Columns - "If You Die, and Go to Hell, Who Cares?" 01.24.01

Still recovering from the New Year and the shock of George Bush--the man who wipes boogers on unsuspecting women's dresses (it's true!)--being president of the US, not as many records came out this month as usual. To be honest, I'm kind of glad (that not so many records came out). It's been a rough start to a new millennium. I still feel hung over--and I don't even drink.

Norton Records (PO Box 646/Cooper Station/NYC, NY 10276) rang in the New Year with a bang, care of the PRETTY THINGS. Continuing to go above and beyond in their service to rock 'n' roll, Norton has reissued four PRETTY THINGS albums (s/t, Get the Picture?, Midnight to Six) and a 10" (Defecting Grey). The albums, as you would probably expect, are all great. If you picked up any of the Pretty Things e.p.s Norton released in 2000, you know what to expect. In music as well as actions, the Pretty Things make the ROLLING STONES look like good lil' schoolboys. These recordings were all first released between 1964 – 65. The albums come in full color gatefold sleeves with extensive Norton-sized liner notes.

If you're a casual listener, or just wanna test the Pretty Things waters, I'd recommend getting the Midnight to Six LP, as it stretches from '64-66, compiling various hits (and misses) from singles, plus all the B-sides that never made it onto LPs. It offers a good overview and is likely to get you hooked.

Norton didn't stop with the Pretty Things. Closer to home, they also released an LP by the ALARM CLOCKS, simply titled, Yeah! The cover advertises the record as "Savage 1966 Ohio Garage Raunch!" They aren't kidding—these songs are way lo on the fidelity scale, but absolutely explode with untamed teenage rock 'n' roll fury. If it's been a while since you've visited the tombs of wailing '60s garage, let this album welcome you home.

Back to the present, the DIRT BOMBS deliver two new stunning dirty Detroit stompers on an already hard to find single (Solid Sex Lovie Doll/Federico Zanutto/via Rualis 101/33043 Cinidale (UD)/Italy). Two great, raw songs, "Headlights On" and "Jolene" make this an essential single. You know how people rave about the idea of a "perfect" single—one song on each side, a big hole, played at 45 rpms? Well, it's not a fantasy. This record is fucking great. Get it if you can. To make the collectors sweat, there are three different covers, one limited to 87 copies, one limited to 94 copies and the last limited to 119 copies. Solid Sex Lovie Doll also just released a WALTER DANIELS 7". I haven't gotten to hear that one yet. Also keep your beady little eyes peeled for singles by KING LOUIE and the REATARDS.

Last month, you most likely missed the review of a single by a band called the MIGHTY JOHN WAYNES. I made a point to check out the single, since they're from my hometown, Indianapolis. I admit, they make their RIP OFFS/MUMMIES obsession painful obvious—from the cover down to the music, but they do it amazingly well. Mr. Jim Kuczkowski, the mix master behind the Rip Off sound helped these Indianapolis lads achieve that magic sound (better than any band since the Rip Offs, I might add). Thankfully, it doesn't have that total shit, recorded in the toilet sound. They attack their instruments and you can hear it! They put together some simple melodies, crank them up and really tear out a great debut single. Easily one of the best records to come from Indiana since the PROBLEMATICS. Get your copy now before they get big and you're scrambling to buy one on eBay. ($3 to: The Might John Waynes c/o Jade/655 N. Parker Ave/Indpls., IN 46201). I'll add that they're looking to play around the Midwest and are also looking for labels to put out more of their stuff.

I had planned on writing a big review of all the GIZMOS shit that's come out, including the new double-CD and their reunion show with the PANICS in Bloomington, IN, but 1.) the CDs and LPs I ordered from Gulcher got lost in the mail and 2.) I didn't make it back to Indiana for the reunion show. By all accounts, I heard it was better than expected. The Gizmos played a whopping 30 songs! Young and old alike danced the night away.

While I'm talking about Indiana, be sure to see the JOHN WILKES BOOZE EXPLOSION if they happen to play in your neck of the woods. This is another Bloomington band who knows what rock 'n' roll is all about.

Rumors have been floating around for a while that W. George Defoe, author of the International Discography of the New Wave (the bible for collectors) is going to be reprinting it. Unfortunately, he's not updating nor correcting the reprint. That's a shame, because Henry Weld, with the help of a number of friends, has completed an incredible update of the US parts of the International Discography. You can check it out at

This web site actually promises to be a must-see sight for collectors. Justin, the man with the plan, is working on getting a trade/auction board set-up so you won't have to deal with neither eBay nor snotty parent-funded hardcore/straight edge collectors that you find on the Revelation trade board. Plus, the Collector Scum site has lots of essential links (of course) and the discography I've been wishing someone would do—punk 8-tracks. Yes, believe it or not, many punk and pre-punk records were released on 8-track in the '70s. From the MC5 to the SEX PISTOLS, they do exist. It's a really fun discography to look at...but then, I've got a weird discography fetish...I've actually started collecting punk discographies. I wonder what that says about me.

I put on the new DAYLIGHT LOVERS LP (Sympathy) the other night and my girlfriend Mimi remarked, "This sounds like all the other music you listen to." Funny, since I was thinking pretty much the same thing. That's not to say it's not a good record. It's a fine record, but suffers from being too clean, which is an interesting thing to say given that Jack Oblivian produced the record. Maybe it's not a production problem as much as it is songwriting. The songs are clunky and don't really have a killer natural flow to them. After a few songs, the band Mimi decided the DAYLIGHT LOVERS sound like is the DEVIL DOGS (I will make a rock 'n' roller out of her yet! If she doesn't turn me to an academic first). We put on the first Devil Dogs just to double check. Sure enough, they use a lot of the same strutting chords and simple, swaggering rhythms. Not that I'm complaining...fuck, the world needs more bands that sound like the Devil Dogs.

Lately, I've been kicking around a number of projects, none of which will probably ever come to fruition. One such project is a comp of Midwest area bands. As I mentioned last month, there's a lot of great music coming out of the former Northwest territory (Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin). Area-specific comps seemed to flourish around 1980. And while there probably have been a number of area-specific comps released on CD, there's a good chance most suck. Shitty CD comps are the scourge of punk... followed closely by CD-Rs.

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that Offenzline (outta Germany no less: has put out a really great comp of bands from Springfield, MA titled, Springfield Mass. Rocks Your Ass. No, this isn't a reissue of some old comp. All the bands are current, and the majority of them are actually good. It's a beautiful, amazing thing really.

The bands offer a good mix of music styles without feeling the need to cover every genre within the scene. There are no big name bands used as a selling point anchor. The bands are all different enough to be interesting, but not so different that you're gonna feel the need to hurl a beer can at your turntable everytime a shitty emo or pop-punk song comes on.

The song closest to eliciting this response is "Heroin Bitch" by the TUTIS, but they save themselves but leaping from a slow, melodramatic whispery song into a full throttled attack. The DONUT KINGS kinda wander too far into the bar stage, self-absorbed guitar freak out jam for my tastes. And I gotta question the use of a saxophone on the otherwise storming, gruff TUTSUS song, "Day of the Long Knives." It sounds really outta place.

If I had a serious compliant, it would be that some of the songs are just too long. Why do so many bands think they're interesting enough to hold our attention for 3 1/2 minutes? My mind is wandering at the two-minute mark. The PANGLOSS song, "Hitchhiker" is a good example. It's a fine noisy, melodic song. About 1/2 way through they stop; you think the song is over, but they just keep going.

One last complaint—there's no information at all about the bands. Nothing. That sucks. Despite its various shortcomings though, this comp pulls through better than most in recent memory. Hopefully more records like this will start appearing.

Out of New Zealand, Raw Power Records ($15; PO Box 7127/Wellesley St/Auckland, New Zealand/ serves up a fine punk artifact from days gone by, from the HENCHMEN. The Henchmen are known for their serious RADIO BIRDMAN/STOOGES/Detroit fixation. Their songs are aural bloodbaths, quickly falling into an obliterating noisy mess of guitars. This 12" features four never-before released songs recorded in 1984, as well as their Do the Maelstrom 12" e.p. This 12" more than any other record (by any band) acts as an outlet for this ex-DUM DUM BOYS’ scary obsession with Radio Birdman. Don't get me wrong, it's a great fucking record. Since first catching wind of it, I've been hungrily waiting by at my P.O. Box for it and was not disappointed once it arrived.

Speaking of Radio Birdman, the Birdman oddity Rock 'n' Roll War, the "audio documentary" has been reissued. If you're not familiar with it, this album has got six Birdman tracks, as well as songs by: the STOOGES, MC5, NEW RACE, PINK FAIRIES and the ANGELS, interspersed with hokie commentary. An interesting record, but not essential unless you're a big Birdman fan.

Also flooding the reissue arteries:

--THE BUZZCOCKS Another Razor in a Different Face LP. Above average live recording of the Buzzcocks on their first trip to the States, recorded at Club 57 in New York City.

--CHIEFS Hollywest Crisis LP. Flipside issued this on CD a while back. This is the vinyl version, care of Italy's newest reissue hounds, Hate Records. The usual offering: their hard-to-get 7" (from 1980), songs from comps and some studio demos. All the recordings are good and you'll probably be impressed with how good this record is, especially after suffering through a lot of mediocre reissues. Lots of photos and info too.

--DRY HEAVES Shoot Yourself LP. This one comes to us care of Rave-Up Records, also outta Italy. Rather than pad out an album with crummy live tracks, this time you get 10 never-before released studio tracks along with the songs from their 1981 7" (which also appeared on Smash the State, Volume 1.

--GANGSTERS s/t LP. Remember these guys from England Belongs to Me, Vol. 1? Me neither. Yet another rascally boot-alike of this English power pop band's album, originally released in 1979 on Stortbeat. The kind people who put this together also included the songs from both their singles.

--GRIM KLONE BAND Blank Space LP. Major Matt Grim and the boys join the Rave Up ranks, with their original two 7"s padded out with live and unreleased studio tracks. Liner notes by the Major himself.

--THE JAM Celluloid Heroes LP. Collection of hard-to-find songs from England's biggest mod band since the WHO. Includes four BBC tracks from 1977, four 7" tracks from 1977 and 1978, plus a live recording from a show at the 100 Club in London, 1977.

--TREND Live at Budokan Plus LP. Hate Records offers up another "vinyl version of the previously released CD" record. Thank you. The Trend is an awesome band with poppier leanings, but they don't totally wimp out. This record compiles their classic rarity, Live At Budokan LP (as the title suggests), plus the songs from their 1980 7" (which you might recognize from Killed By Death #10).

--VOMIT PIGS Take One LP. You read about them in last month's MRR. One of the all-time classic Texas punk bands finally gets the treatment, care of Rave Up. This monster collects it all, so you don't have to! I mean it's got it all! Stuff they released, as well as outtakes and some live stuff.

--V/A Punk at La Scala LP. This one is from Hate Records. It's a comp of late-'70s and early-'80s Milan punk, including songs by MITTAGEISEN 7", 198X, X-RATED (unreleased demos!), the GAGS and TV VAMPIRE. The first pressing comes with a copy of XEROX fanzine that details the history of the Milan punk scene.

--ARTHUR`S DILEMMA 1978/79 New York City Killed By Death Punkrock (Alternative Action). With a title that reads like an eBay search for rare records, this Max's Kansas City band's two singles and other unreleased material is collected, presented for your obsessive guilty pleasures. It's limited to 500, so if you want it, get on the ball.

-- RADIO BIRDMAN Radio Activity LP. Yet another Birdman bootleg. I like Radio Birdman as much (okay, probably a lot more) than the average punk, but goddamn, do we really need an album that compiles songs that are still very readily available, on both CD and vinyl? This comps the Burn My Eye 7", the More Fun 7" and various tracks by Birdman members side projects.

-- NEW YORK DOLLS Endless Party 2LP (Munster). I'm pissed about this, because I just bought it on CD and being the nerd that I am, I'm going to buy this as well. There are actually two versions of this out on vinyl now. One is on Get Hip/Red Star and is only one LP. The deluxe, 220 gram vinyl, gatefold sleeve edition with a bunch more songs is, of course, on Munster (and will probably cost you close to $10 more than the Get Hip LP). These are the original studio demos recorded in 1973 by the Dolls. Though I'm not for sure, I think these are the songs they recorded for Marty Thau in an attempt to get them signed to Mercury. You might be sick of the seemingly endless flow of Dolls reissues, but this one—at least the single LP Get Hip version—is worth getting.

--MONKS Black Monk Time. Okay, of all these reissues, if you're only gonna get one, make it this one. Seriously. There's a very good reason that seemingly everyone in the world raves about this record. Music aside (which is killer), just think about the circumstances of this band: five US army guys stationed in Germany, playing raucous, wailing, stomping, beat music, with their hair shaved in monk-like tunics, singing songs like "I Hate You"...all this in 1965. If that doesn't sell you on it, would your sorry ass be more likely to pick it up if I told you one of their songs was recently used in a Powerade commercial? (I hope not...) Anyway, this, uh, reissue won't be around long at all. Get it if you see it. It'll grow on you.

Also, I keep seeing mention of both 7" and LP of alternate Funhouse outtakes, most likely culled from the STOOGES box set on Rhino Handmade. However, I have yet to actually see either of these in person. I'll let you know where to get 'em as soon as I find out. In the meantime, if you're done using your Funhouse box set as a paperweight, write me. I'll buy it off you.

What does it mean about punk rock that there is such an overwhelming flood of reissues coming out? That's a question for another column.

•A quick endnote... I apologize in advance for being slower than usual in replying if you write. The company I work for fired 1/2 of its editorial department, meaning I get to do twice as much work for the same amount of money. It's gonna be a hectic few months. To make things worse, I broke my wrist skating, so all my correspondence has been slowed to one-hand speed.

•No, the X LP is not out yet. It will be. Be patient.

You can send me stuff to review (really!) at the address below. Vinyl gets preferential treatment around my house.

PO Box 11906/Berkeley, CA 94712/USA

© 2003