sounding album that crackles nicely out of the speakers and provides a warm aural blanket (ugh, sorry). And, to answer the question, this opus did eventually win me over. (2310 Kennwynn Rd., Wilmington, DE 19810, http://www.jadetree.com/)

HAVE HEART-The Things We Carry (Bridge Nine, LP)
What a beautiful package—gatefold sleeve, brown and orange swirl vinyl. I wish the musical contents were as memorable. There’s a forecful nature to Have Heart’s brand of hardcore, mainly due to the loudness of the production that brings out the punch. The standard thrash/crunch/hint of melody, an urgent vocal delivery and hearty backups. As with the thrashy hardcore punk I lean towards, Have Heart’s music fits a certain mold—straight-edge, probing the meaning of life, a strength of belief. It’s always good to have strong beliefs in yourself, even with the doubts that accompany them. I just don’t find the vessel of communication that appealing, either musically or in the grim-faced delivery. (PO Box 990029, Boston, MA 02199, http://www.bridge9.com/)

HERESY-Face Up To It (Boss Tuneage, CD)/1985-’87 (Boss Tuneage, CD)
Let the bludgeoning begin—two discs of this 80s era UK hardcore band. Heresy drew quite a bit of its inspiration from my beloved MassHoles Siege—the speed and fury, at least and they also added a metallic coating (sorry to resort to bad rock critic illiteration here), at least on the earlier stuff (represented by the “1985-’87 disc). In the early days, the vocals were handled by guitarist Reevesy and they were kind of buried in the mix. Eventually, a young man named John March entered as the band’s vocalist and his chafing, gruff vocals certainly added to the fray. That disc includes their 7”, flexi, songs from the split with Concrete Sox and their first demo. “Face Up To It,” recorded in’88, was Heresy’s first album and, according to bass-player Kalv, it sounded like shite, to use their parlance but the remix they did in ’03 makes it sound not-too-bad. Relatively speaking, that is—there’s still an echo-like quality. It’s a high speed rampage throughout. Speaking of sounding like shit, the practice demos appended ontothe disc don’t add a whole lot. Truth be told, I was never that into the speed-for-speed’s-sake approach and the songs haven’t dated that well. More power than memorability. (PO Box 74, Sandy, Bedfordshire, SG19 2WB, UK, http://www.bosstuneage.com/)

HUNCHBACK-Ugly On The Outside (Freedom School, CD)
Garage/psych that really isn’t all that head-bending. “Feeling betterdotcom” begins the affair on a subdued note, but gets livelier on the second song “Respect For The Dead.” The gnashing/driving “Ride The Dying” takes things in a harder-edged direction while “Black Sunday” is decent bit of garage derivativeness. The cover of Killdozer’s “A Mother Has A Hard Road” also provides a decent head-rush. I’m less enamored of the softer “The Last Man On Earth.” A little more savageness and I wouldn’t have any reservations. As it stands, it’s a tad uneven. (http://www.thehunchback.net/)

MIKA MIKO-C.Y.S.L.A.B.F (Kill Rock Stars, CD)
Is it fair to call this the return of riot grrrl punk? Not really—Mika Miko do have the jittery, stripped down guitar sound and attitude of some of those early 90s bands but it’s probably inspired just as much by late 70s new wavish punk and post-punk, as well. A bouncy rhythmic foundation, keyboards adding a melodic element on some songs, snaky guitar lines and boisterous (sometimes dual) vocals. “The Dress” encapsulates all of those elements the best. “End Of Time,” “Don’t Shake It Off” and “Take It Serious,” meanwhile, have a more direct punk style. There’s a fresh energy here. (PMB 418, 120 State Ave. NE, Olympia, WA 98501, http://www.killrockstars.com/)

As with the band’s other records, this does hit a chord… a Lifetime/Kid Dynamite vibe here. NMDS play driving, melodic hardcore with earnest-yet-throaty vocals and it has me hooked. Lyrics expressing a good amount of dissatisfaction, whether in the protragonist’s life or society at large. The whiff of familiarity, but giving it a sense of renewal and urgency. (2310 Kennwynn Rd., Wilmington, DE 19810, http://www.jadetree.com/)

SUBHUMANS-New Dark Age Parade (Alternative Tentacles, CD)
These are the Canadian Subhumans, as opposed the UK Subhumans and it seems as though people who like one of them can’t stand the other. I actually like both of them and was curious to hear this album, their first in over 20 years, but it’s disappointing. There are three lyricists in the band—vocalist Brian “Wimpy Roy” Goble, guitarist Mike Graham and bassist Gerry “Useless” Hannah. I’m in agreement with the Subhumans’ take on world state of affairs. The songs are decently-crafted, well-played, tuneful but there’s something missing. Even on a more energetic song such as “Moving Forward,” it’s still not gripping. With bands returning to the scene after a long absence, one holds out hope it’ll be a triumphant one. Sometimes, there are pleasant surprises (Mission of Burma, The State), but this isn’t one of those instances, unfortunately. By the way, “Incorrect Thoughts,” the Subhumans’ first album, is a somewhat unheralded classic, probably best-known for the sarcastic “Slave To My Dick,” but full of heartfelt, energetic songs. Hopefully, someday, there will be a reissue of the original mix, in the correct running order and not the remixed abortion put out by CD Presents. (PO Box 419092, SF, CA 94141, http://www.alternativetentacles.com/)

SUNDAY MORNING EINSTEINS-Sanningen om Sunday Morning Einsteins (Prank, LP)
No English cheat-sheets for SME’s latest hardcore offering. You’ll have to dig out the Swedish dictionary for the translations, I suppose, although “Marching To A Different D-Beat” at least offers some insight. No insight necessary, actually. Good slam-bang hardcore punk that wrecks all in sight. Standard tuning on the guitars and I find that preferable to lower tunings you sometimes hear from the modern-day Swedish bands. And even though a D-beat is mentioned in that song, SME don’t follow the Dis-route. Also, they seldom let up on the speed, except on a few songs, so it tends to run together a bit but, still, it’s hard to go wrong with this kind of aggro. (PO Box 410892, SF, CA 94141-0892, http://www.prankrecords.com/)

TRIPLE THREAT-Into The Darkness (Bridge Nine, LP)
Wow, this wasn’t what I expected at all, given that Tim McMahon and Ed McKirdy from Mouthpiece and Hands Tied are in this band. And it’s a pleasant surprise. It’s a hard-edged, darker sound inspired by Black Flag and, especially, Bl’ast, among other bands. McMahon’s vocals remain in the shouted style, along with those types of backup vocals but it’s no youth crew effort. Medium-speed riffs give way to lurching stop/starts and back again. Triple Threat find a way to be heavy without relying on mosh-style riffing. I like the fact these guys are trying something a different instead of riding on past glories. (PO Box 990029, Boston, MA 02199, www.bridge9.com)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Suburban Voice blog #24


I imagine some of my loyal readers are curious about my take on this movie, since I was around "back in the day" and still believe that hardcore has plenty to offer, that it continues to regenerate itself. Well, in the parlance of Siskel and Ebert (and whoever Ebert works with these days), I'll give it a mild thumbs up. A recommendation with reservations. Some of my hardcore compatriots won't even go that far, completely dismissing the film out of hand--interestingly, I get that perspective more from younger folks who are actively involved in the underground/DIY hardcore scene whereas people in my age range love the trip down memory lane but, since they've long since moved on, they may not understand why the younger folk (and some of us old farts) may be offended.

Filmmaker Paul Rachman and American Hardcore author Steven Blush attempt to encapsulate a certain time frame, that being from 1980-1986 and the press kit tips its hand: "AMERICAN HARDCORE traces this lost subculture, from its early roots in 1980 to its extinction in 1986." Before reviewing the film, I have to say "what the fuck?!" Lost subculture? Extinction? Maybe to Blush and/or Rachman, it's extinct. Blush did say in his book of the same name, "As for the current hardcore renaissance, I don't wanna deny the legitimacy of today's teen angst, I just feel like, "Yo, make your own fucking music! Why just ape the music of my salad days?" I can relate to those old Jazz or Blues cats who played back when it was all about innovation rather than formula and who now see a bunch of complacent, umpteenth generation beneficiaries claiming the forms as their own. Face it, hardcore ain't the same anymore. It can still make for powerful music, but it's an over-with art form. It's relatively easy to be into now, but back then it was an entirely different story."

No, it's not the same anymore. And it's true that there's a certain amount of redundancy, repetition, predictability, ritualization etc. that is a part of the current hardcore universe. There was just as much of it back then--remember the term "generic thrash"? I don't think it's "over with" in any way, though. There are still innovative bands playing with the heart and intensity of someone discovering it for the first time and not merely "aping" what happened before. Since I still go to a ton of DIY shows and these bands are finding different ways to add that influence but still sound fresh, I'm taken aback with some of the "old guard"'s attitude. At the end of the film, Steve DePace from Flipper and Zander Schloss from the Circle Jerks (and Repo Man, probably his only claim to fame) had comments about punk sucking, etc.. They were probably meant half in jest but they're both out there playing the "punk oldies circuit." Leave that out and the movie is a time piece but, by adding it, it invalidates everything that's happened since.

They also have this "in my day" attitude--the whole "I walked barefoot through ten miles of snow to get to the gig." How the bands today with tour buses, Warped tours, etc have it soft. I wouldn't consider those the antecedents of that hardcore scene, though. The DIY community continues to thrive, beneath the radar, and these bands hardly have it soft, playing for gas money, sleeping on floors. I don't think the bands who sleep on the floor in our house, usually arriving in a mechanically-hampered van would agree with that assessment. But due props to those early 80s bands for being the trailblazers and doing it without the internet. Hmm... maybe it IS a little easier now.

I suppose I should discuss the film's contents--plenty of talking heads, including Henry Rollins, Keith Morris, Ian MacKaye, Greg Ginn, Vic Bondi from Articles of Faith, Dave Dictor from MDC, HR, Dr. Know and Darryl from Bad Brains and such Bostonians as Springa and the other members of SSD, Dave Smalley and Jon Anastas of DYS. It's a rush of clips, most of them short, a lot of them not always the best quality. The film seems to focus in on Bad Brains, Black Flag and Minor Threat, which makes sense since each were hugely influential. Bondi seems to represent the political/social conscience end of the hardcore spectrum and talks about what fueled the anger, while doing so in an overly intellectualized fashion. Dictor goes more to the heart of the matter, talking about flying the freak flag, being out-of-step not only with society but with certain elements of the hardcore scene. Different "regional scenes" are covered and the straight-edge movement is touched upon, as well.

There are some humorous moments in the film, both intentional and unintentional. Hank Williams III and Phil Anselmo offer a few incoherent words of wisdom. The backdrop of the interview with HR from Bad Brains is a wedding reception, where you can see the bride and other guests passing by in the background. Dr. Know explains that the Brains' upbeat Positive Mental Attitude came from a book called "Think and Grow Rich"--you can probably still see commercials for that book on late night TV. Jack Grisham from TSOL is hilarious, with his tales of debauchery, although he mentions raping women and some people picked up on that more than I did.

Some nitpicking... I find it odd that, in the intro to his book, Blush mentions the importance of Dead Kennedys but they're not a part of the film. Is this by design or, perhaps, Blush couldn't get clearance for their footage or perhaps Biafra and the other DKs weren't willing to cooperate? I also wish they'd shown more than a few seconds of each song and not dubbed the recorded versions over the footage. Just a few seconds of the Big Boys? Blush should have talked to Tim Kerr or Biscuit (if it was filmed before his passing) because their interpretation of hardcore had a wider, more welcoming scope.

The communal/community aspect of hardcore seems to be understated. One of the best things about hardcore was connecting with people around the country, with old fashioned correspondence by mail. You'd look through Maximum Rock 'n Roll or Flipside for the reviews, seeing what gems to mailorder, or through the classifieds, trying to find new pen-pals to exchange flyers, records, etc. Zines, in particular, get short shrift. They were an important factor in the spread of hardcore in that pre-internet era and Blush should have spoken with a zine editor or two.

It certainly wasn't all peaches and cream--it was rough, raw and visceral a lot of the time. It wasn't one big cuddly group hug by any stretch of the imagination. Violence was certainly a part of it, particularly in Southern California. But it was more about the music, an expression of frustration at ones own life and society at large, at least to me, and that didn't necessarily have to be expressed in a violent fashion. I do think American Hardcore does capture SOME of the essence and it should be viewed as one person's take and not the last word. Ultimately, I thought it was entertaining, if somewhat disjointed and flawed.


That's right--two more Clash items, one of which is a repackaging of sorts and the other something that hasn't been available in the US. In their inexhaustible quest to continue issuing Clash material, Sony have come up a singles box set (The Singles), which does seem like a cool premise if you're a diehard collector or completist. I got a 4 CD promo that includes all the tracks and a press It’s packaged (jesus, I sound like a commercial here) in a box with either vinyl singles or CD singles that add on bonus tracks. The CD version I have is pretty awesome—19 single CD’s with a reproduction of the artwork and there’s a booklet with testimonials from such "luminaries" as Shane McGowan, Steve Jones from the Pistols, Bernard Sumner from Joy Division/New Order, Clash manager Bernie Rhodes, etc--each offers a reminiscence of one of the singles.

With the Clash, the later material, starting with "Sandinista," was widely disparate and the endless remixes aren pretty much non-essential. One definitely doesn't need 3 mixes of the "Magnificent Seven," along with a single edit. And a lot of that later material doesn't hold up too well, although the Clash could still come up with a stunning song from time to time--"Straight To Hell," for instance. The less said about the three songs from the Mick Jones-less "This Is England" EP, the better. It's the early and mid-period stuff, though, that stands up. And it's not just primo punk, including such tasty b-sides as "City Of The Dead," "The Prisoner" or "Pressure Drop." They also nailed it with some of the reggae jams--the Mikey Dread-produced "Bankrobber" and "Armagidion Time," the flip of "London Calling."

The previously-unavailable item is the first DVD release of the Rude Boy film from 1980. I remember the running line back then was you should see it for the live Clash footage and not so much for the storyline. It tells the tale of a ne'er-do-well named Ray (Ray Gange) who seems to be aimlessly floundering through life. It's obvious he lives for punk rock--it's doubtlessly more satisfying than his day job working in a porno shop (while being on the dole, as well). Ray eventually hooks up with the Clash and becomes a roadie.

Despite the band's leftist political stance, including playing a Rock Against Racism benefit, Ray seems more enamored of the Tories than Labour, more right than left. One of his friends, a skinhead, can be seen tearing down anti-National Front posters while he and Ray play pool and they seem to agree that the leftists are cowards. There's an interesting conversation between Ray and Joe Strummer in a pub where Strummer explains that the reason the leftist viewpoint is preferable is because it's not "the many slaving for the few." Ray counters that he wants to be one of "the few," he wants wealth, to become rich. Yet, he works with the Clash.

Even with it being a fictionalized account involving real life characters, Rude Boy does attempt to capture a certain time, as did American Hardcore. One difference, of course, is Rude Boy is a product of its time, as opposed to a reminiscence. Of course, that's the ascension of the Clash, along with the ascension of Margaret Thatcher in 1979. In fact, the last scene is when she arrives at 10 Downing Street to begin her term as Prime Minister. There's economic dismay, racial conflict, police abuses, the SUS law--not only are people of color affected but members of the Clash and Ray himself get "nicked," as they say in the UK. Ultimately, Ray ends up back where he started--wondering what's next. Wandering off in the darkness.

As mentioned earlier, the attraction is the live material, all of it from 1978 and the DVD is set up so you can just watch the musical performances. Which are stellar--the Clash at the top of their game. There are also a few extra live clips of "English Civil War" and "White Riot" and, as bonus material, a current-day interview with Gange, road manager Johnny Green and the filmmakers. Not a theatrical masterpiece but worth watching the movie once, then you can go back to the live performances.

CAUSTIC CHRIST-Lycanthropy (Havoc, LP)
Heavy and ugly. Caustic Christ are back with their second album. The Scandinavian influence remains a central part of the sound, without following the Dis-formula. Instead of following the predictable pattern of beginning with one of their faster songs, “The Caustic Curse” is a stop ‘n start dose of heaviness. This is followed by the ever-timely “Doesn’t Anyone Want To Impress Jodie Foster Anymore?” and if you don’t quite get the premise, a certain Mr. Hinckley not only had a vision (thank you, Feederz) but wanted to impress Ms. Foster when he shot Ronald Reagan. Much like Reagan was the target in the 80s, Bush is the target of derision now. Plenty of raging material along the way—the hit and run “Frustration,” “Medicated” and “Cold” and the slightly more moderately-paced “Public Service.” The last track, “Standing In A Circle... The Ballad Of Ukla Von Oopenstein,” is a Flag-ish instrumental. I prefer their first album slightly more but “Lycanthropy” has a high-enough bash quotient to keep ‘ya happy. (PO Box 8585, Minneapolis, MN 55408, http://www.havocrex.com/)

DESTRUCTION UNIT-Death To The Old Flesh (Empty, CD)
Reatards and Lost Sounds cross-pollination once again, on this album, recorded in 2004. This is ostensibly a solo project for Ryan from the ‘tards but he gets help from Jay Reatard and Alicja Trout. A tandem of raw, aggressive synth/guitar punk rock. To call it new wave would be inaccurate—it’s too intense to fall into that realm. Smashing and slamming hard and the cover of the Normal’s “Warm Leatherette,” given a harder, faster edge, fits in well with Ryan’s vision. (PO Box 12301, Portland, OR 97212, http://www.emptyrecords.com/)

KUNGFU RICK-Fragments Of The Past Time (625, dbl. CD)
Two discs of wanton grind and heaviness. A double-disc complete anthology. Kungfu Rick were a tight band and navigate the tempo shifts successfully but that’s not enough to prevent it from becoming numbing after awhile. I imagine it’s a simplistic take on things but one can only take so many blastbeats and electrode-on-testicles meet lower register tradeoffs between the two gentlemen manning the mikes. I will say it’s not one-dimensional and at the more traditional thrash speeds and metallic buildups, the songs have a better effect. As always, it depends on how much grindin’ you want. It’s above average for that approach. By the way, one of the flyers in the booklet reveals they opened for Wesley Willis. Now THAT’S an intriguing combination. (http://www.625thrash.com/)

PARASITES-Retro-Pop Remasters (Go Kart, CD)
I can’t believe it’s around 15 years since I first heard this band—that was back when Dave Parasite was using the first name Nikki. A multitude of members have come and gone but it’s always been about the pop-punk. I mean that in the purest sense of the word. A compilation from various releases over the years, all remastered, blah blah blah. Plus a guest appearance at the end from the one and only Rev. Nørb taking on Handsome Dick Manitobot (don’t ask), followed by one last coda. Sure the singing is sweet and harmonic; sure, the lyrics are heart-on-sleeve. Sure, this is less hard-edged than what I listen to these days but, within a few minutes, about the time “Ronnie Is A Psycho” began, I remembered how catchy these songs are. (PO Box 20, Prince Street Station, NY, NY 10012, http://www.gokartrecords.com/)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Suburban Voice blog #23


It’s funny—I was out on my daily walk today and, as usual, had my trusty MP3 player and headphones with me. Suddenly, I had to urge to hear Iggy & The Stooges’ “I Got A Right.” The Stooges, of course, have a lot of classic songs, both with the original lineup and the later, James Williamson-on-guitar grouping. In fact, “Raw Power” is one of my all-time favorite albums. I’ve told the story many times about how I got this album in the summer of ’76 so I’ll skip that segment for once. If you want to read it, my June 21 blog entry on MySpace has the whole story.

So, yeah, “I Got A Right.” I can’t believe this was an outtake from “Raw Power.” This song was recorded in July of 1972. It starts with a big fanfare, then Williamson’s razor guitar kicks in, along with Iggy’s unhinged vocal, starting with a primal yell. The tempo is fast and furious—not hardcore speed but I’d describe it as mid-to-fast in current parlance. There’s a searing guitar break in the middle and then that fucking riff comes back.

As I’m chugging along Lynn Shore Drive, that song pumping through my brain, I’m thinking “this is punk rock”—the guitar sound, the tempo, the fuckin’ BURN. From Nineteen-Fucking-Seventy-Two. This was the year I was still digging “Who’s Next” (nothing wrong with that, of course) and getting such singles as “Small Beginnings” by Flash, “Go All The Way” by the Rapberries and “Long Cool Woman” by the Hollies. “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper came out just before I finished grade school and I got that 45, too. “Hold Your Head Up” by Argent was a big summer hit and also connected with me, but I didn’t get the single until sometime after.

Those songs sound like they belonged in 1972, though. Etched into that time, maybe because they’re etched into my memory banks. Still, “I Got A Right” sure doesn’t feel like it’s a part of that time. As it turns out, the single (backed with another outtake, the shakin’ “Gimme Some Skin,”) wasn’t even issued until 1977 and under the name “Iggy Pop/James Williamson” on Revenge Records. While googling (shut up pervert) on the ‘net, looking for various info on the single, I found Chris D.’s review in issue #3 of the infamous Slash magazine: “‘I got a right' has to be the most violently crazed ditty anyone's ever kicked ass to (and that goes for most previous Stooges material too). This song is so unimaginably violent, yet simultaneously poignant and tear-jerking, that it takes a few listens to believe one's ears. There really aren't adjectives to describe the beautiful abandon here . . . all stops out quite literally and nothing left to lose.”

I first heard it in the fall of ’77—probably on the Salem State station WMWM and I taped it. It may have even been Paul Greenberg’s radio show—as I’ve said before, “Greeny” was the guy who got me into punk rock. I think I heard “I Wanna Be Your Dog” a bit after that one, so this was my first exposure to anything outside of “Raw Power.” Well, for the Stooges—I probably heard some of the first two solo records but they didn’t make much of an impression.

The song has been reissued a multitude of times—it seems as though every note Iggy recorded back then has been dredged up and released by Bomp Records. There’s a CD single with “I Got A Right” that has 7 takes and a live version, plus two versions of “Gimme Some Skin.” The best of these collections is probably “The Year Of The Iguana,” since that includes the most listenable of the odds and ends. There’s also a 7” reissue with a picture sleeve.

The greatness of this song isn’t a newsflash to most people reading this entry, I’m sure. It’s stating the obvious. Iggy is obviously a pioneering figure in the history of punk. But, after 29 years, when I hear the opening chords of “I Got A Right,” it’s mandatory I turn it up good and fucking loud...


CAREER SUICIDE-Anthology Of Releases: 2004-2005 (Deranged, CD)
I would guess most readers here know how much I love this band. If not or you haven’t heard them, get with the program! This is hardcore, it’s punk fuckin’ rock, it’s rockin’ fuckin’ punk and, at the center, Martin Farkas rants away. Leading off with a pair of unreleased songs and two more later on—“The Last Stay” is a rousing entry to this collection. 20 seconds in, Martin gives out a primal yell and it’s off we go. The disc includes their split LP with Jed Whitey, the “Signals” EP and the “Invisible Eyes” 12”. Most of the time is spent thrashing, but then they’ll come up the pure ’77 KBD dumbo punk of “Bored Bored Bored” but it ain’t that dumb. They capture the same feel for “There’s Something Wrong With You.” I think the reason Career Suicide are such a good band is because they understand the history of the music they’re playing and draw what they love from those influences. I’d guess (in fact, I know) that they’re record geeks. The New Bomb Turks are also record geeks and knew how to mix everything into an ass-kicking sound that’s more than the sum of its parts. Same here. This kind of music shouldn’t be overproduced, it should be rough-sounding and, most of all, it should be catchy AND fun. That’s why it works so well. (http://www.derangedrecords.com/)

CHANNELS-Waiting For The Next End Of The World (Dischord, CD)
The latest project for J. Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines) and not as jabbing or electrifying as his earlier bands. Actually, the band he did with Vic Bondi, Report Suspious Activity, had a lot more brawn to it. Here, J. is in a three-piece lineup again, with bassist Janet Morgan and drummer Darren Zentek. Rock that has a strong rhythmic base (that’s the main focus) underneath mainly melodic arrangements, with a dollop of post-punk. It increases the volume and perks up from time to time and you can hear echoes of those older bands—I mean, the vocals and guitar sound are the same, just not always as gripping. For instance, on “Mayday,” it starts with a cool Gang of Four-ish guitar jiggle and has a near-edginess yet holds back and doesn’t completely push the envelope. “Chivaree” and “$99.99” have the same set-up—fiery sounds but also tempered a bit. I imagine that’s the balance they’re looking for and Channels entice on occasion but not consistently enough. (3819 Beecher St. NW, Washington, DC 20007, http://www.dischord.com/)

CHRONIC SEIZURE-s/t (Fashionable Idiots, 7” EP)
Four more hot slabs on this platter—hey, I’m hep with the boss lingo, here. OK—in English now. Another enjoyable effort from these Chicagoans who play straight-forward, catchy hardcore punk. The production brings out the band’s sound without either being too primitive or over-produced. If you haven’t heard this band yet, what are you waitin’ for? (PO Box 580131, Minneapolis, MN 55458, http://www.fashionableidiots.com/)

LIFETIME-Somewhere In The Swamps Of Jersey (Jade Tree, 2xCD)
Two full discs worth of EPs, comp tracks, their “Background,” live stuff and unreleased mixes. You get the idea. And after listening to this collection, I’ve reached the conclusion that Lifetime weren’t all that great a band. One of those classic good live/not so great on record bands. Melodic/emo-laden punk from the early to mid 90s and it has a real whiny quality to it. Yearning vocals and, although some of the songs have drive, it’s not gripping and many of the songs have a slower-tempo lethargy.. Also, the production for “Background” is miserable, with echo-y sounding drums. Same for the live songs—I saw them play a few good shows in the middle part of the decade but this performance, from ’92, isn’t all that electrifying. Guitarist Dan Yemin’s post-Lifetime bands, Kid Dynamite and Paint It Black, are a lot better—Kid Dynamite maintained the melodic aspects but had a lot more energy and Paint It Black is just full-on burn. One of those bands from the 90s I’ve left behind. (2310 Kennwyn Rd., Wilmington, DE 19810, http://www.jadetree.com/)

ORIGINAL THREE-Been Dealt A Losing Hand (Empty, CD)
Memphis low-down dirty blues/garage—by way of New Orleans (I wonder if they moved after Katrina?). With help from Jay Reatard and Alicja Trout, that should give you a pretty good idea of what the Original Three are all about. Recorded at different sessions (all of it primitive-sounding but not ridiculously low-fi) and hit and miss at times. Still, the likes of “Scene” and the shakin’ groove of “This Is The Way I’m Walking” are dead-on. (PO Box 12301, Portland, OR 97212, http://www.emptyrecords.com/)

SPERMBIRDS-Something To Prove/Nothing Is Easy (Rookie/Boss Tuneage, CD)
A former American serviceman fronted a band of Germans—that’s the Spermbirds and their first two albums, plus a few extra tracks, are packaged here. A late 80s band that embraced thrash, along with poppier/melodic influences and that was fairly commonplace during that time frame. Hardcore bands were either going heavier or catching a little of the mid-80s DC bug and going in the direction. Unfortunately, not a ton of this has aged particularly well. First off, “What A Bitch Is” is just dumb. The band’s best song remains “You’re Not A Punk,” with an irresistable guitar line and some killer hooks. “Another Dead Friendship” has a similar effect. The more tuneful material is strongest here—relatively speaking. When the Spermbirds attempt to thrash out, it comes across as tepid. I definitely liked this a lot more then than I do now. (PO Box 74, Sandy, Bedfordshire SG19 2WB, UK, http://www.bosstuneage.com/)

TOTAL CHAOS-Freedom Kills (SOS, CD)
The latest from Total Chaos is a litany of criticism against the current state of affairs in America, starting with a dramatized announcement, “SOS America,” imagining the declaration of martial law. Observations about the conflict in Iraq and other “system” abuses. Pretty obvious targets, spelled out in black and white and the booklet includes essays about these issues. I can’t say I disagree with their take on things, either, even with the agitprop trappings.Musically, Total Chaos retain their mainly fast, aggressive punk sound along with a few street punk turns, especially for “Another Boot Party” and the umpteenth cover of Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”. They also cover the Misfits’ “Attitude” to provide a respite from the heavier lyrical matter. Rob’s hoarse vocals almost veer towards overkill yet do effectively convey his outrage. A loud, spiked and studded musical state of the union address. (PO Box 3017, Corona, CA 92878-3017, http://www.sosrecords.us/)

UNDER PRESSURE-Come Clean (Yellowdog, CD)
“Come Clean” is even more diverse than Under Pressure’s recent self-titled disc. Some of the songs were recorded around the same time as that one and some more recently. There’s an increase in melody in spots and a variation of tempos and styles. “I Explode” is grinding and heavy, throwing in some atonal saxophones and it doesn’t devolve into pretentiousness. “Muddy Water” takes from the Wipers’ somberness a bit. Meanwhile, there’s no missing the speed/rage of “One In One.” A dark power. (PO Box 550209, 10372 Berlin, GERMANY, www.yellowdog.de)