The Units Live at the Deaf Club 1979 LP

This is an uncovered live recording of the UNITS playing a completely ripping set at early SF punk spot the Deaf Club. Whatever synths they were using must’ve been able to take a beating, because it sounds like they are pummeling the keys and tearing the knobs off the panel here. The set comprises mostly what would be their first LP, and the band is fully frenzied from the start of opener “Cannibals.” The short-circuited arpeggiator, bent timbres, and careening synth squelches are maniacal and still ahead of their time to hear even now. Even with all their futuristic machine sounds, their very human drummer puts a physical power behind the band, giving the songs life and energy. They close out with the all-time hit “High Pressure Days,” with that monstrous backbeat wallop on it that no drum machine could replicate. The recording is astoundingly good, a clear but still gritty document that proves the power of the band in a live setting. The songs are so energetic, catchy, and danceable, and their sound so one of a kind, it still blows my mind that more of the world didn’t catch on to the UNITS at the time, even in the burgeoning rebranding of punk as new wave. Yes, in a better world, we would’ve had a fully-realized SCREAMERS studio album, but in this world, at least the UNITS are getting proper reissues of theirs, and hopefully well-deserved fair due as pioneers.