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by Justin CollectorScum
It seems no one's doing Killed By Death style comps anymore because the expectation is that (A) the songs should be great, and (B) the bands should be total unknowns to everyone except the most obsessive collector. Finding a dozen or more records that satisfy both requirements is no easy task today. But there are still a ton of things that while not necessarily worthy of repressing on vinyl, should certainly be heard. Generally they satisfy (or at least try to satisfy) just one of the conditions above. So on one hand, you've got another solid track from a comped band. And on the other hand, the relatively or perhaps completely unknown band, which while not necessarily great or within the tight confines of the "KBD sound", is at least interesting. The goal with this column is to present a couple examples of each. At best you'll find something you really like, and at worst you'll be able to cross a questionable record off your want list. Enjoy.
Flipsides: (New York City Two Boroughs edition)
Let's start it off with a monster. The big joke about the Nothing (NYC, 1979) is that's exactly what was known about the band. No fifth billing on old fliers, no mentions in zines, and no one having any recollection of them. But times have changed, and at least a couple band members were found, but I unfortunately don't know enough to give their story any justice. I do know there was talk for some time about a legit reissue of the single, and perhaps that's what kept "Scream 'n' Cry" off the slew of comps that followed KBD #9.
The record that got the most people the most excited about Starring Down the Barrel was certainly the Ducky Boys (Brooklyn, 1982). Great picture sleeve? Check. Ridiculous punk names for all band members? Check. One great song? Nope. Two great songs! (Out of three...nobody's perfect.) This one's the A-side and basis of the only word displayed on the front of the sleeve: "(I) (Wanna) (Be) (A) Mercenary". Please note the dropouts around 1:45 seems to be a pressing defect, at least on my otherwise NM copy.
Uncompables: (Female Vox -- or Not? -- edition)
At the recent 1st annual NYC Punk and Underground Record Fair, the world's top collector of female-fronted punk bands mentioned that he neither owned, nor had ever heard, the Beluga and the Human Ashtrays (Chicago, 1980) single. Listening to the record again, I noted that while Beluga sounds like a female name, and it looks like a woman on the fancy custom labels, it sure sounds like a dude. He/she was some sort of performance artist, and you'd never guess it, but the backing band on this one is Chicago teen popsters Epicycle. I'd say not as good as "You're Not Gonna Get It" or even the 60s-tinged "Underground", but better than anything else they ever did. If you don't like a little art with your punk, do not listen to "Mars Needs Women". If anyone has a spare of the elusive insert-style sleeve, please send it my way.
I don't really like hardcore. Of course there are exceptions like Minor Threat, but it's got to be melodic and non-generic, and so much fails my test. There are two words on any NYC record that always scare me away: "Big City". Sure, I'll buy anything on the label if it's cheap enough, but one play and it lands on my trade pile. About a year back I hit a little-known store in Queens, home of generic NYHC, and must have been the first person in 10 years to go entirely through their dozens of 7" boxes. So it wasn't a surprise when I pulled the "Big City Don't Want No Pity" 7" comp out of one of them. One look at the cover and I knew I was in trouble. Strike one: it's from 1984. Strike two: it's got an Armed Citizens track, and I know I don't like them. Strike three: two of the other bands are named Ultra Violence and the Unjust. I get it home, throw it on the turntable, and no surprises three-quarters through the record. But what is this? Who gave the Tyrades a time machine? Nope, it's some band called No Control playing "Suicide". Tana, Kitty, Blake and Reid, who are you?
Questions, comments, corrections? Send them my way: justin-at-CollectorScum.com.
These MP3s are intended for educational purposes and to allow people to hear songs from rare and/or hopelessly out of print records. If you're an artist or label behind one of these recordings and you want an MP3 taken down, please contact the editor at termibore-at-aoldotcom.
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