Saturday, February 24, 2018


If you weren't around for the umpteenth wave of something that could still be called punk back in the late eighties through the end of the nineties, you're probably okay with Green Day or the Offspring, or some grunge bands filling that chronological hole in your record collection. You might not have known of hundreds of bands touring and putting out a plethora of product under the radar of the masses. It's crazy really. There's this religious fanaticism of the late seventies era punk fiends, that it was somehow the most legitimate era of anything punk related. As if anything that came later was disingenuous. Phooey. If you really look at things objectively, with the exception of a handful of bands, the majority of seventies punk bands, while well intended, often vital, good and all of that, were playing follow the leader. Ramones plus attitude equals Sex Pistols plus social issues equals the Clash plus one more trip back over the Atlantic equals a handful of spiky haired bands in every major city with a "scene". That, of course, led to Green Day, the Offspring and bands like them which really were kind of disingenuous. Maybe not at first, but a funny thing happened on the way to a major label. Call it the "eyes on the prize" route.  Yeah, we'll do this, we'll make this concession, wait, MTV? Sure, I want to buy a house.

Punk rock, or any variant of it, was never meant to be pretty, or easy, or a money maker. There was an international network of bands in the eighties through the nineties that still exists in some capacity today, that not only carried the torch but spit gasoline into it. The sleep on the floor van tours, playing shitholes and getting wasted, going crazy on stage and doing ridiculously stupid things offstage. There were a shitload of independent record labels, 45s coming out the ass of anyone with a four track recorder and the few hundred bucks to press a short run of vinyl. These guys, while mutating musically may have played more chords, or in many cases less, than the allotted three chords typically thought of as the formula for louder, faster, shorter blend of punk rock, they may have turned up louder, played without a bass player, or with two bass players, added a Farfisa or whatever, but these were the guys who, in most cases, really didn't seem to give a shit if they were signed or not.

All of this shit came seeping back after reading Eric Davidson's We Never Learn: The Gunk Punk Undergut, 1988-2001. Davidson was in the New Bomb Turks, and was in the thick of it. The book is great, not just because of his accounts, but those of other bands, independent label people (many who had day jobs to pay the bills) and fanzine folks (ditto). A great reminder that "willful obscurity" can sometimes be a good thing. Sometimes it's the only pure thing.

The Briefs - Rotten Love mp3 at Killed By Death Go there to get it
The Didjits - Headless mp3
at Killed By Death Go there to get it
New Bomb Turks - The Roof mp3
at Crasseux (?)
The Morlocks. Sex Panther
(streaming) at YouTube
The Vice Barons - Fuzzy n' Wild (streaming) at YouTube This one's the shit.

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