San Francisco’s Doomed LP reissue
I hold CRIME on high as one of the platonic ideals of late ’70s punk who, on top of being the first on the West Coast with a record, also seemed to come out fully formed, conceptually and aesthetically superior from the jump. Dressed up alternately like slick, sleazy gangsters or crooked beat cops, CRIME sounded like the distillation of everything crude, delinquent, stupid, and degenerant-ly fun about rock’n’roll—from the gnarled amphetamine twang of rockabilly to the primitive, pimple-faced stomp of garage rock—cooked down dirty and shot up with the amplifiers on ten. The music roars out lean, mean, and loud, with a white-hot attack of volume and attitude. The guitars sound like a souped-up muscle car revving its engine, with unhinged and untuned leads, while the rhythm section runs you down, swerving and careening, ending every song like a flipped-out ten-car pile-up. Following the mindblowing record-and-DVD live set San Francisco’s First and Only Rock n’ Roll Band: Live 1978, this is Superior Viaduct’s reissue of the original LP of then-unreleased recordings put out in the ’90s by UK label Solar Lodge. This was also subsequently reissued by Swami in the 2000s as San Francisco’s Still Doomed, which is where I first heard it. While I haven’t been nearly nerdy enough to A/B it side by side, this Superior Viaduct version seems to sound just slightly more cleaned up compared to the Swami one. But there isn’t much you can do to really clean up CRIME, and these recordings remain a perfectly raw and high energy document of the band at their best.