Reviews

MRR #17 • September 1984

13th Key Reaper’s Night cassette

A metal-punk band that’s short on wanking guitar solos and long on power and oomph. This is close to older bone-crunching punk than modern metal, which is fine by me. I can’t say much about the lyrics, though.

Action Pact Yet Another Dole Queue Song / Rockaway Beach 7″

As far as ACTION PACT’s output goes, “Yet Another Dole Queue Song” combines fair pop-punk stylings with solid production to achieve a hummable, though unremarkable, end result. Their cover of the RAMONES’ classic, on the other hand, is so dreadful as to provoke laughter. Uneventful.

Agnostic Front Victim in Pain LP

There is one song on this extremely hot-sounding thrash album that attacks in-scene violence and bashing as the Nazi activity it is (“Fascist Attitudes”). Great! But unfortunately, much of the narrow-mindedness, fanatical nationalism, and violence that has destroyed the New York punk scene seems to have revolved around AGNOSTIC FRONT. Is it too little, too late? I hope not, but I’m approaching this band with caution.

Appendix Top of the Pops LP

APPENDIX’s new album seems to slip into that morass of genericness that many of today’s Finnish bands find themselves mired in. Occasional swipes of driving, well-written thrash (“A Man,” “I’m Scared,” and “An Ass Licker”) largely fail to enliven an LP that suffers from lackluster songwriting and a guitar sound bereft of real bite.

Arabens Anus Blommor & Bajonetter EP

Instead of garden-variety Swedish thrash, ARABENS ANUS opts for medium and fast tempos to augment compositions with minor key progressions, and even an occasional intrusion of synth. The result is different and quite good. “Himmel och Jord” and “Hjälter går Först” manage to intrigue and excite simultaneously, much as their countrymen ZYNTHSLAKT do. Recommended!

Artacus Eaght Mission Impossible cassette

“Attempting to extract the wickedness from society without crushing that society” is ARTACUS EAGHT’s credo. They do this by thrashing and noising their way through a variety of subjects. This mission isn’t too melodic or artistic, but then these demons need a good whuppin’ anyway.

Aus 98 Alles Fällt / Schwarze Raben 7″

This unusual single by AUS 98 has a certain propensity for repetitiveness, but despite a tiresome dirge-like flip, “Alles Fällt” rips with a chilling guitar attack and some fine gravelly vocals. The extended song structures here provide an interesting change from the typical thrash formula. Pretty good.

Black Flag Slip It In LP

After My War, I was expecting the worst, but this new BLACK FLAG album is much better. Many of these songs have more streamlined drive and less self-indulgent pathos. Greg’s metallic guitar playing is generally too discordant and frenetic to fall into the heavy metal junkyard, and Henry seems to have brought his most annoying pretensions under control (except on “Rat’s Eyes”). Although nothing here approaches classics like “Nervous Breakdown” and “Jealous Again,” songs like “Wound Up,” the title cut, and “The Bars” are new reminders of BLACK FLAG’s power.

Breeders Zen Punk EP

This record is a bit confusing. The A-side is an unappealing, slow rocker that sounds like the BREEDERS might be listening to too much LOVERBOY or FUN BOY THREE; the two other songs are fun thrashers. “Fuckheads” has great sentiments about people who play too rough in the pit, and seeing them live might clear up the confusion.

Channel 3 Airborne 12″

This ultra-produced effort by CH3 is very disappointing in comparison to their past output. All four tracks are unfortunately oriented to the college and commercial new wave radio markets, with their rich instrumental sonorities, acoustic breaks, and studied poppishness. In that context, songs like “I Wanna Know Why” beat the hell out of the competition, but it’s definitely a step down. Beware!

Chaotic Dischord Fuck Off You Cunt! LP

A very powerfully recorded album that’s got plenty of that CHAOTIC DISCHORD zip to it. It features still more of the humorous, idiotic subject matter we’ve come to expect form this send-up thrash band, and they leave us with these pearls of wisdom: “You’ve Got to Be Obscene to Be Heard.” Slap those knees!

Code of Honor Beware the Savage Jaw LP

Some people can’t stand this record, but I think it’s quite good. Jonithin’s voice is still pretty snotty, Mike’s guitar playing is better than ever, and the rest of the band doesn’t miss a beat. Even more importantly, the songwriting is more accomplished, and there are all kinds of textures that one normally doesn’t find on a “punk” album. Although a couple of turkeys here make me wonder about their next release, this one’s expansive.

Corpus Delicti The Joy of Living 12″

From the band’s name, you can probably guess that these guys are post-punkers inspired by JOY DIVISION. Actually, it’s not bad for that overused genre… sparse music, medium-tempo rhythms, decent guitar work, echoey vocals, and even a sax. Now you know what you’re getting into.

David Peel & the Lower East Side 1984 cassette

A timely release, both thematically and musically. PEEL, a veteran of the New York street scene (dating back to the 1960s), has come up with a modern jazz-punk-rock sound with the help of GG ALLIN and WAYNE KRAMER (ex-MC5). Sound bizarre? Not as weird as the world we live in, as these lyrics certainly bring home.

Durango 95 Lose Control LP

More rockish than punkish, DURANGO 95 reminds me of various ’76-’77 crossover bands. While most of their songs don’t really catch fire, and too many are about girls, a couple manage to stand out (“What Should I Do” and “Sandra Sez”). So much for the good ol’ days.

Electronaze Waiting for… EP

Phew! All three songs here are fast, blistering punkers with piercing, one might even say shimmering, guitar playing. ELECTRONAZE is frankly incredible, though it’s not easy to indicate their quality verbally. A fantastic wall of sound.

F You Are an EP 12″

Musically, this is a great garage punk release. It’s got extremely raw singing, a biting guitar assault, and that appealingly boisterous, devil-may-care quality. It’s also funnier than hell, though I prefer not to contemplate the significance of the bizarre graffiti on the sleeve, inserts, and disc labels.

Flipper Gone Fishin’ LP

Highly polished FLIPPER? Yup, their parting shot contains all the usual FLIPPER ingredients, but with a “clean” production that takes the heart out of their dire messages. “In Life My Friends” comes the closest to their previous approach, but most of the rest leaves me cold. Where’s the feedback, Ted?

GBH Do What You Do 12″

Normally, I find GBH’s brand of metal-punk tedious, but this time around they sound pretty damn good, mainly due to the incredible production here. The title song and “Children of Dust” are both real stormers, and the dub mix of the former is particularly stimulating.

Ghost Walks Payton Place EP

This three-track EP presents slow to mid-tempo rock with a dense guitar mix and throaty female vocals. The record’s title track is irritatingly dirgy, but the two songs on the flip (especially “In the Shadows”) contain basic, semi-engaging melodies and a certain aural richness. Fair.

Happy Ending Have a Nice Day! LP

A generally unlistenable pop-rock album. The lyrical sentiments are admirable, but only fans of cleanly produced, commercially oriented “modern” music will be able to sit through it all. The exceptions are a trio of nifty psych blasts (“World of Hate,” “Microwave,” and “High Noon 75”). A booklet and free single are included.

Juvenile Truth No Enemy cassette

With vocals reminiscent of early STIFF LITTLE FINGERS, tough, tight hardcore instrumentation in various styles, and intelligent lyrics, this band is a welcome addition to the scene. There’s plenty of power and commitment here too, making this a fine non-generic alternative to standard thrash and its far lamer cousin—metal punk.

Kie-13 Music for Zeros EP

A fairly uninventive, unappealing seven-song EP from Switzerland’s KIE-13. “Anarchie in CH” has some pleasantly diverting guitar progressions, but the medium-speed songs on this disc plod along without any discernible passion or excitement. Rather monochromatic and tiresome.

Kor-Phu Kor-Phu LP

An eclectic garagy effort by a lesser-known band. KOR-PHU has a style that’s hard to pin down and classify—it blends elements of punk, psychedelia, hard rock, pop, and experimentation into one stew, and the results are mixed. The main problem is that there are a plethora of structural and tempo shifts within each song, which make it somewhat difficult for addicts of the straight-ahead (like me) to assimilate. Different but vaguely unsatisfying.

Kyber Rifles 100 Problems EP

This is a ska band from Fresno with some ex-MANIAX and THINK TANK members. Although I love heavy dub-style reggae, I’ve always felt that ska is to reggae what pop is to punk, so I’m not too wild about the lightweight sound and bouncy rhythms contained herein. The one exception is “Generation Gap,” a decent JAM-inspired mod number with fine lyrics.

Legendary Stardust Cowboy Rock-It to Stardom

Try as they will, the modern cowpunk bands can’t begin to approach the psychotic C&W on this disc. The LEGENDARY STARDUST COWBOY specializes in a music that sounds like a cross between HANK WILLIAMS and the late-period MEAT PUPPETS on a “drug train”; if you think you might like that kind of stuff, songs like “Paralyzed-’80” and “Radar” should tickle your funnybone and send your feet a’dancin’. This is the real thing.

Little Gentlemen Another Wasted Day LP

Despite some truly intelligent lyrics and an admirable sense of rebelliousness, the LITTLE GENTLEMEN hit and miss on this release. Some slower punkish numbers, an occasional rock track, and even a few thrashers fill out this package, though the band doesn’t seem to have much of a knack for tasty melodies or ripping guitar riffs. “You Can Run, But You Can’t Hid” is an exceptionally powerful anthemic rocker in the ’77 tradition, and my favorite song on the album.

Lost Generation Return From Incas

LOST GENERATION is back! These forerunners of the Connecticut hardcore scene totally kick ass and thereby prove that they’re still alive and well. There’s great, tough punk here—no frills, melodic but crunching tunes, and hot vocals. Don’t miss out.

Meat Joy Meat Joy LP

MEAT JOY viciously slices away at a variety of pop and rock genres on this curious and extremely uneven album. “Proud to Be Stupid” mercilessly chops apart punk nihilism with its dirgy hardcore attack, while “My Heart Crawls Off” pummels the BANGLES’ cutesy pop into submission once and for all. Too bad there’s also a large proportion of experimental and post-punk rot on here. It’s your money.

Lydia Lunch / Michael Gira Hard Rock cassette

Spoken word. Side one is LYDIA LUNCH recounting a fictional (?) account of a woman getting fucked by a greasebag on a cold cement floor. Side two is a very disgusting account of a fat kid who fantasizes about his male boss, kills a bum in an abandoned building, slits him open, and eats the fetid intestines as he burps the beef. Art? Prose? Slop for slop’s sake? Well, the reader is in the SWANS, which probably explains it all.

Minutemen Double Nickels on the Dime 2xLP

The MINUTEMEN have packed 45 of their minimal, funk-punky songs onto this very satisfying twin album. Most of the compositions here rate from fair to very good, and utilize some combination of melody, guitar riff, or interesting lyric twist to sustain the listener’s interest. The seven or eight really excellent numbers live up to the MINUTEMEN’s best standards—”Corona” and “My Heart and the Real World” have superb melodies, while cuts like “Nothing Indeed” employ the typical MINUTEMEN formulae very well.

Mod Fun I Am with You / Happy Feelings 7″

’60s pop with distinct hard rock trappings. MOD FUN’s general tone of aggression has to be admired, but neither of the songs on this 45 are raunchy or catchy enough to sustain much interest. “Happy Feelings,” the better of the two, offers pleasant background vocals, some jangly guitars, and not much else.

Musical Suicide Little Fish in the Big Sea LP

Now, this is my kind of record. It’s a rockin’ garage punk release with seriocomic lyrics. Nasty vocals, raunchy fuzz guitars, and basic 4/4 beats power MUSICAL SUICIDE’s goofy punk and thrash blasts. Intelligent, satirical songs like “Guns and Ammo” and “Power Trip” are classic Midwest funnypunk numbers. A+!

Zynthslakt / N.O.S. Och Hör Sen!! split EP

N.O.S. have two fairly unappealing cuts in a slower, brooding vein with some rich and bass-y guitar accompaniment. ZYNTHSLAKT, however, write powerful mid-tempo tunes with some deft touches in the arranging department, as on the excellent “Paga,” with its nifty two-channel alternating vocals. In fact, that one cut makes this Swedish EP well worth buying.

N.O.T.A. Toy Soldiers EP

This second N.O.T.A. EP follows hard on the heels of Moscow. Four of these five songs display the band’s trademarks—tight thrash power, choice choruses, and politicized themes. The title track is a slower, melodic number in the S.L.F. mold that shows an expansion of their musical horizons, without stylistic regression. A fine release that would have had more impact if it were released earlier.

Nebenwirkung Gewalt EP

A garagy energy infuses the boisterous thrash on this six-song EP from NEBENWIRKUNG. The very short compositions here unfortunately have the vocals too far up front, but kinetic rockers like “Gewalt” and “Total Voll” triumph over the primitive mix with a guitar/vocal combination that really rips. Check this one out.

No More Wars The Coming 7″

From Chicago comes this promising young band. On their debut 45, they do two raw, atmospheric post-punk numbers with a basic guitar-bass-drum backing. The lyrics are alternately existential (“Echoes”) and political (“Nuclear Fear”), and the singer is female. Atypical.

Not For Sale A Few Dollars More EP

NOT FOR SALE is sort of a garage pop outfit with punky sentiments. They have political lyrics and a certain aggressiveness, but the clean guitar sound and bouncy songs lessen their overall impact. Still, I found myself humming along and tapping my feet, especially to “Too Late to Worry.”

Paranoia Shattered Glass LP

I was anticipating basic Britpunk, but instead this is a reasonably hard-edged release combining pop and post-punk song structures. PARANOIA’s crisp instrumentation is of a high order, and their haunting compositions grow on you with repeated listenings. One can discern some obvious SIOUXSIE influences herein, though a number of the songs are more driving (like “1984,” “Graveyards of Hell,” and “My World”). Good, if somewhat spotty.

Plasticland Color Appreciation LP

This Milwaukee-based band is sort of an Americanized equivalent of the BEATLES during their Revolution period. It’s filled with folky psychedelic pop, and the reason I say Americanized is because there’s a hint of punkiness in the vocals and the fuzzy guitars at times. Their pop sensibilities clearly prevail, but not quite to the point of wimpiness, so they still manage to leave us with some real classics (like “Elongations”).

Pop-O-Pies Joe’s Second Record 12″

More humorous sense and nonsense from Joe Pop-O-Pie. This time he does another version of the DEAD’s “Truckin’,” explains the real story of the POP-O-PIES, and embarks upon a series of rap, punk, thrash, and noise satires, all of which are well-produced. A definite cult item that should be in the Rhino label.

Post Mortem Punk After Dark cassette

A noisy garage tape, in terms of both recording quality and musical proficiency. As with many bands in a hurry to make their mark on the world, POST MORTEM may have released this a bit prematurely, but there’s potential in their thrashing. Keep on annoying those Birchers!

Quel Dommage Bright Lights EP

QUEL DOMMAGE specializes in spare, slow post-punk with the typical complement of chorused guitars, arty lyrics, and utterly uninventive songwriting. Their sound recalls minimal pop outfits like the early CURE, but with none of the latter band’s clever stylings. Boring.

Rattus Rattus LP

A new US album featuring material from several of RATTUS’ Finnish releases. The hot sound quality here emphasizes the band’s power and instrumental virtuosity, so anyone who found it difficult to obtain the original records should scarf this up immediately! (I’d swear that some of these versions are different than the originals, but I could be wrong.)

Reality Control While We Live in Cages cassette

A nine-song collage-like effort. The sound quality is pretty high, and for a band with mid-tempo songs, clear but powerful, layered instrumentation, and critical narrative lyrics, that’s really important. At times it’s a bit too “mellow” for me, but other invigorating tunes make up for that.

Screaming Dogs Dog Music cassette

With the gruff vocals and rockish punk instrumentation, I’d have guessed that SCREAMING DOGS were a Canadian band. The songs are all medium speed or slower, and they have a “heavy” feel to them. There are some appealing moments, but overall this tape didn’t get me too inspired.

Siste Dagers Helvete The Hell LP

The first Norwegian band to appear on Rock-O-Rama’s “International” album series. They produce a brace of clean thrashers and an occasional slower, almost post-punky number (like “I Don’t Feel Anything”). There’s nothing radically different here, just a good amalgam of the tried and true. We’d have definitely wanted “1984” on our compilation if we’d known about SISTE DAGERS HELVETE earlier.

Soglia Del Dolore Verde EP

This five-song effort is both interesting and frustrating, especially for non-Italians. SOGLIA DEL DOLORE has a medium-speed approach with plenty of simple rhythm guitar, along with a couple of thrashers. What’s frustrating is that they rely a lot on the vocals, which are at times more like narratives. It’s our loss, though.

Sorry Imaginary Friend LP

An unusual release. Sorry are able to merge thrash power, distinctive song structures, and high-quality musicianship to produce some material comparable to that of certain other bands who are pushing back the frontiers of punk. Many of their songs are too jazzy or disjointed for my taste, but others hit home with ringing guitars and poppier sensibilities (like the MEKONS’ “Where Were You”). Listen before buying unless you have broad musical interests.

Soul Asylum Say What You Will… 12″

Joseph at Systematic described SOUL ASYLUM’s sound as “thick,” and given that Bob Mould of the HÜSKERS did the production, I think you can figure out what that means. Most of the songs have a dense, rockin’, chunky sound with some power and gruffness behind them. They’ve got decent drive, but they’re more rockish than punky.

STD Another Dead Asshole EP

This Knoxville hardcore outfit gyrates dizzyingly between forceful thrash and basic heavy metal punk, lead breaks and all. What redeems this uneven debut are the highly satiric lyrics on songs like “Skateboards Suck” and the ultra-vicious “Businessman’s Lunch.” My favorite cut is the demolished version of JOHNNY CASH’s “Folsom Prison Blues.”

Stranglehold Same All Over / She’s Not Leaving 7″

More melodic punk from Boston’s STRANGLEHOLD, yet with considerably more production bite than on their fine debut 12”. “Same All Over” features the band’s trademark guitar riffing to bolster a rowdy, engaging pop-punk composition, while the flipside recalls mid-period STIFF LITTLE FINGERS with its gravelly vocals and varied instrumental flavorings. My advice—get it!

Stretch Marks What D’Ya See? LP

While some of the ferocity and offbeat humor of their debut EP is absent here, Winnipeg’s STRETCH MARKS still manage to come out with a creditable album. Breakneck thrashers like “Turnbuckle Stomp” and the title track are the standouts among these thirteen mid- to fast-speed punkers, though the cover of CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL’s “Bad Moon [Rising]” also lives up to all expectations. A good basic record, aside from my perennial gripe about BYO’s sedate production.

Stukas Over Bedrock Life Like Yogi EP

This debut EP from LA’s STUKAS OVER BEDROCK contains a legitimate mid-tempo funnypunk classic whose lyrics extol the virtues of Yogi Bear as a youth role model; the two songs on the flip also exhibit real satiric charm and solid tunes. This should hold you over until the next DICKIES release.

Subterfuge Who’s the Fool LP

In general, SUBTERFUGE plays mid- to fast-tempo British-style punk that’s cleanly produced and tightly delivered. The drums are way out in front of the vocals in the mix, which I think sounds good. Powerful punk with an undercurrent of humor.

Svart Framtid 1984 EP

This six-track EP from Norway’s SVART FRAMTID features finely arranged thrash with some trademark staccato guitar figures and lyrics touching on the basic anti-religious, anti-war themes. The highly textured sound contributes to making just about all of the songs pretty remarkable, so get it!

Test Dept. Beating the Retreat 2×12″

A box set of two 12” discs and literature documenting—via an Orwellian philosophy—the human struggle. Inordinately powerful, overwhelming, and mind-boggling in its successes, this package must be heard. I only need leave you with this quote from the record: “People submerged by the commonplace, programmed by a technology whose language of command, analysis, and control strangles the mind with a cold logic.” Indeed…

The Bristles Boys Will Be Boys EP

While hardly up to the standard of their fine debut EP, these four skunk-style anthems definitely grow on you. The standout here may be “1984 Reality Today,” with its pop-reggae to punk change of pace, but the thrashing title track also packs a real wallop.

The Ejected Spirit of Rebellion LP

The EJECTED’s second album musters up loads of melodic pop-punk in a surprising array of styles, from chunky and fast punk to a few touches of reggae-flavored pop. “Stop, Look, and Listen” is a lilting, effective bit of UB40-ish reggae, but a brace of brisk rockers with catchy choruses make this record click. Despite a few dull slow numbers, this is basically solid Britpunk.

The Fuzztones Bad News Travels Fast / Brand New Man 7″

The FUZZTONES dig their claws into some mean neo-’60s punk with this single. “Bad News Travels Fast” delivers its good with nasty guitar riffs and Rudi Protrudi’s “lead snarl,” though the screaming lead break on the B-side turns out to be the musical high-point of the record. Primitive, raw, and raunchy.

The Idiots Der S⁰⁴ Und Der BVB EP

The IDIOTS are a primitive, alcohol-swigging bunch from Germany. They stumble between Oi-influenced sing-alongs (like the title cut) and sloppy, enjoyable thrashers (like “Edeka”), all the while preserving a sense of humor and fuzzy guitar backing. For fans of DTJ and DER DURSTIGE MANN.

The Neighborhoods Fire is Coming 12″

The NEIGHBORHOODS were one of the most promising late ’70s power-pop outfits, and this record would be great if the recording had more power. “Fire Is Coming” and their aggressive cover of “If I Had a Hammer” have a PURPLE HEARTS-style energy about them, but much of the other material on this disc seems more commercially minded, and therefore sacrifices its potential. Still, it’s an interesting find for rabid popsters.

The Shemps Last Gasp cassette

Now history, but this tape is supposed to be a living memorial. There’s obviously a lot of tight, kick-ass thrash here, although it’s got that echoey kind of “live” sound, that unmixed quality, that I don’t really go for much. This relic is all that’s left of them, so you archaeologists out there shouldn’t be too choosey.

Thee Katatonix Divine Mission LP

This is one of those super-cool punkadelic records that’ll probably never get the acclaim it deserves. Like YO, THEE KATATONIX manage to combine some of the best elements from the ’60s to the ’80s—punky guitars, snarling FLESHTONES-like singing, some semi-psychedelic melodies, and haunting background vocals—in a highly original, unselfconscious way. That’s what differentiates them from the legions of more derivative outfits. Refreshingly good.

Maniacs / Tin Can Army split LP

A new German release with a different band on each side. The MANIACS have a thrash attack that mixes British and American elements; TIN CAN ARMY has a somewhat raunchier and more intense thrash sound with diverting lead parts inserted at just the proper moments. Both groups utilize political perspectives, and have a couple of slower sing-along numbers. Good.

Toxic Reasons God Bless America EP

The TOXIC REASONS’ latest EP features some scathing commentaries on contemporary American life, though the songs don’t quite rate with their best material. “Can’t Get Away” is a bracing shock of ’77-style punk, while the two other tracks invade D.O.A.’s territory of pile-driving political rock. Timely and heartfelt.

Trotz Allem Spezial EP

Winsome, lightweight pop in the tradition of the AU PAIRS, the MO-DETTES, the RAINCOATS, DIE MÖGEL, the WANDAS, etc. The occasionally reggae-fied bass is their heaviest instrument, and it nicely counterpoints the lilting female vocals, but nothing here is really meaty enough to sink your teeth into.

Tupelo Chain Sex Dr. Nightcall / Two Cadillacs Crash 7″

One of Ray Farrell’s faves. These jokers perform a kind of demented R&B on one side, and funky cajun music on the flip. Neither is done with the certified psychosis of the BUTTHOLES, or the sparkling pop sensibilities of the CRAMPS, and therefore don’t really grab me, but lovers of those genres might be enthused.

V/A Blazing Wheels and Barking Trucks: Skate Rock, Vol. 2 LP

Cowabunga! Volume numero two of Skate Rock slashes the vinyl terrain with some surfy-punky-metally-rocky sounds. None of this is thrash—it’s straightforward noise by JFA, the FACTION, Mcrad, TSOL, ANVIL CHORUS, the KINGPINS, BORSCHT, the BIG BOYS, and more. Fun, enjoyable stuff enhanced by good recording, but keep it for after the skate session. Good job, Mo!

V/A Bouncing Babies LP

This is a diverse DC-area compilation featuring bands from the ’81-’83 era, some of which are still around. You’ll get tracks from BLACK MARKET BABY, REPTILE HOUSE, 9353, LAST MINUTE, BRAILLE PARTY, VOID, G.I., DOVE, the CRIPPLED PILGRIMS, SCREAM, UNDERGROUND SOLDIER, and other lesser-knowns. My faves, other than SCREAM, are the mouldy oldies turned in by BEAVER, ASSAULT & BATTERY, and ARTIFICIAL PEACE.

V/A Flipside Vinyl Fanzine, Vol. 1 LP

There’s some first-rate American hardcore on this compilation, easily enough to compensate for an occasional so-so track. The FREEZE, BLACK MARKET BABY, KRAUT, GOVERNMENT ISSUE, and F.O.D. come across with some intense tracks, though my favorite may be the great live version of the DICKIES’ “Gigantor” that opens the album. I hope Volume Two of the series is as good.

V/A The Middle of America Compilation LP

This regional compilation put out by WNUR radio’s Fast ’n’ Loud crew showcases most of the more active, hardworking Chicago-area bands, including NAKED RAYGUN, SAVAGE BELIEFS, NADSAT REBEL, OUT OF ORDER, A.O.F., R.O.T.A., BIG BLACK, and the EFFIGIES. All varieties of punk are represented, and the recording is generally powerful, making this a welcome addition to anyone’s record collection. NAKED RAYGUN particularly excels, but I like almost every band here.

V/A Nobody Gets on the Guest List! LP

With its typical pop themes and music ranging from pop to pop-punk to ’60s punk, this anthology covers another side of the Boston scene. There are a couple of wimpy tracks, but most stand up pretty well if you like powerful guitar pop at all. My faves are by JOHNNY & THE JUMPER CABLES, CHAIN LINK FENCE, HOLY COW, the UNDERACHIEVERS, HOPELESSLY OBSCURE, CHRISTMAS, and 21-645.

V/A You Pick One: A Michigan Sampler EP

Five bands and six songs is what you get here. Most of the groups (ANGRY RED PLANET, the ENFORCERS, PRIVATE ANGST) turn in slower, heavier Michigan-style punk, while the GEMS and the FURY pick up the tempo with a bit of thrash. Nothing really stands out, though.

V/A The Oi! of Sex LP

This latest in a long series of so-called Oi compilations features some classic early punk sounds (which now often pass for “Oi”), folk rock, ska, and poetry. It’s all pretty progressive lyrically, accentuating the intelligent side of the perspective of working class youth. Among those featured are COCK SPARRER, the GONADS, NICK TOCZEK, PROLE, CROSSED HAMMERS, the BURIAL, ABH, and VICIOUS RUMOURS. Sounds good.

V/A AJZ Live Thrash cassette

A shitload of German bands (HAWAII 5-O, ENOLA GAY, SICK PLEASURE, INFERNO, the NEUROTIC ARSEHOLES, PORNO PATROL, the UPRIGHT CITIZENS, BLUTTAT, and others), along with Italy’s WRETCHED, recorded at the AJZ. The sound isn’t great, which is too bad, because most of these groups are. The project itself is of an admirable non-profit nature.

V/A No Aarhus—Live ’83 cassette

A variety of modern bands and styles can be heard here. Denmark is amply represented by CRAP (post-punk), the RAZOR BLADES (thrash), the DEFORMED (punk), ENOLA GAY (thrash), WAR OF DESTRUCTION (thrash), and DIE KAPELLE (noisy post-punk); Finland showcases the thrash of the BASTARDS and RATTUS; Germany contributes GORILLA ACTIV (post-punk) and DER MODERNE MAN (jazz-punk); then there’s England’s DESTRUCTORS V with some punk. The sound is OK for a live effort.

V/A World Class Punk cassette

Mykel Board compiled this for ROIR, and the outcome is by far the best and broadest international compilation yet. Not only does it have a wide variety of styles, it also has a wider variety of countries represented (27 in all), including the Eastern Bloc, South Africa, and South America, but excluding the US and UK. There are excellent hardcore and garage bands on side one, and on side two are some really great pop-punk and post-punk groups. A new wave band from Columbia is hard to get through, but I can’t think of any other bands here that I don’t like. Check this out.

Vatican Commandos Point Me to the End 12″

Heading into “damage” from their original thrash roots (but not as far gone as SSD or COC), this departure hasn’t stripped them of all spontaneity. I usually dislike the “power-metal” sound because of the zip that is sacrificed in getting that “heaviness,” but even the 24-tracks here haven’t deadened this release too much.

Vipers Never Alone / Left Your Hold on Me 7″

Neo-’60s psychedelia has a good outing with this release from New York’s VIPERS. “Never Alone” rates as a winning amalgam of cheesy organ, mildly snot-nosed vocals, and distinctive songwriting that should leave you singing the melody, whereas the flip seems somewhat less catchy. Still, a respectable and entertaining record.

Vorwärts All Your Loving 12″

Many Swiss bands seem to be stuck in the punk past, and the VARWÄRTS are no exception with their ’78-’79 melodic punk rock sound. It’s cleanly produced and catchy, but there isn’t quite enough power to back up the prettiness of the tunes. Pretty good.

Whipping Boy Muru Muru LP

Where does one draw the line between “different” and just plain “bad”? It’s subjective of course, and partially based on prior contact with a band’s music, which prejudices expectations to a degree. This new WHIPPING BOY album evidences a major departure from their previous ordinary thrash to a potpourri of post-punk, blues, ska, and droning. I can’t say that I like it, but I can’t say I’m being objective, either.