MRR #4 • January/February 1983

5051 El Salvador EP

A very hard-to-come-by EP by this San Diego group. The music is medium-paced punk with occasional rapid-fire outbursts. The production is very powerful and English-like, and the words are really good, covering cliquishness, religion, paranoia, and intervention in Central America.

Abrasive Wheels Burn ‘Em Down / Urban Rebel 7″

More urgent and exciting than their debut 7″, this single boasts two vibrant street anthems which update the ’77-punk style into the ’80s. A powerful guitar mix combined with a slashing vocal attack merge especially well on “Urban Rebel,” even though the flip is almost as good. ABRASIVE WHEELS have become a definite contender.

Aftermath UK Freedom Fighters EP

This is a fine record. It’s very slow amateur punk, but it’s got haunting pop vocals and other distinctive qualities that make it stand out. For example, “Freedom Fighters” has a reggaefied structure and twin guitars, one sparse and one ultra dense, which complement each other perfectly. Way cool.

Alex Chilton Live in London LP

This was recorded in 1980 with the SOFT BOYS as a back-up band. He covers old ghosts like “The Letter” and “September Gurls,” as well as R&B and rockabilly. Better sounding than most of his latest work. Chilton is the only guy that could musically give FLIPPER a run for the, uh… money. A current pick hit.

Anti I Don’t Want to Die in Your War LP

The most intense thrash album from LA in quite a while. The music is pretty generic, but it’s also plenty loud and fast. Lyrically, ANTI range from intelligent (“Fight War, Not Wars,” the title track, and “The Cycle”) to the semi-moronic WASTED YOUTH level (“Poseur” and “I Hate You”). Go for it if you can’t get enough thrash punk, but not if you’re searching for something unusual.

Anti-Nowhere League For You / Ballad of JJ Decay 7″

God, a real disorienting week. First, an intelligent record from the EXPLOITED, and now this—a strong pop-punk single with halfway decent lyrics from the biggest geeks around. Both sides benefit from good English production, have good hooks, and stick with you. I give up.

Authorities Soundtrack for Trouble EP

Musically, this is sorta like early TSOL or BAD RELIGION, which is nothing to complain about. Lyrically, it has your basic punk themes, but there are a few lines that almost negate the sentiments because of the ignorance displayed. For example, on “Achtung,” a don’t-drop-the-bomb song, they say, “The Russians say they don’t want war, but that’s because they’re on top.” They then go on to say that you can’t believe anything the government says, so why do you believe the Russians have military superiority, which most experts deny. Also, in the anti-police song (“I Hate Cops”), the line “cops are all niggers” comes up. Huh? Then how come they’re always busting and hassling Blacks? Wise up, guys! A little knowledge is dangerous, but the record still sounds good.

B. Trug Lieber Schwierig als Schmierig LP

As the band themselves say, “Never mind the SEX PISTOLS, here’s B. TRUG,” because this is a really superb punk LP with plenty of garagey raunch. Most of their material consists of short blasts of buzzing noise that evoke an oncoming locomotive; the rest has a pronounced rockabilly rhythm and sounds like early demos of the CRAMPS must have once sounded. The abrasive recording definitely captures the raw power that B. TRUG must generate live. My fave new German release.

Big Black Lungs 12″

This Chicago band produce an original sort of quasi-industrial sound reminiscent of early PERE UBU and DEMENTIA PRECOX. There’s all sorts of weird frills and noises that suggest hammers hitting anvils and pistons driving machines. But don’t think these guys are arty—their music has a vague punky sensibility and primal hypnotic rhythms. If depressed factory towns like Gary, IN ever need a theme song, they should turn to BIG BLACK.

Big Boys Fun, Fun, Fun… 12″

A real mixed bag. The BIG BOYS are at their best when they play punk (“Fun…”), thrash (“Apolitical”), or jittery punk-funk like the MINUTEMEN (“Nervous” and “Prison”). When they branch out, they totally blow it. Here they butcher KOOL & THE GANG’s “Hollywood Swinging” and do awful PIG BAG imitations (“We Got Soul”) that must be aimed at audiences in New Wave discos or something. This gets a qualified recommendation at best.

Blitz Voice of a Generation LP

A 50-50 proposition. The strongest tracks are the ones with the cool back-up soccer chants—really powerful punk. And then there are the others, either too sparse, over-produced, or just plain lame (like their cover of LOU REED’s “Vicious”).

Born BC The Power and the Privelige EP

On one hand, it’s slow, repetitive UK punk. On the other, it’s so raw and weird that the instruments seem to turn into vacuum cleaners and electric saws, while the vocals become eerie PiL-type drones. Definitely odd. It might even grow on me.

Chaos Z Ohne Gnade LP

“Ultra Hardcore” is what it says on the cover, and that’s what it mostly is—straight ahead thrash, much like DISCHARGE, with little variation. The songs have anti-authoritarian, anti-war, and apocalyptic themes, except for “Stuttgart über Alles,” modeled after the DK’s classic.

Chelsea Stand Out / Last Drink 7″

CHELSEA seem to have fallen into a stylistic rut in their latest single. While the production factors are raw (a welcome change), CHELSEA have galvanized the hooks and choruses from their last two singles and album into an effective but unoriginal package. The lyrics, too, tend to degenerate into the predictable.

Chron Gen Outlaw EP

CHRON GEN’s polished ’77-style pop-punk may not be very exciting to listen to, but their emphasis on accessibility and politically astute lyrics make this EP an above-average one. “Outlaw” draws an especially convincing point on fashion vs. content in contemporary punk, while “Behind Closed Doors” addresses the subject of abortion somewhat ambiguously.

Claude Coma & the I.V.’s Art from Sin LP

A garage rock record with punky and psychedelic overtones. Most of it is pretty uninspiring (especially Side 2), but they do come up with occasional nuggets like the punked-out “Let’s Go to Hell” and the catchy, scathing “Minimum Wage.” The lyrics are more intelligent than usual for this genre. Worth a listen.

Cock Sparrer England Belongs to Me / Argy Bargy 7″

Long-lost proto-Oi band COCK SPARRER have unexpectedly returned. This new release showcases their peculiarly melodic, buzzing guitars, and high-pitched vocals that sound like like a cross between soccer choruses and the singing of certain glam-rock bands from the ’72-’74 era (SWEET, SLADE, etc.). Though “England Belongs to Me” is avowedly an attempt to take the Union Jack back from the extreme right and make it a symbol for all Englishmen, it still reflects a reactionary world-view where petty nationalism is glorified.

Cotzbrocken Jeden das Seine… LP

A mediocre, very primitive punk album. In fact, the poor recording and amateur musicianship are COTZBROCKEN’s only real strong suit. Since most of the material plods along and lacks any hooks, good production would only make these guys sound like any run-of-the-mill English band. Aside from the hoarse vocals and an occasional song with spunk (“KZ” and “Hey, Punk”), this can’t be recommended.

Criminal Class Fighting the System / Soldier 7″

This one’s got little to offer except very nasty Oi vocals. “Fighting the System” is a reggae-influenced number that doesn’t really go anywhere, and “Soldier” is tedious Britpunk that wouldn’t even disturb your grandmother.

Crucifix 1984 EP

An unexpectedly strong release. CRUCIFIX may look like English punks, but they definitely have that American intensity. “Prejudice” and “Rise and Fall” are two songs played at thrash speed that are both powerful and distinctive. Real great stuff! “Steelcase Enclosure” is far less interesting, and Sothira’s wonderfully raspy vocals are mixed a bit too low, but this 7″ stands spikes and shoulders above their 12″ debut.

Crash / Crux Fight For Your Life / Keep On Running split 12″

One record with a separate band on each side. In the No Future world, this is an appropriate move, because one side is punk, the other Oi. CRASH is the punk band, and they’re similar to many of the bands on that label—anthemic songs Á  la BLITZ. CRUX are more like the EXPLOITED or the 4-SKINS, only sorta low-key. “I’ll Die with My Boots On” is the epitome of Oi topics, but “Streets at Night” is the better song. Nothing exceptional here.

Dead Kennedys Plastic Surgery Disasters LP

The DKs are the only group around whose new releases I approach with the same expectation, apprehension, and critical ear that I did for each new STONES record 16 years ago. You just know a lot of thought, work, and possible innovation will be invested in the grooves. Whether a self-appointed or media-chosen representative of “punk,” Biafra must be carrying a lot of weight on his shoulders. As for the record, side one is more like their live selves and more like their earlier recordings. No real let-down, though there are no immediate “classics,” either. Side two contains longer, more dramatic, and varied pieces that, while bravely breaking the norm, can be very trying. I’ll try more later. Meanwhile, the DKs keep subverting middle America. Keep it up.

Dead Kennedys Halloween / Saturday Night Holocaust 7″

Not one of the DK’s finer moments. “Halloween” is too rock-oriented and makes me long for the MISFITS’ song of the same name. “Holocaust” starts out like an art-damaged neo-psychedelic track on the WITCH TRIALS EP, then mercifully snaps into a fine older-type DK’s punk song. Good lyrics as usual, but…

Descendents Milo Goes to College LP

This LA garage punk group bids farewell to vocalist Milo. Well-produced and snappy-fast, they are as tight and fun as they come, somewhat reminiscent of the DICKIES. The songs cover teenage problems like conformity, parents, drugs, and suburban life. One disturbing note—in “I’m Not a Loser,” they resort to the all-too-prevalent “you fucking homo” name-calling. Maybe these teenage insecurities will ease up after graduation.

Destructors Jailbait EP

A fairly unremarkable follow-up to their pretty decent first LP. It would help a lot t have a lyric sheet, especially since a couple of songs (“Sewage Worker” and “Jailbait”) are not even clear enough to tell whether they’re serious or not. If they are serious—note the sexy/sexist cover—it would contradict their otherwise progressive views.

Dirt Nevermind Dirt, Here’s the Bollocks LP

This live LP (EP?) by DIRT captures all of the raw intensity of their exemplary debut, and fuses it with a punky venom that’s quite irresistible. Admittedly, the songs on this record vary considerably in quality, but their fiery version of “House of the Rising Sun” is alone worth the price.

Double Cross Here to Stay cassette

A 15-song demo from a wine country band whose influences are M.A.D. and CODE OF HONOR, among others. They’ve got a real right, thrash-oriented attack. It’s not too distinctive yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them develop into something special as time goes on.

Even Worse Mouse or Rat / 1984 7″

These two live songs by New York’s EVEN WORSE are a bit sloppy and incorporate some heavy metal guitar damage, but the band’s sheer exuberance and chutzpah easily manage to overcome such piddley faults. They’ve got a chaotic, amateur charm all their own, and the singer’s sarcastic onstage raps sound frighteningly like mine. Yeah, I like this record, especially “Mouse or Rat.”

Fang Landshark 12″

Eight-song release that captures their older sound (somewhere between FLIPPER and CRUCIFIX) and a faster-paced raging style. Very tight, with lots of distortion, lyrics of a vague, cryptic, humorous, and sometimes dubious nature.

Fastbacks Play Five of Their Favorites 12″

This refreshing, buoyant platter of pop-punk would have been highly recommendable even if it didn’t have one of the best songs of ’82 (“In America”) on it. Seattle’s FASTBACKS rely on amphetamine velocity and memorable songwriting to fuel their better compositions (“No Lethal Hope” and “Wait”), and on ingenious changes of pace for the stunning “In America.” Enormous fun!

Fatalitees Yeah, Right cassette

Medium-fast punk, FLIPPER-ish drone, sharp lyrics (“Reaganomics”), funny lyrics (“Gotta Piss”), and really dumb lyrics (especially in the xenophobic “It’s Time for the Bomb Again”). They also throw in the kitchen sink, and have a ’zine called Corrugated What.

Flipper Get Away / The Old Lady That Swallowed a Fly 7″

Even though I think that everyone in FLIPPER is an egotistical, self-indulgent asshole (except the ever-cool Ted), I’ve got to admit that they’ve put out some truly great singles. “Get Away” is no exception, with its powerful driving beat, noise guitar, and clever, venomous lyrics. The 33 1/3 rpm flip is another humorous, annoying novelty, but “Get Away” makes this one a must. Amazing cover, too.

GBH Give Me Fire / Man-Trap 7″

The A-side is a standout powerhouse punk song, instrumentally. I can’t say much about the lyrics (as with many of their songs) because I have no idea what they’re singing about, even after reading them printed.

Hüsker Dü Everything Falls Apart 12″

This is it! The HÜSKERS have finally come up with a great studio album, and if it doesn’t put them right up there with the top bands, then everyone’s lost their hearing listening to too much FLIPPER. The LP has got the power of their live performances, combined with a clean, crisp recording quality. Even if they can’t play Risk too well, they sure can play music.

Infa-Riot Still Out of Order LP

This release ranks right up there with those of the 4-SKINS and ANTI-PASTI (Caution in the Wind LP) in the contest to see which English band can put out the worst album. Mediocre material, a mundane instrumental attack, flat production, and generic Oi themes make this duller than an overused razor. “In for a Riot” and “Boot Boys” are decent new tracks, but you know something’s wrong when a hoary old MOTORS’ cover like “Emergency” sounds real strong. Zzzz…

J.I.A. Corporate Interest cassette

From the foothills of Northern California’s Sierras come JUSTICE IN AMERICA, blazing a trail with great thrasing lyrical assaults on the contradictions of life in the USA today. Very tight, very powerful, and the sentiments are right on the money.

Kohu-63 Lisää Verta Historiaan LP

This band’s second 12″ offering sounds like a cross between LA thrash circa ’81 and DISCHARGE. From the glossy 12-page booklet enclosed, one can surmise that the songs are your basic anti-war, anti-police themes.

Kosmonautentraum LiebsmÁ¼hn EP

If you’re lucky enough to find this 7″, grab it. First, you get the greatest funk bass line waaaaay out front; then the trashy tin-can drums come in; then a whiny, sloppy guitar and screaming vocals. If this is what they played in discos, I’d go. Play it often, and play it loud.

Lama Lama LP

Another excellent punk album from Finland. As we’ve already indicated, LAMA aren’t one of the young thrash bands, but an older-style punk group that started in ’78-’79. But that doesn’t mean that they sound like today’s boring English clone groups. They have musical muscle, songs with great dynamics, tightness, and they play pretty damn fast for a bunch of old-timers. Their new thrashed-out version of “Tavastia” is a classic, the high point of this LP. Rumors has that they’re breaking up. What a shame!

Lost Generation Never Work EP

The A-side has a very long slower punk song that rags on working; the B-side has three thrashers, the best being a great anti-drug song called “Mind Control.” They also do a breakneck speed version of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” But guys, why “just another bitch?” Are you just another bunch of “punkers?”

Mau Maus No Concern EP

Speed alone would make the MAU MAUS’ second EP noticeable among this month’s UK releases. Both tracks on the B-side are firmly in the DISCHARGE/GBH tradition, but the title cut is almost ruined by an atrocious heavy metal intro. Basic thrash—nothing more, nothing less.

Minutemen What Makes a Man Start Fires? 12″

Do I really have to describe them after they’ve put out so much vinyl? No radical departures here, as their whole style is a continuing radical departure. You’ll know if you like them by now—I sure do.

Mutants Fun Terminal LP

A good pop album that could have been a great pop album. The songs still have a thousand hummable hooks and the background vocals are as coy as ever, but what the fuck happened to the heavy dual guitars that feature so prominently in the MUTANTS’ live shows? Unfortunately, they’ve been almost obliterated in a mix which overemphasizes Fritz’s weird voice. The same “wimpifying” technique turned the GO-GO’S into stars, but I wish someone would make a bootleg out of the MUTANTS’ earlier demo tape to provide a contrast and illustrate their real potential.

Negative Approach Can’t Tell No One EP

Another Touch & Go Midwest classic along the lines of the FIX and the NECROS. All then songs are manic, even when they aren’t totally fast, but, uh… the lyrics will make you understand their name, because they’re sick sick sick of all this pressure pressure pressure or something something something.

Nostrils Live with the London Symphony Orchestra cassette

A mixed back of songs recorded in ’81 by this now defunct Canadian outfit. A lot of older-style punk, some with good hooks, but rendered largely obsolete by recent stylistic changes. However, one song, “Malcontents,” is as powerful and driving as anything going, and makes me sad that they decided to call it quits.

October Days Do the Right Thing 12″

This group from Connecticut decided to move to the sunny climes of SoCal, with its recording advantages. Their new release is a five-song effort that with a sound somewhere between early SHATTERED FAITH and the DREAM SYNDICATE. It has the edge of punk, the vocals of pop, and the structure of more melodic rock. A good effort.

Peter and the Test Tube Babies Pissed and Proud LP

Well, they’ve finally put an album out. The sound quality is so good that you’d never know it was live except for the crowd noise and interaction between the band and audience. These guys produce powerful Oi music, but their themes are questionable, as with most such groups. They have all sorts of songs about “birds”—the English equivalent of “chicks”—and not being able to get off. Then we have the familiar ode to fighting, getting beat up, and the wimps that won’t fight in “Moped Lads.” Socially relevant themes in “Keep England Untidy” tell us to litter, and “Shitstirrer” is where they explain that when things are bad they will make them worse. Their song “Elvis Is Dead” is a classic, though, and “Maniac” is a great pun. But who knows at this point if they’re serious? Fun band to listen to but not to contemplate. They are thugs and proud of it.

Poison Girls Where’s the Pleasure LP

This record represents a dramatic change of direction for POISON GIRLS, Britain’s preeminent post-punk band. Their highly produced, sometimes disco-fied instrumental backdrops provide an unexpected contrast to their scathing commentaries on sex, politics, and power. Where’s the Pleasure? may lack the standout compositions which accompany their other albums, but the open-minded will find good music in a variety of styles here.

Pop-O-Pies The White EP 12″

Perfect! Captured on record before they become a “good New Wave” band. Anybody that’s from New Jersey, has worked in a bakery, thinks California is funny, and will play one chord for an entire song is OK with me.

Rabid The Bloody Road to Glory EP

Typical medium-to-slow Britpunk. RABID have a nice raunchy guitar tone, but it doesn’t compensate for the generally listless material. “Police Victim” sounds like the DAMNED’s “New Rose” at times, and “Glory of War” has some energy, but not enough. Note: label is incorrect.

Rank and File Sundown LP

The Kinman brothers could pull any sound off. The WHO, the VELVET UNDERGROUND, any real rock ’n’ roll. I’m biased. If I didn’t think the DILS were better, I’d really like this record. But there was something about the way the DILS could play “Mr. Big” right before the EVERLY BROTHERS’ “Cathy’s Clown” and be more energetic and original than RANK AND FILE will probably ever be. But Chip and Tony are different now. They’re friendly! Shit, they’re almost as warm as Springsteen.

Real Kids Outta Place 12″

Alright! The REAL KIDS have ben resurrected for the benefit of all. Their forté—’60s pop-punk; their trademarks—heavy guitars, sizable hooks, and the plaintive voice of John Felice. Here the combination works best on the seductive “No Place Fast,” the driving “Senseless,” and the rock n’ rollin’ “It’s Been Real.” The production could be dirtier, but this is still super bad Bosstown bop.

Reality Blind to the Truth EP

I can’t believe this is a new band, and not some undiscovered reject from 1977 that someone decided to put out now. Actually, the lyrics are politically strong (anti-NATO, etc.), but the music makes the first MEKONS single look real professional.

Resistance 77 Nowhere to Play EP

This band’s name must refer to resistance to the ’77 spirit of creativity and original thinking. Actually, that’s not entirely fair, because this EP is better than much of this month’s English crop. “Nottingham Problem” and “Nuclear Attack” have a bit of raw, foot-tapping spunk.

RF7 Fall In 12″

Musically, I like it better than their LP, but the words are, uh, confused, to say the least. They put it best in one of their own songs, where it’s admitted that they “haven’t the faintest idea what [they’re] trying to say.” And they prove it—”666 Head” contains some retarded racist shit; “Revolutionary Worker” attacks the RCP for all of the wrong reasons; “Vampire Lady (Coke Whore)” is just plain stupid. I could go on, but it might be contagious.

Rik L. Rik Dominique / Soul Power 7″

Remember NEGATIVE TREND as they appeared on the old Tooth and Nail compilation? Well, Rik L. Rik was a member of that seminal outfit, and now he’s back with a new single. The A-side is an overproduced, almost syrupy psychedelic number. The B-side is better though, sounding like a cross between the early SLEEPERS and late Iggy.

Riot Squad S.A. Total Onslaught EP

Radical protest music from the belly of the beast. RIOT SQUAD are South African punks who play slow, catchy ’77 stuff, but their real significance lies in their very existence in such a repressive country. Vicious anti-apartheid and anti-government lyrics are featured on this EP, so let’s hope that these brave lads don’t end up in jail or dead. Incredibly inspiring.

Rubella Ballet Ballet Dance EP

This intriguing four-track EP contains music reminiscent of early KLEENEX, with an added sophistication of production values. “The Ballet Dance” and “Unemployed” are recommendable kinetic rockers, but the catchy “Something to Give” gets added points for interesting lyrics and a strong melodic sense.

S.I.B. The Third World War LP

An Italian band that occasionally sounds like the REACTORS or—dare I say it—a smarter VKTMS. A feisty Englishwoman belts out some modern rock material—punk, reggae, and post-punk. With such a wide stylistic approach, it’s not too surprising that S.I.B. don’t really excel at anything. The best songs here are examples of classical punk with real power, like “My Secret Life,” “Listless,” and “You.” A few worthwhile moments, but nothing earthshattering.

Section A Time Stands Still EP

One more plodding Britpunk record that makes me wonder how I got into punk in the first place. The title song has a passable poppy chorus, but the others are big zeros—no tunes, no intensity, no originality, no nothing. How much more of this shit do we have to hear?

Seismic Waves Fucking Fashions cassette

A spirited young band from outside Chicago. They play a variety of styles on this tape, ranging from the FLIPPER-ish “Fucking Fashions” to the thrashed-out “I.R.S.” to the funnypunk classic, “Burn, Jane Byrne.” The lyrics to “Morton Grove” are a bit muddled, but SEISMIC WAVES have potential. I just hope they get some gigs.

Shattered Faith Shattered Faith LP

A really unpleasant surprise. Musically, it’s more of the standard SHATTERED FAITH sound—mid-tempo punk with melodic choruses and occasional heavy metal guitar frills—but the production is too restrained and their newer material is less engaging. Worse, the live side is filled with standard rock and roll bullshit (Don Kirschner-like intros, artificially heightened applause, inane raps like “God bless you”), and the lyrics are unbelieveably stupid. The cliched songs about girls are bad enough, but “USA” plumbs the depths of ultra-patriotic retardation and makes it clear that earlier cuts like “Reagan Country” should be taken at face value rather than as satires. If this is LA, give me Boston.

Shockabilly The Dawn of Shockabilly 12″

Also known as EUGENE CHADBOURNE’S CHADBOURNES, SHOCKABILLY cover ’50s and ’60s hits. It’s like when you sit in the bathtub and sing “96 Tears” by recall… you sing the organ intro, what you remember of the lyrics, and your own transcendental version of a guitar solo. You follow that with a quick trip through the funhouse and outcomes “shockabilly.” Same ballpark as PANTHER BURNS, but outfield.

Silly Killers Not That Time Again EP

Musically, this is a neat garagey record with both punk and rock overtones. In the midst of all the new political thrash bands, the SILLY KILLERS actually sound somehwat refreshing, even though they employ older stylistic devices. But the lyrics—yecchh! I’m getting real sick of all this sexist and homophobic shit coming out now. Just because you guys are insecure about your own sexuality, you don’t have to foist it on others.

Stress* Stress* LP

Again, flat production and mundane material make for an unsatisfying German punk album. This record is positively laid back, the worst possible attribute for a hardcore release. Much of the problem here is no doubt due to the wimpy recording, but the songs themselves don’t show much promise, either. There are rare glimpses of potential, but they never develop into anything substantial.

Subhumans The Day the Country Died LP

After three great singles, the SUBHUMANS have released an album that is equally great. They are part of the CRASS family, so if you don’t like your opinions strong, too bad. This LP has non-stop power, thanks to the absence of breaks between songs, and it has some great anthems like “Minority” and “Black and White.” Their themes are always handled skillfully, the music shifts from thrash to more typical English punk, and the sleeve is a lovely gatefold job which has the lyrics printed inside over a backdrop covered with “think.” No question about it, this one’s a must.

Super Heroines Cry for Help LP

Help! The SUPER HEROINES fancy themselves the cutting edge of oh-so-trendy “horror rock” now emanating from LA, but despite their pretensions, this LP showcases little more than regurgitated heavy metal. In a word, awful. Bemisbrain should concentrate on releasing more MODERN WARFARE material.

Tav Falco’s Panther Burns Blow Your Top 12″

Not as hot as before. In fact, this is contentabilly, or even “whichwayyougoinbilly.” Still, the PANTHER BURNS have that certain—dim the lights—”mysterious” edge. “Panther Man” makes the STRAY CATS sound like a showbiz snowjob. Keep cool, fans, cause ol’ Gustav is already lookin’ for a hotter band.

The 4-Skins Low Life / Bread or Blood 7″

Surprisingly good for these normally boring Oi-sters. “Low Life” is twice as powerful as anything on their awful LP, and damn catchy to boot. Louder guitars and soccer choruses pull this one up by its braces.

The Adicts Chinese Takeaway EP

A letdown. The ADICTS’ newest funnypunk release is neither as funny nor as punky as their earlier efforts. The band is clearly capable of making entertaining music, but on this EP inferior material and overly clean production result in yawns rather than laughs. That doesn’t bode well for their new album.

The Affectives Unrequited Love 12″

If the CONTRACTIONS were from New York and sung about typical teenage themes, this is what they’d sound like. The AFFECTIVES play inoffensive pop-rock with an occasional good hook, but there’s nothing here that’ll make you sit up and really pay attention. “You Hate Me” is a catchy teen lament.

The Amps Wall of Flowers / Suicide Note 7″

Are the AMPS one of the missing links between the ’60s and the ’80s? Perhaps. “Flowers is ’60s-style garage rock with overlong guitar leads and anti-censorship lyrics. But buzzsaw guitars, a gradually accelerating tempo, and one of those goofy axe solos that only untutored musicians can produce make the flip a stronger and more modern song. Pretty cool record.

The Cramps Transylvanian Tapes LP & Tales from the Crypt LP

These are two separate “disques especiale,” as they say in the biz. They’re made up of demos from the real early days, as well as comical Chris Spedding sessions and the wild Chilton tapes. There’s live versions of the obscurities and B-sides of singles. This should satisfy you while Lux stays nailed to the parlor TV.

The Damned Dozen Girls EP

More snappy pop-punk from the DAMNED, complete with organ, synthesized marimbas, and music-hall singing. This may be a far cry from “Neat Neat Neat,” but it’s got an undeniable charm of its own. There are even—dare I say it?—some tasteful guitar licks amid the overall silliness.

The Exploited Computers Don’t Blunder / Addiction 7″

A lot’s been said about this band being a bunch of moronic yahoos, much of it probably justified, but on this record there’s evidence to the contrary. “Computers Don’t Blunder” is a great anti-militarist song about the possibility of technology-induced holocaust. The B-side is as strong an anti-drug song as you’ll find. The music is fast and powerful.

The Fartz World Full of Hate… 12″

Not quite up to the standard set by their debut EP, but still excellent. Some of the thrashers run together indistinguishably, and slower metal songs like “Hero’s” and Black SABBATH’s “Children of the Grave” don’t cut it, but in general, the same qualities that made their 7″ so great—sneering vocals that could strip the paint off walls, raging instrumental power, and perceptive lyrics—are well in evidence on this 12”. If you play it loud enough, you can a) make the Silent Majority wilt with “Battle Hymn of Ronnie Reagan,” b) do agit-prop work on the R.C.P. with “Don’t Want No Gun,” c) put fascists on the run with my fave “Take a Stand (Against the Klan),” d) drive your nosey neighbors crazy with any of these 16 tracks, or e) manage all of the above. This record’s an all-purpose ass-kicker, so use it.

The Neos Hassibah Get the Martian Brain Squeeze EP

An amazing, original, manic, tight, intelligent (and I could go on and on) release. And I thought their first EP was great. This one puts that one to shame. There may not be too many of these, as they’re financing it themselves, so buy as soon as you see it. Oh yeah, it’s got fourteen songs.

The Straps The Straps LP

I’ve always wondered if these guys were punks. They’ve put out two singles, both great in their own right, but you couldn’t quite classify the music as punk. Now here’s their LP, and both the sleeve pictures and the lyrics demonstrate that they are indeed punks. Some of the tracks are good and punked-out; others are ripping garage numbers that sound sort of German. The singer has a very distinctive voice, and the band reminds me of UK DECAY or the ABWÄRTS in that they have a post-punk tinge. All in all, a fine band and a decent LP.

The Throbbers Unrequited Hardon / Dear One 7″

A neat little garage pop record by some clever Chicago teens. Acoustic-type guitars create a bouncy background for the hilarious lyrics and catchy chorus in “Hardon,” which describes an all-too-typical situation facing males. “Dear One” has more of a ’60s pop feel. Not bad for a first effort.

The Vibrators Baby, Baby / Dragnet 7″

This must be reunion season or something. The VIBES have returned to their original form after several years of wanking off. The re-recorded version of “Baby Baby,” one of their early hits, is inferior and thus totally unnecessary. On the other hand, the flip has traces of their classy old songwriting, and suggests that their upcoming album may actually be worth waiting for.

The Wall Day Tripper 12″

Scene veterans the WALL were always somewhat inconsistent, even as a fledgeling punk band, but this tendency became more pronounced as they entered their post-punk phase. Now, they are consistent—consistently bad, if this 12″ is representative. Only “When I’m Dancing” has a semblance of a hook; the rest are just ponderous, boring dirges.

The What Gloria / Time Won’t Let Me 7″

The WHAT are an all-female group from the Midwest, and they’ve made one of those records that’s so band it’s good. You know, the SHAGGS syndrome. “Gloria” is an amateur but straightforward of the PATTI SMITH version (!); the B-side contains a complete hatchet job of the OUTSIDERS’ old classic, replete with out-of-tune guitars, off-key harmonies, and imprecise instrumentation. Yuk it up!

Threats Politicians and Ministers 12″

Standard ’80s Britpunk. Some of these songs stand out by virtue of their higher speed and/or catchy choruses (especially the title cut and “Dead End Depression”) but most lack any distinguishing features. The 12″ contains three more tracks than the 7” version.

Toxic Reasons Independence LP

The TOXIC REASONS finally have their own LP after two 7″ EPs and cuts on various compilations. Here, they re-do their first single, cover MAX FROST & THE TROOPERS’ “Shape of Things to Come,” and rip through the whole gamut of their live set—punky reggae, punk, and thrash. The liner notes are great and there’s a glossy magazine included. A must.

Toy Dolls Nellie the Elephant / Dig That Groove, Baby 7″

Another great funnypunk release from the TOY DOLLS. “Nellie” is a disposable novelty song, but “Dig” finds the band in their real groove, baby—fast, guitar-heavy punk-pop with hilarious lyrics. It’s almost as neat as “Tommy Kowey’s Car,” and that’s saying a lot.

TSOL Beneath the Shadows LP

From their inception, TSOL’s finest efforts used both hardcore energy and a fiery dramatic tension to fuel their compositions. Sadly, there’s surprisingly little excitement or drama on their latest LP; instead, they’ve opted for a heavily atmospheric approach to hold together a set of weak post-punk songs. I will always admire TSOL’s contributions to the California punk scene, but I cannot recommend this record.

V/A Annoy Your Neighbor With This Tape

From Chainsaw fanzine, this collection ranges from hardcore to hard noise. On the noise side, we have SMERSH (a lot like the SCREAMERS), SENSELESS HATE, BLIGHT, and ATTRITION. There’s slower punk by ROACH MOTEL and the BAD SEEDS, and a few cuts that have already been out on record (CRACKED ACTOR, ANGRY SAMOANS), but the hit for me was Canada’s SUBURBAN MENACE, a totally great group.

V/A Rat Music for Rat People LP

Live recordings, ostensibly taken from various shows produced by Paul Rat around the Bay Area over the last six years. This contains cuts by the DKs, FLIPPER, DOA, CIRCLE JERKS, BLACK FLAG, TSOL, BAD BRAINS, CRUCIFIX, and the late, great DILS and AVENGERS (though the latter two’s cuts are from past their prime). Most tracks are good quality, so this album should do well.

V/A Amuck LP

A compilation of Arizona bands. One side is arty/experimental, which I’m not competent to comment on. The other side is a mix of thrash, punk, new wave, and experimental. Probably an up-to-date anthology of Phoenix today. Faves are JODY FOSTER’S ARMY, SOYLENT GREENE, and the MEAT PUPPETS.

V/A Mindrocker Vol. 1 LP / Vol. 2 LP / Vol. 3 LP

Three new releases of ’60s punk reissues, Á  la Pebbles. Volume 1 focuses on California bands like the BROGUES and the OTHER HALF; Volume 2 has mostly Chicago-area bands, including the DEL-VETTS and the great SHADY DAZE; Volume 3 is a potpourri and includes the MYDDLE CLASS and the classic BALLOON FARM cut, “A Question of Temperature.” These are the lesser-knowns, the equivalents of 90% of today’s punk bands, who managed to put out that one great single before fading into obscurity in one flash of purple Owsley. The sound quality on these records is stupendous, somehow enhanced to today’s standards. Now you can compare these old gems to today’s neo-psychedelic bands, and guess who pales in the comparison? Rave on!

V/A Kitten cassette

A potpourri of Minneapolis-St. Paul bands, all on the punk side to varying degrees. My faves are GROUND ZERO and WILLFUL NEGLECT. Thank HÜSKER DÜ, who also appear here, for this project. Unfortunately, the tape is already out-of-print.

V/A Rodney on the ROQ Vol. 3 LP

Like the earlier volumes, one side is punk and one side is pop. Lots of the bands are new to vinyl, including KENT STATE, ILL REPUTE, CATCH 22, and RED SCARE. The vets are CH3, JFA, NO CRISIS, PARIAH, and RUDI from Ireland. Most of side one is anthemic, melodic punk. I won’t deal with the flip except to say that the BANGLES track is much rawer than their EP.

V/A Valley Fever cassette

This compilation from Tucson is an admirable effort. The tape features good production and wide variety of bands. There are punk bands like CONFLICT, who have a strong thrash attack, and the URBAN GUERRILLAS, who have a garage tinge like the CHURCH POLICE—grinding, profound, and original. The defunct SELDOMS do a JAD FAIR imitation, GREEN ON RED have a live track that’s not as good as the stuff on their 12″, and the PHANTOM LIMBS have a track that sounds like Jello Biafra playing with the PANTHER BURNS. There are other pop, electronic, and psychedelic cuts that have a certain spark. Something for everybody, and a chronicle of Arizona’s musical history in one package. Let’s have some more, Lee.

V/A No Core cassette

Four groups—COLCOR, NO LABELS, NO ROCK STARS, and CORROSION OF CONFORMITY—share this effort to show the world that hardcore lives in the American South. Well, if this is representative, it not only lives, it thrives! The cassette’s cover sums it up: it shows a Rebel flag being burned.

V/A There Is More cassette

A follow-up to Is That All There Is?, and from start to finish, it’s a blitz. Made up mostly of Ohio bands like ZERO DEFEX, the AGITATED, STARVATION ARMY, the URBAN MUTANTS, the OFFBEATS, the DARK, and the IDIOT SAVANTS, it’s a total joy. For only $2, you’re really a jerk if you don’t send away for it.

V/A Sudden Death LP

Yet another LA compilation, and like most of the others, this is well worth the cash. The sound quality is mostly good, and it features well-knowns like REDD KROSS and JODY FOSTER’S ARMY, barely-knowns like the SINS, YOUTH GONE MAD, and SIN 34, and unknowns like MORAL DECAY, CRANKSHAFT, SADIST FACTION, the DEMENTED, the NAUGHTY WOMEN, and DEAD YOUTH. My faves are JFA, SIN 34, and REDD KROSS.

V/A Total Anarchy LP

Well, I didn’t know that “total anarchy” was a marketable commodity, but here it is. And the usual show, tedious punk-by-numbers in the grooves exudes the safe, commercialized form of “anarchy” that punk is increasingly coming to represent—all stylized form and no real content, all superficial slogans and no real ideas or action. The only cuts with any punch are the two by Death Sentence (both already released), one by CHAOTIC YOUTH (“Don’t Take Their Shit”), and one by EXTERNAL MENACE (“External Menace”). Otherwise, yecchh! Anyone want some cheap coffee-table anarchy?

V/A Die Deutschen Kommen LP

Five groups are featured here. FASAGA and COTZBROCKEN have a ’77 sound; Fluch have a CRAMPS feel; OHL are semi-thrash; and STOSSTUPP must stand 1″ tall and record in a matchbox. OHL rule this roost from a musical standpoint.

V/A Propaganda LP

OK, you’ve been reading in these pages how great Finnish punk is, so order this compilation of almost all of the best bands (save RATTUS, LAMA, KOHU-63, and a few others). That’s all the proof you’ll need. One band after another comes charging at you and demonstrates why this relatively small and out-of-the-way country is the tops in European thrash. Includes cuts by the BASTARDS, ANTI KEHO, KAAOS, NATO, TERVEET KÄDET, RIISTETYT, 013, MAHO NEITSYT, APPENDIX, SEKUNDA, and DACHAU. A must.

V/A Schiavi Nella Città Più Libera Del Mondo EP

Four hardcore bands from Bologna share this raw record. R.A.F. PUNK sounds like a cross between CRASS and DISCHARGE; STALAG 17 are a bit more primitive, with tremendously course vocals; ANNA FALK SS sound more like a typical Britpunk aggregation; BACTERIA make FLIPPER sound wonderfully melodic. A great EP.

V/A Underground Hits 1 LP

One side is all American bands, including BLACK FLAG (their first EP), BAD BRAINS and SACCHARINE TRUST (previously released material), and the ANGRY SAMOANS (one oldie and two unreleased cuts, including the infamous “Poshboy’s Cock”). The German side contains four strong hardcore bands, including TOXOPLASMA, RAZZIA, CHAOS Z, and the NEUROTIC ARSEHOLES. This is a great idea for linking international punk scenes. Bravo!

Varve Bamboo Curtain EP

San Francisco’s most provocative all-girl outfit has preserved much of their garagey charm on this debut single. “Bamboo Curtain” and “The Plan” retain too much artiness to connect as good pop songs, but “Erotic Fridgidaire” has a pleasant melody and a bouncy guitar riff to recommend it. Above average.

Victim The Teen Age EP

Northern Ireland’s VICTIM return with a bang on this wonderful punky-pop EP. The title song is the best track, with its heavily reverbed double guitars, BUZZCOCKS-ian vocals, and strong hooks. It’s a classic cut that’s not matched on the flip, though “Junior Criminals” has its merits. If only the UNDERTONES and RUDI still used this style!

Violators Summer of ’81 / Live Fast Die Young 7″

This single seems more ordinary in comparison with their debut single and their work on the A Country Fit for Heroes compilation LP. In addition, the VIOLATORS’ compulsion with violence makes this release disturbing. “Summer of ’81″ remains the poppier of the tracks here, though some might find favor with the sheer velocity of the flip. Better than most of the Oi currently available.

Willful Neglect Willful Neglect LP

Too bad—the music is really tight and furious, and some of the songs are well taken, but this young band is plagued by the same lyrical problems that many other hardcore groups have in the area of regressive sexual attitudes. Punks have gotta get beyond stupid sexual stereotyping and homophobia. Those are the predominate values of the society we supposedly despise, so why carry them into our own? Fortunately, there are some positive ideas expressed here, especially in “Abort the Mission.”