Garage Psychiatrique Suburbain Demos 1981–1982 LP

I gotta admit that my knowledge of first-wave Euro-punk is pretty limited. I know big acts like METAL URBAIN, or KBD-mainstays like the KIDS, HUBBLE BUBBLE, PACK, etc. And I’ll pick up the odd compilation of, say, Dutch punk or French fake punk when they come out, but I’ve never really gone deeper than that. So, it’s no surprise that I’d never heard of this act, who formed in the suburbs of Paris back in 1977 and played together until the late ’80s. But I’d be shocked if I was alone, at least among our (non-Francophile) American readers. Discogs prices on their first few Underdog records—the release that the final versions of these demos would end up on—suggest that they were pressed in pretty big quantities, which, along with the existence of this compilation, seems to suggest that these guys were hardly obscure, at least in France. But I’m not seeing much evidence that these really made it over to the US. It’s a little strange to get your first taste of an act via a demo compilation, but I still got a sense of what the band was about and I actually preferred the rougher demo cuts to the slicker versions that ended up on their records. The ten tracks on here are a mix of ’77 punk and poppy glam, bordering on bubblegum punk—I’d peg their sound somewhere among the CLASH, NEW YORK DOLLS, and PLASTIC BERTRAND. I prefer the poppier tracks—they’re definitely more memorable. “Quan Revient L’été” is a legit hit, and  I think RANCID stole their slow-jam schtick from “Peut-être à Jamais.” Also, it seems their guitarist/vocalist Tom Darnal led a pretty interesting life. After this band, he joined MANO NEGRA (an act that was pretty big in Europe), then moved to the US to become a tattoo artist but also spent a bunch of time in Cuba, which led to him forming a salsa drum and bass band. Wild! Anyway, this is worth a listen!