Reviews

MRR #1 • July/August 1982

100 Flowers Presence of Mind EP

I read that the URINALS decided to change their name so they could get gigs, but apparently it also signaled a change of musical direction. Only the speedy “Dyslexia” reminds one at all of the old URINALS on this EP: the others are examples of their slower neo-psychedelic approach. Personally, I’d prefer the return of the greatest garage band in the world, but then what do I know?

Anti-Establishment Future Girl / No Trust 7″

Standard UK punk, slow and passionless. “Future Girl” has a unique intro and  cool ’60s guitar break, but on the whole this effort isn’t as strong as their 1980’s debut. The vocals sound like Gene October of Chelsea.

Anti-Nowhere League I Hate People / Let’s Break the Law 7″

Reactionary bikers posing as punks put out a second heavy metal 45 as pathetic as their first. All the record industry hype and rich backers in the world won’t make these do-dos popular unless punks have become as undiscriminating as conventional rock fans.

Anti-Pasti East to the West / Burn in Your Own Flames 7″

Another excruciatingly boring release from this overrated band. Their attack is a slow-motion one, and I can hardly stay awake till its conclusion. The wimpy pop sound on this 45 makes it even worse than their usual offerings.

Beaver Trendy EP

A new 10-song EP from the DC area. Half of it is the standard DC thrash—pretty good but not outstanding. The other half consists of short bursts of concentrated noise with a stop/start arrangement, sort of like the MINUTEMEN. Mail away for it, because you probably won’t find it in the stores.

Black Humor Love God, Love One Another LP

These guys are some sort of SF studio concoction, and they are lunatics. They swing from music for nightmares to rhythmic jungle rock. Recommended for the flexible. Check out their individually designed sleeves and enclosed worms!

Blitz Never Surrender / Razors in the Night 7″

The best of the “skunk” bands comes up with a second terrific release. On this one the guitar sound isn’t quite as heavy and dense, but it’s more than compensated for by the accelerated tempo. A must.

Chron Gen Jet Boy, Jet Girl EP

Super lame. Boring songs, weak guitar, and a general lack of imagination make this a waste of vinyl. CHRON GEN were much better on their debut EP, before they allowed themselves to be overproduced. Live and learn.

Crap Detectors Superficial World LP

Jim Jacobi, one of the American indie pioneers of the late ’70s, has come up with an eclectic mixture in this new incarnation of his CRAP DETECTORS. An underlying intelligence is evident throughout this album, but the music, which ranges from garage punk to garage rock to garage reggae (“Phenomenal Technical”), is only sporadically engaging.

Da Time Will Be Kind 12″

A marked improvement over their debut. This time around their influences—SIOUXIE, GANG OF FOUR, etc.—aren’t as obvious, so if you’ve got a hankering for sophisticated guitar-oriented post-punk, DA is for you. “Strangers” is an especially haunting song, and the guitar work is exquisite throughout.

Dirt Object Refuse Reject Abuse EP

A great record that sounds exactly like CRASS at their vitriolic best. I’d swear it was CRASS if I didn’t know better, but I am convinced that CRASS have mastered the cloning process. Seriously, this is intelligent raw noise with a militaristic beat, so march out and buy it.

Discharge Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing LP

Doom with a very fast beat. Don’t say that these guys didn’t warn us if someone drops the big one, because this is the second LP (they also have four 7″ers) that hammers away without mercy at the potential hell of nuclear holocaust. The songs here tend to be a bit similar (repetitive riffs and some heavy metal guitar), but the delivery is so powerful, the words so convincingly committed, that it’s a winner. Much like watching a huge fire—horrifying, but riveting at the same time.

Dischords Dirty Habits EP

What an anomaly! An English clone punk group from California. Even if the singer is English, and he’d better be with an accent like that, there’s no excuse for the other members aping their Britpunk counterparts when they’re from a state known for superior hardcore bands. “Truth Comes Out” and “When You’re Young” work pretty well due to their speed, but the others aren’t worth talking about.

Disease No Future / I Know How 7″

With a name like DISEASE and a song title like “No Future,” this record has to be punk, right? Wrong, it’s weak post-punk with squeaky-clean guitars. This is about as wimpy as ORANGE JUICE, so someone ought to sue them for false advertising.

Disorder Distortion to Deafness EP

A bona fide classic, manic thrash punk of the most intense kind. This EP demonstrates that DISORDER is the very best punk group in the UK and the only one that can even approach Yank outfits like MINOR THREAT and the FARTZ in terms of sheer power. If you get only one English record from 1981, this should be it.

Effigies Body Bag / Security 7″

I normally hate heavy metal punk, but the EFFIGIES do it so well that categories become meaningless. “Bodybag” is appealingly straightforward while “Security” has a dance-oriented beat with layers of metallic guitar and an occasional dubbed vocal. The production here doesn’t compare with their earlier EP, but they do include some hilariously uninformed literature about punk rock by right-wing (U.S. Labor Party) and left-wing (Progressive Labor) retards.

Erazerhead Shell Shock / She Can Dance 7″

RAMONES clones who sound more like the LURKERS except for some obvious vocal touches. Even so, these are the type of good poppy tunes that “da brudders” don’t seem capable of producing these days. I guess that’s a recommendation.

Flipper Album – Generic Flipper LP

The hype surrounding FLIPPER has already reached nauseating proportions, and I have no intention of adding to it. If you’re downed out, you’ll like their abrasive slow numbers and if you’re straight-edge, you’ll probably prefer the fast abrasive tracks (“Living for the Depression,” “Nothing”) that they seldom do these days. FLIPPER was much better back when this album was recorded, before they started taking themselves too seriously. After all, any joke—no matter how effective—ceases to be amusing if it’s told too often.

Fuck-Ups FU82 EP

Mediocre ’77-style punk, including one song (“White Boy”) about a dumb white guy trying to be as ignorant as some dumb low-rider types. Unfortunately, it’s not a satire, as singer Bob Noxious constantly finds new ways to act out his insecurities and aggression in public. Ignore.

GBH No Survivors EP

GBH are real fast and real powerful, but for some reason I’m not wild about them. Their songs just are not that distinctive and I have a nagging feeling that they’re all form and no content. Even so, “No Survivors” is one of their best efforts to date.

Hüsker Dü In a Free Land EP

This band is one of the hottest, most awesome bands to ever walk onto a stage. They are not to be missed. Their first single was weak, and their LP was hard to make out, but this new single comes closest to capturing their raw, grating, high-speed velocity. Great!

Headcleaners Disinfection EP

Manic thrash punk with gravelly Oi singing. With its speed and intensity, this is probably the best record yet from Sweden. They thank BLACK FLAG, the DEAD KENNEDYS, DISORDER, and Dischord Records on their info sheet, which should give you some idea of their influences.

JFA Blatant Localism EP

Phoenix skateboarders thrash out and come up with an EP full of classy teenage punk anthems. The guitar could be more grating, but the songs are fast, catchy, and pretty damn funny (“Beach Blanket Bong-Out”). Check it out today, and skate your troubles away.

Lewd American Wino LP

First release from them in two years. Side 1 presents the better aspects of the current line-up: more thrash out songs with good social commentary lyrics. A pleasant surprise. Side 2, on the other hand, is a live recording, and is more typically heavy-handed and nihilistic. At least most of the good songs are all on one side.

Los Reactors Be a Zombie / Laboratory Baby 7″

Like their first 7″, this is garage pop from the deep Midwest. I’d classify it as garage punk if the guitar overwhelmed the Farfisa-type organ, but it doesn’t so I won’t. Pretty good in an unremarkable way, and the critical anti-conformist lyrics to “Zombie” prove that these Okies aren’t from Muskogee.

MDC Millions of Dead Cops LP

MDC, formerly the Texas STAINS, are one of the most politically-aware punk bands around today, and this record has enough food for thought to gorge the average listener with ideas. The music is exceptionally fast but much more complex than the typical thrash attack, a combination that can be disorienting until the material becomes more familiar. My one complaint is that the mix emphasizes the vocals at the expense of the guitars, but this is still one of the year’s best albums.

Meatmen Blood Sausage EP

Garage punk at its finest. Only someone as smart as Touch and Go fanzine editor Tesco Vee could be responsible for something this trashy. With its gritty sound and themes like infanticide, repressed sexuality, and Beatlephobia, this EP is guaranteed to offend anyone with a speck of decency, so buy two and send one to the moral puritan of your choice. Me, I’m sending a copy to Senator Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina).

Mencenaries Mercenaries for Hire EP

Medium-tempo SF punk with anti-war lyrics (I think), a few experimental touches (especially on “Mercs for Hire”), and a guitar that could use a helluva lot more distortion. The main problem here is the lack of any discernible passion.

Minor Threat In My Eyes EP

Awesome thrash punk from DC. This band has the kind of power and commitment that most groups only dream about. Not only does this blast right off the turntable, but the songs really stand out. One of the two or three best releases of 1981, no doubt about it.

Mr. Epp and the Calculations Of Course I’m Happy, Why? EP

Weirdly-structured guitar raunch crammed with cynicism. Some of the cuts are fast (“Red Brigade”) and some are slower with herky-jerky rhythms, but all of them stimulate thought. The vicious critique of fashion-clone punks (“Mohawk Man”) is alone worth the price.

October Days West Coast / Don’t Give Yourself Away 7″

A really cool debut. “West Coast” is a satirical look at the California punk phenomenon which parodies the ADOLESCENTS’ “Kids of the Black Hole.” The flip is more strong mid-tempo punk with a short bridge that reminds me of the TURTLES! Recommended.

Outlets Best Friends / Bright Lights 7″

Power pop with real power. Loud, jangling guitars and exceptional catchiness make “Friends” one of the best examples of this style in a long time. The flip is more mundane, but the OUTLETS are getting better with each release.

Rejectors Thoughts of War EP

Wild thrash punk in the FARTZ tradition, minus the distinctive songwriting. For some reason, only “Fight Establishment” and “Go Die” really stick in my head later, probably because of their strong choruses. Still, this EP is raw as hell and has great lyrics.

Rudi Crimson / 14 Steps 7″

Depressing. Once a great guitar-heavy pop band, RUDI has now resorted to sickening keyboards. Just because the UNDERTONES added strings doesn’t mean that it’s OK for other Irish groups to get wimpy. Shoot the synth player.

Rudimentary Peni Media Person EP

One of the truly magnificent records of 1981, which inexplicably received almost no media attention. 12 thrash garage tunes (a new subgenre) like the best of the MEAT PUPPETS, but with political themes. It’s really too great for words, so get it if you can find it.

Seditionaries Wherewolf / Shapes 7″

“Wherewolf” is yet another entry in the SoCal shock-horror-punk sweepstakes. It’s pretty good if you like that genre, and I guess it was inevitable that LA punk would branch out somewhat. “Shapes” is a pedestrian punk cover of the old YARDBIRDS’ classic.

Code of Honor / Sick Pleasure Fight or Die / Dolls Under Control split LP

Glad SICK PLEASURE bit the dust, this being a posthumous release—too heavy metal for my taste, with lyrics of equal mentality. CODE OF HONOR side is much better—still traces of metal (Mike Fox being guitarist in both bands) but the thrash cuts are tight, with interesting variations. Jonithin Christ’s (ex-SOCIETY DOG) lyrics and vocals make all the difference here—he’s graduated from nihilism to advocacy of peace, unity, and political action.

Solidarity Disarm / Deny 7″

A ska-ish band from SoCal. I was prepared to hate this, but it’s not all bad. “Disarm” is fairly straight ska, but “Destiny” is an engaging ska-punk fusion with a super fuzz guitar. Progressive lyrics provide a further bonus, so check it out.

SS Decontrol The Kids Will Have Their Say LP

Boston is happening! SS DECONTROL fired the shots heard ’round the world and generated a thriving hardcore scene. This great album shows why, with its ferocious thrash assault, committed delivery, and intelligent radical lyrics. Fan the flames!

The Chesterfield Kings Hey Little Bird / I Can Only Give You Everything 7″

Greg Prevost and company again comes through with great ’60s punk from the ’80s. The “monaural” sound and snot-nosed vocals give this 45 an amazingly authentic feel, so much so that I’m actually reminiscing. But you don’t have to have been a teenage asshole in 1966 to enjoy it today—it’ll still drive your neighbors crazy.

The Child Molesters Wir Lieben Die Jugendliche Mädchen 12″

Cover your ears, the CHILD MOLESTERS have been resurrected! The band that brought you “I’m the Hillside Strangler” is back, at least on vinyl. This material, originally recorded in 1978, is like the movie Plan 9 From Outer Space—it has enormous appeal precisely because it’s so awful. With titles like “I’m Gonna Punch You in the Face” and the most amateur musicianship imaginable, I’ve got to recommend it.

The Degenerates Fallout EP

’77-style punk from Texas. It’s real good in a vaguely nostalgic way, with lyrics ranging from intelligent (“Fallout”) to stupid (“Scrungy Girl”). “Radio Anarchy” is a particularly catchy track with slightly muddled sentiments.

The Exploited Attack / Alternative 7″

The new release by the UK version of the PLASMATICS may contain the best song they’ve ever written (“Alternative”), with its snappy hook-laden chorus, raw power, and—perhaps strangest of all—intelligent lyrics. Unfortunately, the flip exemplifies their usual mediocre standards.

The Fartz Because This Fuckin’ World Stinks… EP

My favorite release of 1981, and that’s saying a lot given the quality of the competition. The FARTZ thrash so hard and fast that they leave most hardcore bands behind in a cloud of dust, but they still manage to exercise a lot of brainpower. This EP is as intelligent, frenetic, and intense as any you’re likely to hear, so get it now before it’s out of print.

The Gonads Pure Punk for Row People EP

Very clever and very funny, but all too typical from a music standpoint. Except for the thrashed-out “Got Any Wrigley’s John?”, it’s the humor that makes this one stand out. (Not the award-winning title: “I Lost My Love to a UK Sub.”)

The Insane El Salvador EP

Disappointing. The sound is certainly heavy enough, but it’s too slow to keep up with their first thrash EP. Thematically sound but musically average, and I could do without another version of the HEARTBREAKERS’ “Chinese Rocks.”

The Lords of the New Church New Church / Livin on Livin 7″

A bunch of losers from the DAMNED, DEAD BOYS, and SHAM 69 band together and prove they’re not has-beens. This is a really original record featuring irresistible hooks, tasteful psychedelic guitar work and enough snottiness in the vocals to hold down the pretension. A pleasant surprise.

The Misunderstood Before the Dream Faded LP

An extremely talented ’60s band from Riverside, CA that eventually immigrated to England to seek fame, fortune, and appreciation. This album, which contains some valuable unreleased material, showcases their evolution from a raw blues band with punk overtones (side 2) to a powerful, guitar-oriented group with Asian influences in the YARDBIRDS’ vein. Innovative records like this don’t age with the passage of time.

The Neos End All Discrimination EP

Possibly the fastest thrash garage punk ever recorded. So fast that the music cannot be structurally confined and sometimes degenerates into total noise. Some might think it’s too fast, but I really like the NEOS’ combination of aural chaos and political conscience.

The Orbits Make the Rules / Phenomenal World 7″

If you long for those great Irish punky pop groups like the UNDERTONES, RUDI, and the MOONDOGS, you’ll love this one. In addition, this Wisconsin bunch is that rarest of birds—a political pop band (“Make the Rules”). A minor classic in a currently neglected sub-genre.

The Zippers I’m In Love 12″

The ZIPPERS return with a whimper rather than a bang, as might have been expected. This is undistinguished pop-rock without the faintest glimmer of originality. Ray Manzarek ought to be ashamed of his sickly production.

Total Chaos There Are No Russians in Afghanistan EP

An oddball release from a new funnypunk group featuring brilliant satire (“No Russians”) and a snarling song sans guitars and bass (“Revolution #10”). Atypical and recommended for that reason.

TSOL Weathered Statues EP

A huge disappointment. This is so lame it’s hard to believe TSOL put out one of the best punk EPs of 1981. “Man & Machine” is alright punk, “Statues” is embarrassingly wimpy and pretentious, and the others sound like substandard out-takes from the LP.

V/A Riotous Assembly LP

Cuts by UK groups VICE SQUAD, ORGANIZED CHAOS, ABRASIVE WHEELS, COURT MARTIAL, CHAOS UK, DEAD KATSS, RESISTANCE 77, HAVOC, MAYHEM, EXPELLED, TDA, UNDEAD, LUNATIC FRINGE, CHAOTIC DISCHORD. A few previously released tracks, most not. Pretty good collection. Favorites are by HAVOC and CHAOTIC DISCHORD.

V/A Flex Your Head LP

A strong release of exceptional historical interest, but one that’s a bit erratic and not always up to the standards set by Dischord’s awesome 7″ catalog. This record includes outtakes from all the core bands, as well as a sample of material by defunct bands like the UNTOUCHABLES and new outfits like those on side 2. The thrash material ranges from good to great (MINOR THREAT, YOUTH BRIGADE) and the experimental punk of RED C and VOID is noteworthy for its power and originality. Oi clones IRON CROSS are a bad joke and the grooves are too compressed to yield maximum power, but these are minor gripes about a hot compilation.

V/A Someone Got Their Head Kicked In LP

An anti-violence compilation from the kids at Better Youth Organization—the folks that put on shows at Godzillas. Features tracks from LA, Santa Barbara and San Diego bands SOCIAL DISTORTION, JONSES, Youth Brigade, AGRESSION, ADOLESCENTS, BLADES, BATTALION OF SAINTS, and BAD RELIGION. Strong album, but not as thrashed-out as one might expect—tending more toward the melodic, but still hard. Great production. Pick it up.

V/A Not So Quiet on the Western Front 2xLP

We’re in no position to be objective about this one, since we compiled it. All we’ll say is that it features 47 Northern California and Nevada bands (a few known elsewhere, most not), and ranges from hardcore to garage. All cuts previously unreleased. Comes with 48-page zine on the bands.

V/A This Is Boston, Not LA LP

This one’s probably the best US hardcore compilation available. The material of course varies in quality, but all of it cooks. It’s pretty hard to choose, but GANG GREEN has the fastest and most intense thrash attack, though JERRY’S KIDS come close. On the other hand, the PROLETARIAT and F.U.’s (especially “Preskool Dropouts”) have the most perceptive lyrics. The FREEZE combine original music with intelligent content, and DECADENCE weigh in with a critique of mindless, ultra-violent slamming. All in all, a great introduction to Boston’s finest (excepting SS DECONTROL, who don’t appear here).

Vice Squad Stand Strong EP

A band that’s really deteriorated since their first two EPs. This new one, though not as bad as its immediate predecessor, barely halts the downward spiral. Beki seems bent on taking the same route as Siouxie, and the band appears content to follow lamely along. Only “Tomorrow’s Soldier” packs a real wallop because of its straightforward nature and louder guitars.

Vox Pop The Band, The Myth, The Volume 12″

LA Satanic chic by 45 GRAVE’s lesser shadow. “Become a Pagan” is a fast, haunting chant with spooky vocals that would provide an excellent soundtrack for pagan ritual dancing. The rest are slower dirges better suited to luded-out covens.

Wipers Romeo / No Solution 7″

This band successfully combines punk and hardrock, much like early GENERATION X and SUICIDE. Some tasty guitarwork and nice fuzz, one of the few bands to make longer songs tolerable. B-side is weak.

Youth Brigade Possible EP

A fantastic group with a chunkier sound and a slightly slower thrash attack than MINOR THREAT. “Pay No Attention” is an awesome musical steamroller and this EP would be perfect if they’d included the classic “I Object,” but you can’t expect everything.

Zero Boys Vicious Circle LP

The best band from Hoosier territory since the PANICS and the early GIZMOS. The ZERO BOYS have managed to combine elements from the ’60s punk-STOOGES axis of their first EP (especially the great vocals) and ’80s thrash without losing anything in the process. This well-recorded album is varied enough to hold the interest of punk afficiondos from all eras, no small achievement.