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In our ongoing effort to provide our readers the finest in easily digestible yet ultimatley informative and entertaining reading, I felt it was time to delve into one of the deepest pockets of punk rock minutiae, one of the richest veins of golden age lore, one of the most profligate wells in music geek fandom, the Angry Samoans Files. Collected over years and years of investigative work into a band that could rightfully take the throne of Greatest Punk Outfit of All Time (and even if they didn't take the throne, they'd be there to throw tomatos at and write songs about whoever did), we shall begin puking forth these files as a running feature. Each installment will tackle a different Samoans-related topic, continuing until we run out of material (which will happen sometime in 2012). If you have any ideas you'd like to see discussed in future installments, by all means let us know.
This time around, we revisit the Metal Mike vs. Brendan Mullen feud that erupted over Mike's comments regarding 'We Got the Neutron Bomb', with a sidebar from none other than Norb himself, and a brief excursion into the Samoans vs. Rodney affair. Onward...
Exhibit A: We begin with Mr. Saunders' original amazon.com review of '..Neutron Bomb', posted shortly after the book's release:
We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk
#2: The only member to be quoted/included from the most important rock band to ever come out of LA - Black Flag - is Keith Morris (as in "You Bet We've Got Something Personal Against You," cf BF's Jealous Again 12" @1980). Now that is truly absurd. Oh wait, Greg Ginn "refused to cooperate"-golly gee whiz, wonder why? (This book was co-written by one of the scene-makers who supposedly wouldn't give Black Flag a gig in 1977 or 1978 because they "weren't cool" [i.e. from Hollywood or its '77 in-crowd]). Oh yea, "Nervous Breakdown," that's uncool...people, now my head is exploding. YOU CANNOT WRITE A BOOK ABOUT LA PUNK WITHOUT TALKING TO GREG GINN. I don't care if he's the biggest butthead in the world...I wouldn't know personally...he is the musician who, pretty much (with Keith Morris's help as vocal mouthpiece) invented, wrote, and pressed up the 'template' for "American hardcore punk rock"- yes, the Nervous Breakdown four song 7" recorded in 1977. 'Hardcore' (like it or loathe it) was LA's great invention/contribution to the annals of music, not just merely punk rock. Don't take me on, I'm a rabid dog on this one.
Oh yeah, speaking of early 'hardcore LA punk' (which at its genesis at the end of 1979 live on stage was Black Flag, Red Cross, the Crowd, Angry Samoans, and the Germs LP, the latter a minor miracle of god considering that the band could not play their way out of a paper bag onstage...if they even remembered to bring all their instruments...notwithstanding Don Bolles of course, a world class great drummer), try and follow the trail of gaps here:
Not once in this book is there a mention of the March 1978 Dickies/VOM 2-night, 4-sets stand at the Whiskey, which was one of the wildest, craziest, most chaotic spectacles of "punk rock," anyplace, anywhere, anytime. Re: Paul Grant's 2-page article describing the opening night show in national slick-mag NEW WAVE ROCK...I was there (at the Whiskey), it was that hysterical/nutty/wild and then some. Never laughed so hard in my life. Ah, wait, wait, wait, back up the truck-there is no mention of 1977-78 LA punk band VOM (with rock critic and brilliant Blue Oyster Cult lyricist Richard Meltzer) anywhere in this book. Now this is getting interesting.
Yup, hold on, here we go: there is not one mention, anywhere in the book, of one of LA's most nationally successful 'second generation' (1978, the same year that the Go-Go's played their first gig) punk rock band: the Angry Samoans (out of Van Nuys, a few miles within their Valley cousin bands and mutual fans the Dickies and Fear...recall that Lee Ving 'produced' the first Samoans LP, in 1980). Over 100,000 indie-label albums sold (to date...I verified this with their label because I actually am intrigued by the truth, or facts, or whatever); SPIN Magazine's '25th Anniversary Of Punk' issue gave this band the #13 punk song of all time (yeah, Spin Magazine, I know, lame city); uh, one of my favorite rock-bookshelf books ever, Chuck Eddy's 'STAIRWAY TO HELL: THE 500 GREATEST HEAVY METAL/PUNK/HARD ROCK ALBUMS OF ALL TIME', puts their first two albums in the Top 75 (with Black Flag and the Circle Jerks also included, a little further out, which proves at least that us AARP card holders all like the same albums); uh, etc. etc., meaning just that the "critical" rock history books have this band all over the place, yay and nay or pro and con (Robert Christgau's 80's Record Guide Top 10 list of 1982: "this is the most offensive record I've ever liked" [the Back From Samoa album...which I now notice he has right in between Prince and Michael Jackson's THRILLER, now I indeed do feel like I've entered a bad acid trip. One famous critic's Top 10 of 1982 sandwiching Prince and MJ around 'offensive' LA punk rock?]). Well, according to our "Story Of L.A. Punk" (the book at hand, not to mention in my hand), this band does not exist.
Wait, wait, wait. It gets even weirder. Local (indie) record labels and fanzines are mentioned at length (especially the early ones), which is cool by me. Back Door Man, a conspicuous local (and national) fanzine voice from 1975 (the dark dark days of rock everywhere, not just LA) on out, is mentioned at length (the core founders and members--Don Waller, Phred Patterson, D.D. Faye). Yet no mention of their Back Door Man record label (45s by the Pop, the Zippers, Imperial Dogs; and the later Pop album that helped land that band a major label deal). The label was entirely funded, run, and executed by a guy, (and unmentioned, lesser BDM staffer) early scene figure (re: 1976 Radio Free Hollywood's free promo-fanzine that he put out) in the Valley named Gregg Turner - oops, he was one of the Angry Samoans! Now this is just plain weird.
What IS the authors' problem? Did Greg Ginn spit on 'em once in 1978 out of frustration? Did the Angry Samoans insult them once in between insulting everyone else in the known world?
As "history" this book is, I respectfully opine, farce. History is supposed to involve facts, and what ACTUALLY HAPPENED. I saw these bands: in late 1979 Black Flag, Red Cross, the Crowd, and the Angry Samoans (as live club acts before the beach scene blew up at Redondo Beach/Fleetwood the next spring) invented hardcore punk rock-along with that amazing GERMS G.I. album. The "Nervous Breakdown" 7", BEACH BLVD (the Crowd), THE SIREN (with Red Cross), INSIDE MY BRAIN, along with GERMS G.I. and those "punk rock Monkees" (as the McDonald brothers hilariously call them in this book)the Circle Jerks' GROUP SEX (arguably the greatest 15 minute rock album ever issued)-those were LA's statement to the world over 1979-1980. It was called hardcore punk rock (at some point later during that year 1980).
And you really gotta be wary of an "oral history" where the most frequent "interviewee" is: the co-author himself.
What actually is in this book is very fascinating in parts (relatively obscure stuff re: the Church, Fullerton 1980, etc). What's left out--deliberately?--could almost fill a book in itself...
Once again, LA punk rock's worst enemy is itself. I saw these bands (at one point or another, 1977-82)--they were amazing, and could wipe the floor (as live acts) with most of the press-darlings of the NYC and UK scenes. This book does not get that fact, or arguable opinion at least, across, and that is pathetic.
An "oral history" of LA punk rock as told by just Joe King of the Queers (who was there in the audiences for an awful lot of it) could do a better job than this, I really do honestly think. Joe? Joe? Is anyone out there with the slightest idea of what LA punk rock was all about? I was just a dope in the Valley, I'm a dumbass. But I know what I saw/heard.
Exhibit B: Brendan Mullen's response to Metal Mike's review, or in Mike's words: "his response to the e-mail address on the amazon.com review before he deleted it for its lack of Darby-centric genuflection."
When are you fuckin' gonna grow up and get a life? The Samoans didn't even make the scene till '83, or something when everything was already all set up and pioneered by other seminal bands ... and even if the Samoans were around in the garage earlier with the novelty anti-Rodney single... who cares? Then or now? What was original about what they were doing? Punk and hardcore were gonna happen anyway, with or without the Samoans, I absolutely assure you. As for Vom, you gotta be kiddin' me ... nobody gave a shit about that. It was retarded vaudeville, stupid Zappa shtick in every way. I was there, too.
I'm sorry, Mike, but I can't take your criticisms seriously.You fail to describe in your little missive how Vom altered, shaped, or contributed to the story of L.A. punk, or SoCal suburban teenage culture by playing a couple of gigs at the Whisky? Dude, you are pathetic as well as delusional here. Hundreds of bands played the Whisky from 77-80 ... and we're not giving them chapters or space in our book for that!
No-one cared about Vom except you and maybe the guy who wrote a few album filler lyrics for BOC ... other rock crits. You have no valid beef, and I'm sorry you have nothing left in life but a delusional ego, so you trash our book ... you give us no credit for gamely tracing a ten-year arc of L.A. rock culture. This sucks no end.
We said we were attempting the "story" of L.A. punk ... not the history of every two-bit garage band that managed a few gigs and to put out a few indie albums. According to you, we should have just abandoned the entire project when Ginn turned into a megaloid prick on us? We're supposed to shit-can the story of L.A. punk just 'cos Ginn won't talk to us? Mike, what kind of horsedung weed are you smokin' these days?
As for your big old new wave buddy Gregg Turner (who dissed the Germs and the Ramones and called 'em shite IN PRINT in the Radio Free Hollywood newsletter in '77, then conveniently revised himself a few years later as queen of the hardcore prom), what the fuck did records by the beyond-lame Pop and Zippers have to do with L.A. punk or hardcore? Those bands were lucky to get mentioned at all, by way of the chapter on Radio Free Hollywood.
It's all in there, if you had more than a seven second concentration span and could take the time to actually read the book instead of skimming it looking for your name and then over-reacting when it's not there.
Tons of bands were left out, there wasn't room. Anybody but the biggest dork could see there wasn't the space to get into the story arc of every goddamned band that crawled out from suburban rocks. We're not doing little rock critic fanzine completist discography/encyclopaedias here. This is the real grown-up world now, Mike, not your record geek bedroom and all your favorite little albums from the 60's and 70's ... and all your 'favorite things' lists .... all the Stooges bootlegs in the world, all neatly laid out with the coolest ones at the front to show the girls that you'll never get.
As for the terminally delusional and paranoid Ginn, what would he have added to what was already said about him anyway? He gets full props for BF, SST, and codifying hardcore nationally in every way. Several people talked him all the way up, and I don't see how his absence from talking invalidates his accomplishments ... and, in turn, how it allows you to fairly take a shit on our work, especially when the L.A. scene has to fight for every inch of Big Picture 'punkworld' recognition not occupied by provincial New York revisionist assholes. Now we get embarrassing dopey L.A. provincial dorks like you announcing their idiocy worldwide on the Internet! You play right into their hands!
The HB kids from Edison High who started hardcore didn't hear the Nervous Breakdown EP. It wasn't a factor. Read the testimony, bro ... NOT by the co-author. Another rock crit fabrication, and you buy into that crap, 'cos it's the only world where they'll recognize you, (where they all get free copies anyway).
And who are you, anyway, to trash us with no valid grounds? You have no qualifications. You put out one amusing novelty record .... good for a Rhino compilation at best: "Rodney Get off the Air." Sure, it was funny, they all laughed for a minute, but so was "Sit On My Face, Stevie Nicks" ... likewise the Vom record, good for one spin, but influential to no-one beyond that. "Lights Out"? One cool but derivative 60 second compilation song.
BF first took hardcore on the road, which is obviously a major thing, something that's clearly stated in the book ... but it was those crummy little HB bands that started pre-Bad Brains hardcore thrash which gave you and your circle your little window and now your imagined legacy. The HB psychos started the scene and BF openly (and quite sadly, I think) pandered to those goons 'cause they had no following of their own. Everything else is revisionism, andf fantasy on your part, it doesn't matter how many thousands of albums you say you sold to gullible Japanese and German punk kids.
The Samoans were nowhere in sight during the early Fleetwood days. Or are you going to lash out and tell me you DID play the Fleetwood once, bottom of a ten band bill, and I bet you've got the flier to prove it, right?
What I do see you doing is the same thing as you did back then ... trying to piggyback a ride on Greg Ginn's shoulders ... nit-picking so-called "holes" in our book on BF's behalf to create coverage for yourself is totally devious ... attempting to insinuate yourself into BF's milieu, something I find really creepy about your 'critique' .... and a lie to boot.
So your band made a couple of favorite geek lists (all of your little rock critic friends) ... in fact, aren't you/weren't you sort of basically one yourself at one point? Sorry, we're just not into lame lists, neither were most key people who created and pioneered the music.
How are Spitz and I culpable that the Samoans and Vom mean nothing to anyone except geeky all-male punk rock crits and their little lists (making lists is well known in modern depth psychology as an extremely obvious loner guy thing to do, Mike, especially garage rock guys with bad day jobs and no lives), and I sincerely hope you're not still working in that hospital schlumping stiffs around on a stretcher. Other kids made hardcore punk rock their whole lives, it was NEVER about a cool hobby for a bunch of smirking math teachers and hospital workers to do during semester breaks. Spitz and I worked hard to document real teen culture, created by and for other teens, we have no interest in a bunch of paunchy failed rock crit wannabe's using punk as a vehicle to get the attention they couldn't get from their families or their high school peers earlier in life.
I told Spitz a few months ago to expect exactly this sort of thing, I predicted people like you would come out of the woodwork ... and right on cue ... there you are in all your lame glory ... doing and saying exactly what I said! And there's more of you coming, I'm sure. Crude, stupid, delusional, hysterical, and mis-informed. He will be amused when I cc him this letter, to see that I was dead right.
Mike, it was you and your little buddies who decided you were a band. Not us. Maybe this is the 'downside' of the Great Punk Egalitarian Dream ... maybe everybody SHOULDN'T be allowed to get up there and do it ... look what happens!!! Look who comes to the party: geeks, failed rock critics, criminals, psychos. Poor old abused punk rock even allowed bald and fat people to get into rock bands!
As for Al Flipside being left out ... he had no phone ... cut off, incommunicado, to the world when we needed to speak to him ... but Flipside is well represented there by it's other co-founders, if you'd take the time to read the goddamned book. It had nothing to do with "personal vendettas." This is something you are inventing. I'm sure you're more familar than anyone else with "personal vendettas" ... especially the one you launched on me.
Like we say in the intro ... go fuck yourself and do your own fuckin' book,
and if it's any consolation we are well aware of a few holes in our book ...
and, I'm sorry, but the omission of the Samoans and Vom are not any of them
by a long shot.
Mike's commentary: "started hardcore"...Mr. Doofus is talking above about lifestyle-culture (of the Edison High jocks/domeheads), NOT a musical genre...good lord how beyond dunced out is this guy. if you're referring say to rockabilly "lifestyle/clothes/bla bla bla" you automatically reference/label it as such. The naked term by itself ALWAYS implies (or at least includes) the musical genre, aka "rockabilly scene" not "rockabilly." Uh anyway, jesus. 20 years on and the guy is still phobic about that nasty 1980 hardcore music that killed what little was left of the Hollywood punk scene stone cold dead."
Exhibit C: Here we a snippet of the Brendan Mullen takedown that will comprise the liner notes for an upcoming Samoans archive release ("I'm in Love with Your Mom" a split release between Bulge and Bad Trip), from none other than Rev Norb. Commentary in parentheses from Metal Mike.
I'M IN LOVE WITH YOUR MOM CD sleeve copy/liner notes
I'm as tired of stodgy "historical" liner notes as you are, so here instead is a bit of recent wresting and tussling between #16-seed Masque-founder B. Mullen (author of the LA punk-history book We've Got The Neutron Bomb), and midwestern #1-seed Rev Norb who needs no introduction, with final comment from samoan Metal Mike. -Norb
email@example.com (Norb) wrote:
re: Mike'S so-called "bombastic revisionism?" Are you fucking nuts? Do you mean to tell me you are SO parochial (ya fuckin' antecedent!) in your Hollywood-o-centric worldview of punk rock et al that you actually believe the Weirdos had one fucking FRACTION of the influence the Samoans did in anywhere but within a (10? 20???) mile radius of Hollywood itself??? If this is indeed the case, then YOU, sir, are OUT OF IT COMPLETELY (which kind of corroborates my theory that the reason you think "Damned Damned Damned" has unecc...unnec...SUPERFLUOUS commas is that you don't even own the fucking record, it was just something you heard at the tattoo parlor the day you went in to get your bowl burns tattooed blue). The Weirdos had next to NO impact east of the San Andreas fault; in point of fact, their legacy lives on primarily as sort of an abstract aesthetic template (but never mind the antecedents). I mean, sure, scores of bands have covered "Solitary Confinement," over the years, but name ONE that did that wasn't from California (ha! the Nomads! I win!) (also, the Fells from Arizona used to cover "Do The Dance" live, but this is getting far afield of my original antecedent). I can assure you, sir, that back in The Day, whenever the fuck that was, EVERY OTHER FUCKING BAND had a version of "The Todd Killings" in their live set, and about every third or fourth band also knew "They Saved Hitler's Cock" or "The Ballad of Jerry Curlan" or "Lights Out" or "Homo-Sexual," and people STILL cover those songs with regularity (i've heard covers off of "STP Not LSD" as well, how many documented cover versions of tunes from "Condor" are a matter of public record?). This is not a knock on the Weirdos; "Destroy All Music" certainly zaps synapses that the Samoans never touched and so on, but you are living in absolute dementia if you think the Weirdos had even a quarter, even a fucking FIFTH of the impact nationwide and worldwide as the Angry Samoans did. I mean, it isn't even close. It's not even within an ORDER OF MAGNITUDE, sir, NOT WITHIN AN ORDER OF MAGNITUDE. And Mike is the guy who's "revising" history??? I'd say that YOU'RE the revisionist, except i don't believe you truly have any clue how out of touch you are -- you're more like one of the blind dudes of legend who grabs hold of one part of the elephant's cock and makes his judgement of the whole from that.
Thank you and have a nice day!
Exhibit D: Mike: "A funny rodney/angry samoans feud story from 1979, from the "L.A. Punk Scene" home page." To paraphrase Mike, this story (and others) led to the legendary Samoans vs. Rodney feud, which in turn was directly responsible for Mullen's refusal to acknowledge/respect the Samoans and their legacy both then and now.
"put your stories down of how and when..."
Now this is where the story gets good. So, they got their issue out and recommenced business as usual. To speed up paying me off, they booked a Flipside Benefit show at the Hong Kong, Sept 20, 1979. Bags/Gears/Angry Samoans/Catholic Discipline. At this point the internal logic makes sense. The gig exists because Flipside had bellied up, me/the Samoans had loaned them $250 to stay in business, the Hong Kong benefit/show was set up to raise funds and pay me/my band back, and we wound up on the bill because-obviously-we were the first band in town to know it was happening, first come first booked. This all kinda makes sense, right? I'm not entirely stupid? Right?
But, at this point a certain little troll of a DJ heard about the booking/billing, and made a strong-armed phone call to the Hong Kong's club booker/owner Barry Siedel (who ran ads on the radio show, of course...plus free plugs for big gigs) and had our band booted off the gig. Which existed in the first place because we had...well, go back to step 1 above, and precede back down to here from there. And the convolutions of classic tinseltown/Hollywood goofiness explode here...for starters, just who is the "friend of the scene" here?? Yeah, no shit you can't get this incident into the history books as a soundbite; it's too messy, like real life.
Well, at this point the "who cares" Rodney/Samoans situation obviously became WAR from our side. Blacklisting a band within 20-30 miles of Hollywood (and including Hollywood) for two years and change (which he did later)--that's business as usual. That's what a power-mad local "kingmaker" DJ is born to do (and he pulled it on one important band before us--Fear in 1977-78--for making fun of him). But to boot a band OFF an ALREADY BOOKED gig, and one under the circumstances above? (A benefit to pay off that very band for keeping the country's best fanzine alive) People, that's the work of a truly unbeliveably utterly stupid little piece of human pond scum. "Friend of the scene?" Psssssht. Just another self-glorifying male groupie ego-tripping power-mad local power-broker throwing his weight around. I believe Boston had a similar DJ figure: Oedipus...he was never regarded as anything but a clown, right? LA, what a funny town. (The same money loaned/money repaid routine with Al/Hud Flipside repeated itself in 1980, but it was only $150, repaid almost immediately, and there was no benefit needed).
I just think it should also be mentioned that Brendan Mullen is also responsible for recently writing a book about Jane's Addiction. Case closed. In the next opening of the files: the punkest interview with Gregg Turner ever!
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