Concrete Situation II

Digging in the Detroitus pt. 2

P.I.G.Z. “Stooges” (Belgium, 1978)
Steroids “Out of Control” (New Zealand, 1980)
Baiters “Tryggare Kan Ingen Vara” (Sweden, 1980)
Eppu Normaali “Poliisi Pamputtaa” (Finland, 1978)
The Clergy “Blow This Town” (UK, 1984)
Vulpess “Me Gusta Ser Una Zorra” (Spain, 1983)
Stigma “Fall Everyday” (Italy, 1985)
Dead Image “Change for a Change” (New Zealand, 1984)
Leather Nun “No Rule” (Sweden, 1979)
Brontophobia “Hey” (Sweden, 1979)
The Users “Kicks in Style” (UK, 1978)
The Dogs “X-Ray Me, Baby” (USA, 1973[?])
Jerks “Hold My Hand” (UK, 1977)
Widows “Hard to Be Down” (Finland, 1980)
Lipstick Killers “Dying Boy’s Crawl” (Australia, 1984 [recorded USA 1981])
Straw Dogs “Restless Youth” (Norway, 1980)
Deathwish “Ramblin’ Rose” (Australia, 1976/1977)
Slobobans Undergång “Maktgalen” (Sweden, 1979)
Arson “Pretty Girls” (Canada, 1979[?])
The Stoodes “Psychotic” (Sweden, 1980)

Here's the second installment of Concrete Situation and the second part of Digging in the Detroitus, featuring bands from outside the United States (with one exception).

If the world’s largest nuclear a-bomb exploded half-way between Ann Arbor and Detroit and we charted the dispersion of radioactivity, how long would it take for the waves to hit Belgium or Sweden or New Zealand? The spread would not come in concentric circles, as the vagaries of wind and other unseen forces would render the flows uneven. But eventually the radioactive detritus from the bomb would land everywhere. The bomb was the Stooges. The detritus was Detroitus.

Supposedly, P.I.G.Z. stands for Punk Is Grote Zever, meaning Punk Is Big Nonsense. If that’s true, boys, how do you explain this song? It’s perhaps the most direct and stripped-down declaration of influence—or is it a declaration of war?—ever recorded, and also the dum-dum-est. Among the earliest punk bands from Belgium, P.I.G.Z. hailed from Kortrijk, an utterly forgettable town near the French border where they speak Dutch. Reading historical statistics on flax production in the region, it’s not clear to me why various militaries expended so much effort fighting over and then destroying this place in the first two world wars. Anyway, P.I.G.Z. played the March ’78 punk contest in Brussels, alongside almost two dozen other even more obscure bands. Apparently, based on the promoters’ balance sheet, it was a “catastrophe.” But the label that put out the LP based on the two-day concert, JW’s Records, also released the astonishingly rare three-song P.I.G.Z. 12. Godzijdank. My suspicion is that, beyond the likelihood that the label was laundering francs (note the German pressing on one Payola Rec.), no one in Belgium really knew what to do with this record, which went out of its way to insult Belgium as intensely as it expressed admiration for Ig et al. Chalk it up to accident, or, more likely, the region’s cheap speed and cheaper beer. Somehow the live version of this track, on the “First Belgian Punk Contest” album, is even more Igged Out and beautifully out of tune.

New Zealand got hit hard. The Dum Dum Boys and then the Henchmen from Auckland exemplified the transformation of the Detroit sound into thug-punk and back again. The Henchmen more or less invented thug-goth, with some Western vibes sprinkled on top, as they became Reptiles at Dawn upon relocating to Sydney. The Steroids hailed from Wellington, the large city toward the north of the islands. They put out a few singles and were mainly verging toward a colder post-punk sound. By the ‘90s one member was in a chart-topping pop band. But The Steroids left behind this one basic, claustrophobic but propulsive, socially negative track “Out of Control.” Sorry about the surface noise; my suspicion is that one did not originally buy most punk records in New Zealand—they were acquired at knife point.

Baiters were one of dozens of sterling Swedish first-wave punk bands. Like several, they were affiliated with the long-running MNW studio and label. This track has a bit more of a Detroit flavor than most, though it’s more like if the Ashetons were mods. A bit unthinkable, but it works. The title translates to something like “No One Can Be Safe,” about nuclear war, and about this influence.

One of the greatest first-wave Finnish punk bands is Eppu Normaali. The band’s first LP, “Aknepop” includes this thuggy Detroit-influenced track with a similar title as their world-beating “Poliisi Pamputtaa Taas.” It turns out that although that track came earlier, this one is the prequel, as it narrates a police beating (Poliisi Pamputtaa), and “Poliisi Pamputtaa Taas” narrates a reprise, as the police beat you again.

“On the Street” was a one-off compilation of mostly streetpunk bands from across the British Isles, on Sane Records. The record’s title was not likely meant to invoke the Stooges song “Down on the Street.” And a band with a name like The Clergy could not seem any less thuggy. And yet—this surprising obscurity effortlessly walks punk’s thin line between nerdy and menacing.

No clerical benediction would ever apply to Las Vulpess, one of Spain’s most incendiary early punk act, as they flaunted an aggressive fuck-all (literally) attitude in the face of a still highly conservative country in the early 1980s. These four young women recorded “Me Gusta Ser Una Zorra” in May 1983, and it remains one of the most amazing appropriations of perhaps the most classic proto-punk track The Stooges laid down. Their 45 would be enough to keep them in the punk annals forever, but they also appeared on television playing this song—and the video is incredible. Rarely has a punk track quite matched this amalgam of raw horny sexuality and blade-wielding menace. Gracias.

Almost no one outside Italy and a tiny handful of record-collecting lunatics overseas had heard Stigma much before the YouTube era, but the extremely rare 1985 record is notable for its A-side of three Roman-style hc punk tracks and its B-side, included here, of greasy, no-time-for-love Detroitus. This song, along with the band pics, ooze a simple message: This band fucks.

Dead Image typify the combustible thug-punk New Zealand sound, basically Birdman in a ruck with the Stooges. Recorded in 1984 but not released in a tiny pressing until later, courtesy of the appropriately named Raw Power Productions, “Change for a Change” is not a track to play for your boss, if you know what I mean. Somehow there seems to be a political message buried here but I’m mostly focused on the guitar sound, and on avoiding getting throttled in an alleyway when I head home to my missus. The guitarist’s nickname was Stooge and the singer’s was The Ig. I recently acquired this record, and the B-side label is for a Led Zeppelin “Whole Lotta Love” single, rather than the whole lotta hate actually in the grooves.

There’s an entire dimension of brain-bombed, leather-clad, violence-prone, noisy punk descended from the Stooges and stumbling through Sweden mostly that can be traced to the influence of Leather Nun / Lädernunnan. “No Rule,” released on their first single on Throbbing Gristle’s Industrial Records, is the sleazy apex. Of course, if one cares about the grunge genealogy, then one might need to count Leather Nun. But why bother with all that? This is just top-flight premium punk for thugs. “No more silly rules / no more law and or-der.”

If Leather Nun represents the Ron Asheton-in-Göteborg interpretation of Detroitus, then the painfully obscure Brontophobia represents the modestly more cheerful James Williamson-in-suburban-Stockholm version. But a shared interest in blades, I mean blues, unites the two. Oh and riffs. I too wanna say hey when I get my cocaine.

“Formed in Cambridge, England, by a bunch of young Iggy & the Stooges fans.” So begins the biography of the much-heralded Users, perhaps the one class of ’76 band in England to best approximate the Ig-and-Asheton formula. This track comes from their second 45 (via the second press, a Porky Prime Cut). No discerning punk fan should go more than a couple weeks without spinning a Users record.

The other, other Stoogified Dogs, from Iowa, were responsible for the Sistine Chapel of picture sleeves, giving two-dimensional representational form to the sentiment of wanna-being-your-dog. Sic transit gloria mundi. From Fuckin’ Iowa, you dig? This track is not, however, on that 45, which is overloaded with Ig moves and Ashetononium. It was recorded around the same time but not released until later, by our distinguished man in Rome Pierpaolo. It’s hard to believe anyone not from Detroit or Sydney could pull off something so exquisite.

One of the other of the tiny handful of English bands that figured out the formula was The Jerks. The A side of their single—Get Your Woofin’ Dog Off Me—explicitly invokes and even degenerates into Now I Wanna Be Your Dog, but it is somehow the B side that is even more on the Detroitus tip, with Who moves. It’s basic and has a heaping dose of class of ’77 snot somehow layered with a bit of English pop charm, but it’ll do.

Not many Finnish punk bands sang in English, though the influence of British punk was strong there. But Widows also stood out for the American inflection in their sound. The band predated punk but its first record wasn’t released until 1979. This is a live version of their 1980 LP track “Hard To Be Down.” The studio version was released originally on a 45. These guys liked leather and chains, as should be clear.

Lipstick Killers emerged in the Sydney Birdman penumbra, led by guitarist Mark Taylor, who was responsible for importing many of the punk records that first made their way to Australia. (He was also previously in the shortlived but notable Psycho-Surgeons.) By 1981, Lipstick Killers were already touring overseas, and this LP, later released in Australia and France (natch) contains a live set from Los Angeles. It’s veering more toward standard garage revival (Taylor would go on to become perhaps the planet’s premier collector of 60s U.S. garage singles), but this understated street-smart track retains the Detroit-via-Downunder Real O-Mind we crave.

“Headbanger” by Norway’s Strawdogs appeared on a live LP called “Kraftrock,” memorializing a two-day 1980 rock fest in Trondheim. Strawdogs are reputed to be the first metal band in a country that would go on to become rather famous for its metal, but although aspects of this track are reminiscent of both Motörhead and NWOBHM, to me the riff and rhythm are giving Detroitus. Regardless of genre, these were not the type of guys you’d want to bring home to mum.

Deathwish preceded The Chosen Few, perhaps my favorite Australian band (though that is an extremely tough call). And this garagey, basic, no-time-for-love version of the ‘5’s “Ramblin’ Rose” may actually be my favorite version of the song, better even than the original, in part because the singer skips the falsetto. Deathwish was mostly a cover band, and only one of their tracks ended up in the Few’s repertoire. But what they rehearsed will last forever.

Slobobans Undergång, like many early teenaged punk bands, had some difficulty deciding what style of music to play. This thuggy Detroit-laced track stands out in contrast the vit-pojke reggae alongside it on their first single from 1979. The record came out on Sista Bussen, mainly an independent progg (not prog) label, which also put out Liket Lever’s godlike single as well as the aforementioned Lädernunnan attack. Honestly, Slobobans Undergång’s cannot be placed in the same league as those two bands, but I like this track, “Maktgalen.”

One of the early Toronto punk bands, Arson melded the sound of New York, Detroit, and London. Their lone single is a classic, but this rough, horny, and pissed-off track “Pretty Girls” never appeared anywhere other than on the first volume of the “Smash the State” compilation series of Canadian rarities. The way that guitar lead comes in after the opening is enough to make me want to bang my head into the wall. And dig the wild drumfills, summoning the rotting corpse of Keith Moon. I’d, um, commit arson to hear more in this (bulging) vein.

The Stoodes (yes, that’s their name), from Stockholm, present the most wasted and violent version of Swedish Detroitus (other than Totenkopf, about whom more will be said later). They released an LP called “Metallic OK,” and their slogan was “Rock Against Music.” On this track, which appeared on the amazing “Let It Out” compilation LP, there is actually more vocal action than can be found in most of their tracks, but I wouldn’t exactly call it singing. This propulsive nearly hardcore punk track takes Detroitus to its berserk but logical conclusion. It’s just fighting and fucking all at once, rhythmic, savage, and not long for this world.

Concrete Situation I

Digging in the Detroitus pt. 1

Stooges “T.V. Eye” (USA, 1970)
Fun Things “Where the Birdmen Fly” (Australia, 1980)
Flirt “Degenerator” (USA, 1978)
Radio Birdman “New Race” (Australia, 1977)
Eddie Criss Group “Schoolgirlz” (USA, 1980)
New Christs “Waiting World” (Australia, 1981)
Cult Heroes “Berlin Wall” (USA, 1979)
New Race “Gotta Keep Movin’” (Australia, 1983)
Sonic’s Rendezvous Band “City Slang” (USA, 1978)
The Dogs “Tough Enough” (USA, 1978)
GG Allin and the Jabbers “Occupation” (USA, 1980)
Cinecyde “Radiation Sickness” (USA, 1979)
The Projections “I Can Hardly Remember” (USA, 1982)
Matt Gimmick “Ya Don’t Know My Name” (USA, 1979)
Henchmen “Rock & Roll Attack” (New Zealand, 1982)
New Order “Of Another World” (USA, 1976)

I have been working on this Detroitus series for over a year, as a part of a new mixtape series called Concrete Situation. I had planned to post this one soon, but then Wayne Kramer passed away, so I decided to post the first installment immediately as a tribute. RIP to a legend.

“You want me, and I want you. It’s summer, and I’m 22.” Not exactly a mondegreen, but nevertheless an exquisite rendering of Detroitus, of what the one guy calls “the same ground” on which the MC5 and the Stooges, and soon dozens of other bands, many featured here, would tread. Recorded in the backseat of a taxi nearly getting lost on the way to a Manhattan Stooges gig in August 1970, two women and the guy discuss whether the knife- and meat-based self-harm they expected to soon witness was actually entertaining. One of the skeptical women also notes that the new album, “Funhouse,” which had been released about six weeks prior and would comprise the bulk of the set during the week-long Stooges residency at Ungano’s on the Upper West Side in Manhattan (discussed by Richard Meltzer in Screw magazine), was about 4,500 times better than their previous, self-titled offering. Let’s find out just how good it was.

“T.V. Eye” may most perfectly encapsulate the key feature of the Detroit sound: Ron Asheton plays riffs for days that will stay with you for years. Oozing sexual tension, the song may raise an eyebrow (if you know what the T.V. in the title stands for), but it’s actually way less puerile than many other subsequent Detroitus classics. Anyway, I’m not sure what I can say about this song. It exhibits the sublime beyond words.

Speaking of words, the mondegreen is a key feature of Detroitus—otherwise you wouldn’t get the reference in “Where the Birdmen Fly” by Fun Things. From Brisbane, Australia’s most repressive city (home of the anti-punk police task force immortalized by Razar), not only is their 4-song EP one of the best punk records ever, it pains me to say that it is one of the rarest and most expensive from the land where birdmen flew. The singer/guitarist Brad Shepherd later recounted that he learned about the Stooges and MC5 from an interview with Radio Birdman’s Rob Younger in an Australian music magazine. Shepherd recalled that living in Brisbane, “a suburban nothing,” compelled him to engage in a “puerile attempt just [to] do something.” The band was “Just kicking against a middle class upbringing.” “We just wanted to have fun and impress the girls.” Many did the same thing, no one else did it as brilliantly. It helped that he was listening to the first Birdman LP “every other day” when writing the songs (nb, he now regrets the misogynistic lyrics).

The picture sleeve of Flirt’s single is legendary for depicting the rocker singer, Rockee Re Marx, with baby bump. In “Degenerator,” she critiques the prevailing sexism of the scene: the way women tended to be treated like surf boards. The lyrics are incisive and the guitars are just as sharp. And Rockee rides the word degenerator in the chorus like it’s the surf board on an endless swell. In the worldly realm of accounting, I got ripped off when I traded something truly rare for this not-so-rare record, but metaphysically—which is to say on the plane of the riff—I’m rolling in it.

Speaking of mondegreens, here’s Radio Birdman, who—yeah, hup—are really gonna punch you out with the 1977 Australian version of their classic song “New Race.” With their cryptic logo and a song title like this, apparently some at the time believed the band had fash sympathies. But they always denied it, and I believe them. Reading this song’s lyrics tells you they’re just talking about rocknroll. Deniz Tek, the guitarist of Radio Birdman, was originally from Detroit, where he witnessed the heyday of the Stooges and MC5 before he moved to Sydney. He managed to earn a medical degree there while also nearly single-handedly shaping the Detroitus that pervaded the country. Without Tek, none of this would be possible. The Detroit sound might have remained confined to Michigan, until he proved that it could be elaborated and punkified.

Featuring Wayne Kramer in his itinerant phase, Eddie Criss Group were a bunch of sensitive dirtbags as could be found only on the Lower East Side, led by the handsome Eddie Criss. This record appeared on Orange Records, home to various David Peel projects. Peel, who released an album on Elektra in 1970, like the Stooges, was a pre-punk impresario, radical, and drug aficionado. I doubt I’ll get sued if I suggest Orange Records probably was more dedicated to laundering money than putting out records. Nevertheless, Peel had an ear for the weird and connections galore. After languishing in forgotten obscurity for three decades, the Eddie Criss Group LP got reissued recently (just after I finally tracked down an original). It’s a time capsule of an extremely fleeting moment of the Detroit diaspora that gave us the Detroitus “same ground.”

After Radio Birdman folded, following a disastrous trip to England (hey, I love English punk, but they didn’t really understand Detroit’s gift to the world), singer Rob Younger founded the darker and more brooding New Christs. This version of “Waiting World” is from their first single, released in 1981. It prefigured the dark, goth-adjacent turn a number of Detroitus bands would take as they evolved. The sound here still unmistakably relies on the guitar-driven propulsion, but it’s clear that the Detroitus vibe has arisen autonomously, flown now like a birdman, I suppose.

Hiawatha Bailey was a Black-Native member of the White Panther Party who landed in federal prison with Wayne Kramer and Michael Davis of the MC5 in the mid-1970s and then after his release founded the punk band Cult Heroes and roadied for Ron Asheton’s ‘80s band Destroy All Monsters, all while espousing, in his own phrase, a “Marxist-Leninist Dialectical Materialist” philosophy. I shit you not. He may have also invented the notion of “Positive Mental Attitude,” publishing his ideas in a prison newspaper. So, yes, it was a Black punk who came up with PMA, but it wasn’t a member of Bad Brains. Anyway, Cult Heroes released two singles of politically charged Detroitus. The slow-burning “Berlin Wall” really exhibits the Detroitus sound in the last part, when it speeds up. It’s worth the wait.

Blazing fast from the get-go, New Race’s “Gotta Keep Movin’” is about as ripping as it gets. And the band was the ultimate Detroitus act, featuring Tek, Younger, Birdman bassist Warwick Gilbert, MC5 drummer Dennis Thompson, and Ron Asheton, existing only for a brief tour of Australia and properly documented only through live recordings, where you can smell the sweat, feel the heat, and choke on the cigarette smoke. (Note also Thompson’s incredible drumming.) Perhaps there is no better way to hear the Detroitus sound than in this unmediated fashion, but the ephemerality highlights the problem that afflicted nearly all of Asheton’s post-Stooges work. It’s all genius, but it never got the studio attention needed and thus lives on in urgent but necessarily incomplete form. There are a million reasons why, and no blame need be placed. In retrospect, the rawness now is just part of the vibe. For some of us (me), this is a boon not a drawback.

I have an idea: form a band including stone-cold Detroit geniuses; play dozens of shows over many years; establish a reputation as incomparable, to the point that photos circulate of Iggy himself singing along at gigs; release one 45 with only one song on it; make sure that one song is the best song ever committed to vinyl in the history of the world; and then call it a day. I stole this idea from Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, featuring Stooge Scott Asheton and Fred “Sonic” Smith of the ‘5. Here’s the mono version of “City Slang.” If you died tonight, I think you’d feel satisfied. The only thing preventing you saying you lived life to fullest right now after listening to this is that you wouldn’t be able to listen to it over and over again. If ever the word single were a misnomer, it is with “City Slang,” as no one plays the 45 just once.

Begun in Michigan but relocated to Los Angeles, The Dogs took the Detroit sound to a thuggier and punkier level. “Tough Enough” is, as singer Loren indicates, hard to the core. The Dogs featured a relatively uncommon woman bassist, Mary Caldwell. The band is still going to this day, unstoppable. Check this incredibly blown-out and shit-fi video of them playing a Texas parking lot with Wayne Kramer added to the line-up, recorded about 15 years ago. Kramer had previously joined the band for a live set around 1972. This track was recorded live at the Mab in San Francisco in 1978.

Surprisingly poppy but with Kramer’s inimitable guitar licks, here’s a snotty but uncommonly well-behaved GG Allin with one iteration of the Jabbers, playing “Occupation” or “Occupational Hazard.” This song was supposed to appear on the Orange Records (again!) “Gimme Some Head” single, but GG nixed it. He also lied and said that Dennis Thompson played drums on the recording (hence, the MC2 designation seen in some places). But Thompson was not in the studio. Kramer also did not know that Thompson was slated to be involved. And Kramer did not play guitar on “Gimme Some Head” or “Dead or Alive,” the tracks actually released, though he did sing a tiny bit of back-up vocals on the former. (All of these details are from the high-quality 2019 Blood Orange Rec. reissue of the “Dead or Alive” single, featuring this version of “Occupation,” which had previously been bootlegged on an eponymous lower-quality single.)

Cinecyde had long been a name I’ve noticed on lists of bands and records, but I had always ignored it. Then I listened more closely to this track “Radiation Sickness” from their third EP, which I had sitting in my collection for about 23 years on the fairly random one-off KBD-derivative compilation “Brainkiller.” Bringing to the Detroit sound a bit of a UK snottiness and Ohio-via-New York bravado-as-sleaze, the quick punky track also surprises for its straight-forward and topical approach. This band’s records remain remarkably obtainable and cheap.

The thing about the Detroitus seam I’m mining here is that simply being a Detroit band or claiming a Detroit influence does not suffice. The Projections released one single in 1982 and neither of its tracks qualify. They’re fine, but it is actually this track “I Can Hardly Remember” from their 1982 demo that exhibits the ineffable sound. It’s mostly in the guitars, but it’s also attitude and atmosphere. Cue the analysis of the decline of the Fordist capitalist compact for explanation. I’ve done it before, so I’ll leave it aside today. For now, just breathe it in.

“You Don’t Want My Name” was one of the sex-crazed, drug-fueled post-Funhouse Ron Asheton/Williamson dual guitar–era Stooges tracks that never made it to vinyl at the time but appeared in live sets. Detroit locals recorded the sets on their own handhelds and memorized the tracks, but they were largely lost and unknown. Then, those locals started their own bands, including The Punks, a Stooges-soundalike mid-‘70s act, about whom more another day. This version of “You Don’t Want My Name” was recorded by The Punks after they changed the band name to Matt Gimmick. The song is an homage and also a re-inauguration of the sound, the same ground, of Detroitus. It was to be the Detroit Renaissance ’79.

From Auckland, New Zealand, Henchmen are the only band here besides Fun Things without a six-degrees-of Detroit connection. But they are simply too perfect a specimen to ignore. They eventually moved to the land where birdmen flew anyway. True hoodlums with a menacing appearance and a violent sound to match, their interpretation of the Detroitus vibe perfected it. “Rock & Roll Attack” was recorded in 1981, sorta late for the trend but also already more intense than nearly any new hardcore punk that was filtering onto the airwaves by then. It’s as good as it gets.

After the Stooges proper, Ron Asheton played in few bands. That’s one of the reasons we’re here. New Order was the first among them. (New Race came later, as did New Christs, which both featured Younger. The New Christs did not, could not, feature the chosen one, the old christ, the guitar messiah—Ron.) Along with Jimmy Recca of the post-Funhouse, pre-Raw Power Stooges on bass and Dennis Thompson on the kit, the line-up was unstable. And no recording made it to the finished stage. But the B-side of the eventual album that came out on a French label mostly dedicated to Stooges bootlegs should be the stuff of rocknroll legend. Instead, to the extent most people really remember the band, it’s because Lester Bangs mentioned them in his critical account of the race politics of punk. Whether they were actually Nazi sympathizers, particularly on the three songs from ‘76 on the B-side of the French LP “Declaration of War,” with the otherwise largely forgotten drug-addicted Dave Gilbert on vocals, is difficult to discern. Much the same could be said of the far more famous and British New Order. Flirtations, perhaps. Mostly, they seemed too zooed out to care about anything other than initiating a new order of rocknroll (they didn’t, but punk did, but that’s another story, a story about race fundamentally, but what isn’t in the US anyway?).
One of these three tracks, “Rocknroll Soldiers,” contains these indelible lyrics
‘Cause we are the rock and roll soldiers

Rock and roll will keep you alive

We’d never give in

It would be a sin

In the war against the jive

In the war against thе jive

In the war against the jive.
The right-wing-ish but knowledgeable and occasionally insightful fanzine and blog Black to Comm, named after an MC5 track, might say that what I’m calling Detroitus here is really just a campaign in the ever-ongoing war against the jive. But all of this is prelude to “Of Another World,” perhaps the most psychedelic and, um, otherworldly track Ron Asheton ever recorded. It does the maelstrom. Heartbreakingly beautiful lyrics about love, riffs, noise modulations, riffs, solo squeals, heartbreaks, beauty, lyrics, riffs. What more does one need? I think I have listened to this song more than any other song since I picked up this record in 2016. Here, on mp3, the originally unmastered track leaves a lot to be desired in fidelity, but let that only be a spur to you obtaining the vinyl. Revel in the Detroitus. I can’t quit ya.

La Vida Es Un Mus Radio on NTS2 (2023)

UK DIY Special


Devils Hole Gang “Free the People”
The Idiots “Julie”
They Must Be Russians “Psychoanalysis”
First Offence “Hammer and Sickle”
Hit Parade “This Is What You Find in Any Prison”
Base “Violent Death”
Petticoats “Paranoia”
Thin Yoghurts “Girl on the Bus”
Restricted Hours “Getting Things Done”
Vain Aims “Count”
Scrotum Poles “Helicopter Honeymoon”
The Door And The Window “I Like Sound”
Spunky Onions “How I Lost My Virginity”
Michael Barton, The Groovers “Right Money”
Danny & The Dressmakers “Don't Make Another Bassguitar Mr Rickenbaker”
You “Wrecker’s Song”
What Is Oil? “Human Suffering”
Vital Disorders “Prams”
Xtraverts “Police State (Version 2)”
Double Stilton & Red Leicester Aka The Agitators “On Your Last Trip to Earth”
Four Plugs “Biking Partner”
Clone 81 “Victim of Society”

Also available on Soundcloud

La Vida Es Un Mus Radio on NTS2 (2022)

Stuart Schrader guest DJ set on La Vida Es Un Mus Radio on NTS2, June 3, 2022

The Queers “We’d Have a Riot Doing Heroin” (USA, 1982)
Ebba Grön “Ung & Sänkt” (Sweden, 1978)
The Thought Criminals “Fun” (Australia, 1978)
Longport Buzz “Fun” (UK, 1980)
Riot .303 “Drugs” (Canada, 1982)
Wallsockets “H&C” (New Zealand, 1980)
Chron Gen “LSD” (UK, 1982)
TDK “La Farmacia De Mi Barrio” (Spain, 1985)
Suspense “Heroin Child” (Netherlands, 1981)
Simpletones “I Like Drugs” (USA, 1979)
The Past “Teenage Terrorist on Dope” (Sweden, 1989)
Accident on the East Lancs “We Want It Legalised” (UK, 1978)
Serious Drinking “Country Girl Became Drugs and Sex Punk” (UK, 1984)
Anti-State Control “Glue Sniffing Blues” (UK, 1983)
The Transistors “Sniffing Glue” (UK, 1981)
!Action Pact! “Suicide Bag” (UK, 1982)
Amsterdamned “Dope” (Netherlands, 1982)
The Insults “Just a Doper” (UK, 1979, released 1999)
Fiends “Asian White” (USA, 1982)
Reagan Youth “Degenerated” (USA, 1985, released 1994)
The Injections “Hey Brother” (USA, 1980)
Trolebus “Cuando La Psicodelia Llegó Al D.F.” (Mexico, 1987)
Ruts “H-Eyes” (UK, 1979)
Bloodmobile “Drug-Related Death” (USA, 1983)
Gauze “ドラッグアディクト” (Japan, 1982)
Civil Dissident “The Legal Dose” (Australia, 1985)
Perverts “Drogbåg” (Sweden, 1980)
Rondos “We Don’t Need No Speed” (Netherlands, 1980)
Agent Orange “Dope” (Netherlands, 1983)

This radio show is dedicated to Michel Bastarache, without whom none of this would have been possible.

Thanks to Paco, Clint, Martin, and Yecatl, all experts on songs about drugs who never take drugs.

The only drug more addictive than heroin is the impossible-to-find self-released U.S. punk single, and the Queers, from the drug-strewn New Hampshire seacoast, put out two of them, both a bit late for the trend. Here is the glistening 60-second opening track off their first one—a copy of which recently sold for over three grand (with $1.99 pricetag still affixed)—“We’d Have a Riot Doing Heroin.” I’m not sure which they make sound better, dope or rioting: the essence of Live Free or Die.

Ebba Grön were the among the first true punk bands in Sweden, forming on the edge of Stockholm in 1978 and recording their first 45 while drunk at 9 o’clock in the morning, according to a drunk Swedish guy who spilled the tea and stole my beer. Both songs are on the “jag hatar kapitalism” tip, but the B-side, “Ung & Sänkt,” celebrates buying drugs with your pitiful proletarian paycheck—because you don’t have to pay taxes on them.

Sydney’s Thought Criminals will be forever a record collector’s nightmare: a band made up of record collectors, whose thought crime was to release a few records you’ll never even see in person before you just give up and get into drugs instead. More fun than that? More fun than the next time? (Not me talking about the times I’ve tried and failed to trade my Isuzu for this record.)

A bunch of skinny tie–wearing teenage mods from the town of Canterbury, Longport Buzz’s idea of fun was getting lagered up downtown, either at the grammar school on Longport Street, or across the road in the churchyard. The lads even recorded two versions of this powerpopper; believe it or not this is the punker of the two, where they reveal their dark and twisted fantasies: to grow up and have sex.

Oh, Calgary’s Riot .303 fantasized about getting to riot, but all they got to do was get high. But it’s hard to repress their snarling, energetic, up-tempo punk, just this side of hardcore. They wished they were Vancouver’s Subhumans, but instead of packing pipes with explosives, they packed them with scag. Recently reissued by punx who would be better off using the song as a how-to manual and selling me their records to fund the enterprise.

My god, what narcotized anarchy unfolded in Wellington in 1980? The Wallsockets recorded four of the purest punk songs of all time, each about drugs of one form or another, and these absolute beatific souls, to prove to the world what H+C might make a person do, stole the riff from Ron Asheton. And when I say they stole the riff, I mean they stole THE riff (itself probably stolen by Ron, but that’s a story for another time). From Ron’s hand to my ears, via a compilation called “****” pressed in 250 copies on Sausage Records, I’d rather get high and die than have lived an entire life without hearing this song.

Chron Gen were so popular that no one listens to them anymore. From their dayglo 1982 LP, “LSD” is a pretty much perfect genre exercise, perhaps proving how punk they were by defying punk expectations and heralding the virtues of getting wrecked on a hippie drug. (Don’t worry, mate, they also sing about speed and heroin.)

TDK (or Terrorismo, Destrucción y Kaos, three of my favorite things) hailed from a Madrid barrio where the only pharmacy was the one selling uppers and downers. So, naturally, they wrote a song about it, released on an LP in 1985 that is pretty good (the track also came out as a single). TDK had a number of subsequent releases, but the split 7" they released the prior year with Panaderia Bolleria Nuestra Señora Del Karmen is one of the greatest all-time in the two categories of underappreciated ‘80s hardcore punk records and records featuring a band named after a bakery.

To be honest, I’m not sure if “Heroin Child” is a lamentation or exultation, but either way if you’re into violence, drugs, children, or violent drug-addicted children, the Suspense boys (né Neo Punkz) have something for you. From Haarlem, their “Murder With The Axe” ep remains difficult to obtain without committing homicide. I’ll drop Walter’s address in the comments if you need a lead on someone who’s holding and still living.

Was there anyone in Los Angeles County in the late ‘70s who didn’t like drugs? On most days, “I Like Drugs” by Simpletones ranks as the best punk song about drugs. No frills, but you get more than what you pay for in snot. Eternal gratitude to Mr. B for introducing me to this one 20 years ago, on a CDR of classic KBD-style punk that had never appeared on a KBD comp.

The Past were, well, living in the past, maaan, when they released this punky track in 1989. Better known for their earlier lyrical genius—rhyming “Reagan Reagan what an ass” with “Reagan Reagan give him gas”—The Past managed to keep it poetic in “Teenage Terrorist on Dope” as they decried the way polite society treated youthful punk rockers as incorrigible druggies (by 1989, methinks they were no longer quite so youthful, but as another track on the record notes, these dudes were “born to be bad.”).

“Our cause is fighting your laws!” Legal eagles Accident on the East Lancs offered a modest proposal on their first single from 1979, self-released on Roach Records: legalize it! John Peel approved. Alas, Maggie wouldn’t budge. And Accident on the East Lancs went the way of so many shining stars of the class of ’79: onto the wantlist of guys named Dieter from places like Düsseldorf.

Ur-English Serious Drinking unspool so classic a tale that it must have originated with Shakespeare: girl from the country moves to the big city, cuts her hair, sleeps with members of big punk bands, and gets into drugs—and squatting. This is punk rock for grown-up theater kids, and I’m not sure how to process the feelings I have when I start toe-tapping. I guess I’ll drown them in glue.

Speaking of, we now enter the glue-sniffing portion of our journey together. Sadly, anyone and everyone who had encountered Anti-State Control’s nearly hardcore single back in the day completely forgot about its existence for around two decades. I wonder why. But a keen-nosed collector sniffed it out, and the blues descended, as sad boys like Dieter in Düsseldorf tried and failed to track down a copy.

The Transistors released two awesome singles, leather, bristles, studs, and acne galore. The first (from ’81), featuring this riffy ripper about Evostik, is guaranteed to get you high. (From ’85, their second has an interesting feature: the singer appears to be imitating what he imagines some baritone Swedish or Brazilian hardcore vocalists must have sounded like without having ever heard them.)

Although !Action Pact!’s “Suicide Bag,” is probably the best-known British punk song about huffing glue, it is actually anti-. Somehow George and the gang still make the suicide bag sound pretty appealing, so I had to include the track here.

I’m not sure what city Amsterdamned were from, but “Dope” appeared on the first “Als Je Haar Maar Goed Zit” compilation album, released in 1982. There were a few classic styles of punk emanating from the Netherlands at this time, and riff-laden, catchy, but tough punk, just-this-side of hardcore, was one specialty. Amsterdamned stood out for combining male and female vocals. This song is probably anti-drug, but I’ll pretend the lyrics aren’t in English and I don’t know what they are saying.

From near Monterey, California, The Insults rate among the most gonzo US punk bands of the late ‘70s. They released two very rare singles and left behind an unreleased LP-length recording, which Dr. Roger Mah put out on vinyl in 1999, two decades after it was recorded. This version of their hilarious “I’m Just a Doper” appeared on that unreleased LP. Two members of the band went on to play in Plain Jane & the Jokes, whose LP I found in a store while waiting for a table at a restaurant called The Loose Noodle.

One of the first old hardcore punk recordings I ever got into was the “New York Thrash” compilation, which was still widely available on cassette from ROIR in the early 1990s. At the time, I didn’t fully grasp what “Asian White” was about, but to this day, it remains one of my favorite songs. It seems fitting that the Fiends never really did much more than record a couple of incredible tracks in the early ‘80s and then disappear. Rumors abound regarding their whereabouts, but I think we all know what happened.

And the first 7" I remember buying, even before I owned a turntable, was the Reagan Youth live bootleg that includes this rough-sounding 1985 version of “Degenerated.” That bootleg had some questionable artistic choices—to the uninitiated, let’s say it made Reagan Youth seem a bit less anti-Klan than they were—but it also sent me down the pathway of seeking ever more obscure recordings. I appreciate Dave Insurgent’s honesty here: this song is about doing drugs in Queens. Unfortunately, only a year or two before that bootleg came out, he had succumbed to his own demons at age 28, after his girlfriend was murdered by a serial killer and his father accidentally killed his mother.

This is getting dark, so we might as well continue the downward spiral with San Diego’s most incredible abolitionist, drug-dealing, Baskin Robbins–robbing punk band, The Injections. The lyrics to “Hey Brother” also concern lives lost amid the wreckage of the Reagan Revolution, but the track is too good to ignore. In an alternate version of reality (the better one), the Injections would be the Germs and Darby would be a footnote.

The trolebus system of gantry-powered buses in Mexico City first opened in the 1950s, preceding the sprawling subway by more than a decade. It was a cheap, low-emission way for workers to cross the growing metropolis. Today, it remains a rare gringo-free zone in the city. Trolebus, the band, are similarly almost unknown to gringos (sorry muchachos for blowing up the spot). They play punk-tinged city rock, dense with sardonic references to the particularities of Chilango life. This song, about the arrival of the psychedelic scene in the city a decade earlier, has a magnificent but buried guitar sound, almost Chosen Few–like in its riffage.

The Ruts were among the first streetpunk bands: tough, austere, working-class, pathfinding to a subterranean form of anti-racist socialist realism, no matter what the punters preferred. Their singer, Malcolm Owen, also had a nasty heroin habit that would ultimately kill him in 1980. The heartbreaking song “H-Eyes” was prophecy.

I don’t know anything about Bloodmobile, except that they appeared on the infamous North Carolina compilation 7" “Why Are We Here?” in 1983 before disappearing without leaving any other tracks behind. What a perfect ‘80s US hardcore ripper!

Here’s Gauze: the longest-lived DIY hardcore punk band, which just released its sixth album last year. This track was the first one on their first release, a set of ten tunes on the “City Rocker” compilation in 1982. The title translates to something like “drug addict,” and it’s a 43-second Discharge-inspired rager.

Civil Dissident from Melbourne were among the best Australian hardcore punk bands (not a lot of competition, to be honest…sorry mates). “The Legal Dose” appeared on their 3-song EP in 1985, but inexplicably is not included with the rest of that session released by Prank Records a decade later on LP.

A shortlived Göteborg punk band, Perverts released two singles, featuring a couple luminaries of that city’s scene, Freddie Wadling and the impeccably named (for our purposes) Mats Drougge of Liket Lever. “Drogbåg” appeared on their second release. I’ll forever remain an addict of songs like this, a real sick pervert willing to do unspeakable things to obtain records like this.

The two most important hardcore punk bands of all time both said “we don’t need no speed” to play faster and harder than bands like The Clash: Bad Brains and Rondos. OK. Take a deep breath. I said what I said. (Discharge is a separate case.) Rotterdam’s Rondos released two versions of this track. This is the second, from their “Red Attack” LP. That drum solo is the sound of exiling all intellectuals to the countryside for forced labor and re-education.

The nihilistic Amsterdam yin to the Rondos’ Rotterdam Maoist yang, Agent Orange were, simply put, the best. If the guitar solo doesn’t make you want to snort some speed and kill the police, I feel sorry for you.

Guest Set La Vida Es Un Mus Radio on NTS2 (2021)

Stuart Schrader guest DJ set on La Vida Es Un Mus Radio on NTS2, October 22, 2021


Eppu Normaali “Poliisi Pamputtaa Taas” (Finland, 1978)
Fiendens Musik “En Spark Rätt I Skallen” (Sweden, 1978)
Squad “Red Alert” (United Kingdom, 1978)
The Coils “Smash the Front” (United Kingdom, 1978?)
Los Violadores “Represión” (Argentina, 1983)
Outo Elämä “ANC” (Finland, 1980)
Warheads “Today Can’t Be Worser Than Tomorrow” (Sweden, 1980)
Γενιά Του Χάους “Μπασταρδοκρατία” (Greece, 1984)
Spermicide “Police” (Belgium (1980?)
Distortion “Frustrerad” (Sweden, 1982)
Electric Deads “Compact Chaos” (Denmark, 1982)
Tant Strul “Tomheten” (Sweden, 1980)
Fancy Rosy “Punk Police” (Germany, 1977)
Ruth “Mescalito” (France, 1978)
Screaming Urge “Killa Poe Leese” (USA, 1982)
Disorder “Civilization” (Netherlands, 1981)
Los Laxantes “Vacaciones en Irlanda” (Argentina, 1981)
UDS “Ma Che Bella Società” (Italy, 1983)
Handgrenades “Murder” (USA, 1979)
The Eat “Communist Radio” (USA, 1979)
The Sound “Missiles” (United Kingdom, 1980)

Track Descriptions

I figured I should begin with either the best anti-cop song ever written or the best punk song ever written—wait, they’re the same song! Eppu Normaali’s “Poliisi Pamputtaa Taas” is about police violence, and it’s an unbelievable combination of snarl and hooks. This version is from their first LP, which is perhaps one notch inferior to the previously released, slightly rawer single version.

I’ve written extensively about the English-language version of this honkin’ track by Fiendens Musik, called “A Boot Right in the Face,” so here is the Swedish-language original version. The song narrates the type of random, frequently right-wing street violence that was a predominant feature of everyday life for punks, leftists, queer folks, immigrants, and people of color in the l970s and early 1980s.

An obscure short-lived Coventry punk band that shared a member with The Specials (though he wasn’t on this recording), Squad released two 45s. Here’s their track “Red Alert,” in which the singer sagely admonishes us not to trust the man.

The Coils, a forgotten band from the class of ’77, were hindered slightly by a mush-mouthed singer, but the key part of the chorus here is fortunately comprehensible: “Smash the Front!” Coils played on the Anti-Nazi League benefit circuit, and this testament to their opposition to the National Front, unearthed by Dizzy Detour for the Bored Teenagers compilation series, is available nowhere else online.

Los Violadores became the best-known Argentine punk band around the world in the 1980s. The anthemic track “Represión,” from their first LP, documents everyday life in the waning years of the military dictatorship.

From Joensuu, in southeastern Finland, Outo Elämä issued a lone lo-fi single in 1980, which depicts a fist smashing a swastika on the cover. The B-side was this anti-Apartheid track, “ANC,” celebrating the African National Congress.

Revel in the optimism of Warheads, a tough Swedish punk band, who suggest that surely today can’t be worser than tomorrow. This track appeared on the “Let It Out” compilation LP in 1980.

Repressive and conservative Greece did not have a big punk scene, comparatively speaking, but its bands produced perhaps the most cohesive and recognizable sound in Europe. The Enigma Records compilation LP “Διατάραξη Κοινής Ησυχίας” documented that sound in 1984, and Γενιά Του Χάους, or Chaos Generation, contributed two tracks. “Μπασταρδοκρατία,” or Bastardocracy, perfectly captures the band’s melancholic and anxious vibe.

Belgium’s Spermicide sang in French but recorded and released their only single in England, collaborating with the Newtown Neurotics (my favorite band most days of the week). This track, “Police,” remained unreleased until it appeared on the compilation “Bloodstains Across Belgium vol. III”; I’ve never seen it posted online.

Distortion were another tough Swedish punk band, verging on hardcore punk (thanks to the influence of Motörhead, I assume), who released an EP in 1982 and then disappeared without a trace. Here’s “Frustrerad,” the record’s opening track, actually recorded in Norway, which is about tfw u try to find a copy of this rarity.

No other band on earth sounds like Electric Deads from Denmark. Unbelievably powerful, high-tension hardcore punk. Here’s their mid-tempo banger, “Compact Chaos,” from their first EP, self-released in 1982. My last will & testament stipulates that I be buried with this record.

Early on, Sweden’s Tant Strul were more punk than wave, but they went on to release half a dozen new wave records. From their first single, issued in 1980, “Tomheten,” or The Emptiness, is a dark wave track before darkwave was a thing.

Among the cognoscenti, Fancy Rosy’s track “Punk Police” gets classified as “fake punk,” but its genre-bending combination of disco and punk, plus Rosy’s sultry persona, makes it feel pretty real to me. From what I’ve heard, Rosy was a Puerto Rican model, but she lived in Germany at the time this single was released there and in the Netherlands.

Truly unique, combining synth and other electronic noises with early punk, Ruth was on the fringes of the French punk scene in the late 1970s, with this track appearing as her lone release at the time, on the compilation LP “125 Grammes De 33 1/3 Tours.” I was surprised to learn, however, that Ruth was a gender-queer persona adopted by the artist Thierry Müller.

With one of my favorite anti-cop songs, here’s Screaming Urge, from Columbus, Ohio. This screamingly urgent track appeared on their superior second LP, recorded in 1981 and released the next year.

Of the Disorders, the one from the Netherlands may have been the most explicitly anti-imperialist. The band put out only one six-song EP that contains what I once referred to as “one of those guitar sounds that makes us grown record collectors weep.” Still true after all these—sniffle—years.

Los Laxantes were one of the first Argentine punk bands, and their early recordings did not make it to vinyl for nearly 25 years. This snotty track, “Vacaciones en Irlanda,” fascinates me: it’s about how oppressive the British are in Northern Ireland. Yet it predates the Falklands War. It’s actually an expression of international solidarity and is not simply Anglophobia. Given how terrible everyday life could be during the military dictatorship, with conditions much like what the song describes in Northern Ireland, the song can also be read as an oblique critique of their home country.

On the left-wing side of the Oi! spectrum, here’s UDS, from Torino, who released only two tracks on vinyl during their short existence. Here’s “Ma Che Bella Società” from 1983.

With a single 45 to their name, Handgrenades were the New York band that most closely resembled the classic UK DIY sound. A couple years ago, two previously unreleased tracks appeared on a 12"; here’s one of them, called “Murder.”

Florida goddamn! The Eat, from Hialeah, near Miami, released their incandescent first single in 1979, containing the track “Communist Radio,” which about my favorite subject: global political warfare during the Cold War. A single line of the song’s lyrics tells you more about the mysteries of punk than any book ever could: “See guerrilla wanna rock ‘n’ roll.”

Finally, The Sound’s first LP contains what must be one of the most intense and brilliantly original anti-war tracks I’ve ever heard, “Missiles.” In fact, I had never heard this song until pretty recently, making it a good reminder of why my addiction persists: the endless quest for obscure tunes from the late 1970s and early 1980s. ‘Til the next fix.

Evaporate Your Brain

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If you read what I write about music, you know that my obsession for a while has been the question of the 1970s. What happened in that decade? Why did punk happen when it did? Why did it sound like it sounded? If I sound like a broken record when talking about records, it’s because the question becomes harder and harder to answer the more I learn about the inchoate worlds of underground (and other) rock music in the decade. One entry-point that is a growing field of interest is private-press, post-Sabbath, post-hippie, pre-punk hard rock, related to but arguably distinct from the terrain mapped by Acid Archives. In this realm, the question of why metal happened when it did also arises. There is a stronger through-line, or at least a less distinct moment to separate the antediluvian and the rest, when it comes to metal. And, arguably, all metal after punk is inherently different from all of its antecedents before punk. Which makes the occurrence of punk seem that much more cataclysmic.

Anyway, whereas the terrain of the post-cataclysm world has been well-mapped, we are only now beginning to get a reasonably complete picture of what came before. As an answer to Killed by Death/Bloodstains/Back to Front, collectors now are putting together compilations of the unpretentious pre-punk underground, and reissues abound. If the retrospective style-definition of Killed by Death raises problems for some purists, then the analogous work for hard rock is even more vexed. Where to draw the lines? What gets lumped together artificially? How do links of region and nation confuse rather than reveal? Most people don’t care, and they just want riffs. It’s a salutary position. It’s what I have attempted to adopt here in this mixtape. I've leaned toward the desolate, the depressed, and the downbeat. Melancholia was certainly not the only emotion to be found during the decade, but it seems the most appropriate emotion for the interregnum between hippie and punk, even if it hides the exuberant wildcat rebellions that persisted throughout the period. The feeling of being left out of the action, though, expressed in much of this music, did get reconfigured with punk, which said emphatically that no one would be left out if everyone did it all themselves.

But if you want to drive yourself nuts wondering if what you’re listening to is proto-punk, proto-doom, proto-metal, psych, hard rock, “bonehead,” etc., start with a few recent compilations: the “Bonehead Crunchers/Crushers” series on Belter, followed by two volumes called “Ultimate Bonehead!” released in the past couple weeks; “Casting the Runes” and “Do What Thou Wilt” on Electric Pentacle; “Darkscorch Canticles” on Numero; the two volumes of “Michigan Meltdown” on Coney Dog; the particularly spurious concept-wise “Angel Dust Psychedelia” on Frisco Speedball; and the “Downer-Rock Genocide” CD (yuck) on Audio Archives. There may be others. All have gems; all are imperfect. I have drawn from several of these compilations, and a few other sources here. In case you, Shit-Fi fan, are wondering, the two Electric Pentacle volumes of all UK bands tend toward the lo-fi end of the spectrum. One note: I have excluded glam from this mixtape. Glam represents a relatively discrete and well-known tributary to punk (and 80s metal). I’m seeking here a more obscure, indistinct, incomplete tributary. It may not reveal much, but at least it sounds good. In the end, genealogy is never enough. But the backward glance can help contextualize, even as it may make it difficult to appreciate these records on their own terms. In the meantime, evaporate your brain.*

About the songs:

Like many people—record collectors and norms alike—I was deeply affected by Searching for Sugarman, a documentary that operated on many levels, social, political, and, uh, vinyl. Light in the Attic Records has done a great job of making Sixto Rodriguez’s music available to the wide audience he deserves. I can’t add much to the acclaim he’s received except to say that the fuzz riff on “Only Good for Conversation” is as cutting as they come. None of his other songs sounds like this one, yet it also couldn’t be anyone else’s. Just brilliant, if not exactly a private press.

On the second Electric Pentacle volume, “Casting the Runes,” a dim, underpolished Barnabus appeared with three tracks. “Resolute” is the best of the bunch, an ineffably fragile, tormented track that is continually on the verge of falling apart—emotionally, structurally—and then the riff returns and we are back on momentarily solid ground.  

Only a one-off 1972 teenage hard rock band from Rockford, Michigan (just north of Grand Rapids), could deem it appropriate to name their band Music and call their barely distributed private-press LP “The Book of Music Volume 1.” The thing is that the unbelievable range and world-weariness-beyond-their-years visible on this track, “My Side of the Mountain,” makes it one of the most compelling riff-monsters I have ever heard. Not every song on the record is this ripping, but they did helpfully label its sides “(Light)” and “(Heavy).” Grand Funk, step aside and learn you some Music.

Wrath stands out among 70s private-press 45s for having a woman belting out the tune—"Warlord." The story told, on the estimable compilation of such wonders "Darkscorch Canticles" from Numero, is that the singer was a last-minute fill-in when the regular singer was laid low by illness: by Satan, of course, because who else would have had the foresight to take this teenage fantasy to the next level? I wonder who got to keep the rhyming dictionary after the divorce.

One of a multitude of tracks called “Wild Boys” (Geizz, anyone?), this one is a Kim Fowley (RIP, ya creep) creation, in collaboration with a guy called Neil Norman who cut tracks for science-fiction soundtracks in the 1970s. It can be found on the first "Bonehead Crunchers" compilation.

Here’s a track by the totally forgotten (or never known) TNS, “Time’s Up.” Basement rock, in the red, what more do you need? It’s hidden on the second volume of “Michigan Meltdown.” Here’s my fantasy: though younger, they attended the very same Grand Rapids–area high school as Music and were trying to Stooge up the local sound that had veered too close to hippie. Isn’t it pretty to think so? Can you imagine the mayhem of detention at that school?

Indigenous to, uh, England, Sioux released a sleazy stomper of a record through the pay-to-play label SRT. Says Robin Wills, they were “stuck between a Hard Rock place and ineptitude.” That is pretty much exactly where I want my eardrums these days. 

“Troublemaker” by Chris Zebby Tembo & Ngozi Family is definitely the heaviest track released in Zambia in the 1970s. Just punishing lo-fi postcolonial melancholia here. I still wish I’d published that 5,000-plus-word article called “How (Not) to Write About African Psych” I began working on eight years ago, but it’s probably moot now.

Egor must be one of the best of the hundreds of 70s British bands inspired by Sabbath but without a release of their own. This track, “Street,” from a 1971 live recording is their only track circulating, and for my money it is one of the absolute best Sabbath-acolyte tunes. Just when you think the tune is losing steam and they have run out of ideas and you’re bored of the boogie direction it’s going in, and you’re considering going outside for a smoke, and you’re talking to your mate about some lass, it transitions into a counterpart, a reinvention, with a riff that commands your full attention. Incredible. By the way, the brilliant guitarist was only 16 years old at the time, and, even stranger, another member of this London band came to play in a reformed, 1990s version of T2, the absolute best British prog band of the early 1970s I have heard. 

To close, here is the mysterious Stonewall, about whom I’ve waxed before. A certain former interlocutor who shall remain nameless once exclaimed about a 70s punk song he did not recognize, “What is this sex music?” He had clearly never really heard punk, nor probably had sex. Anyway, the point is this: these macho longhairs, in Stonewall, they know what sex music is.


* Far more knowledgeable sources on some of this type of music are: and




Intelectual Punks*

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Punk rockers have long loathed scholarly analysis of their subculture. There are many good reasons for this loathing, not the least of which is the massive amount of craptastic analysis, scholarly and otherwise, of punk over the years. More and more scholarship, however, continues to appear about the subculture—though not necessarily about the music itself. One of the chief problems is that punk itself has an inward-looking discourse about itself (and a belief that outsiders, those who weren’t or aren’t there couldn’t understand), much as the parameters of scholarly inquiry can be exclusionary to those not already trained in how to read them. Thus we often find two forms of discourse with a large space between them, filled by mistrust of scholars by punks, as well as by a range of demands upon scholarship that have little to do with appeasing the often unappeasable punks. Still, many punk rockers, or former punk rockers, have made successful careers in academia, and they want to write about it. As someone who has been writing about punk rock for more than half my life, but also as someone who is becoming a professional academic historian (or historically minded interdisciplinary scholar, if that distinction matters), I find myself increasingly dissatisfied with both the auto-archival mode of punk writing about itself as well as by the semi-distant scholarly mode of writing about punk. That is my own problem, not anyone else’s, but the gulf between the two forms of writing, and therefore knowledge production, is real. It perhaps cannot be overcome, nor should anyone lose sleep over it. Still, I would say to scholars that it might be you have more to learn from punk rockers than the other way around. Indeed, the rejection of scholarly analysis itself is a finding. Try to understand it! On the other hand, not everything written about punk rock by someone with a PhD is bullshit.

One of many folks’ pet peeves within punk today (and among punks within the academy) is the repetitiveness of punk historiography, which too frequently continues to focus on the same old stories, same geographies, same characters. Certainly there are always new angles on old stories, but there are also many new avenues of inquiry to take. The massively increased access to punk archives afforded by reissues, blogs, online archives, YouTube, traditional historical repositories and archives collecting punk ephemera, and even marketplaces like eBay and Discogs, calls out for rethinking what constitutes punk’s foundations evidentially, temporally, and spatially.

There are innumerable subjects within the broad umbrella of punk that could/should be investigated. To catalog the subjects for study would be impossible, but I believe far more needs to be written about the following (focusing on the 1970s and 1980s): the relationship between punk and neoliberalization; punk and the Cold War; punk in the Third World; punk and deindustrialization; pseudo-punk or punk cash-in music and movies, particularly outside the North Atlantic; the general transformation of rock music coincident with punk; punk/queer intersections; blackness and punk; pre- and proto-punk music; punk fanzines, flyers, badges, and other ephemera; punk and the Left; the contemporaneity of punk and hip-hop; punk and violence (eg, someone needs to write about the effects on Los Angeles’s punk scene of the Hillside Strangler murders); punk’s declension narrative (ie, why it’s wrong); punk sounds (in terms of playing, recording, production, reproduction); punk in pornography; the circulation networks (DIY and otherwise) of punk music and ideas; punk archives and archiving; cover songs; and the how and why of the memory, history, and citation of punk within punk. There are surely many others. The internet’s archival resources and connections can facilitate much of this research, which would have been far more difficult earlier. (I have, I suppose, been doing some of this work on Shit-Fi for several years now, and some of these have already been subjects of others’ analyses.)

A recent issue of the interdisciplinary academic journal Social Text bears the title “Punk and Its Afterlives.” There is some good stuff in the journal, which has also published articles on punk previously. One of the orienting principles of the issue is to reject both the linear-diffusion story of punk (it began in London/New York and then spread elsewhere, but the origins were its most true/authentic moments) as well as a compensatory effort to put the margins in the center (punk in some place distant from London/New York deserves to be central to the story).

I agree that this is useful principle. (And I apologize for veering toward academic-speak now.) Yet I also worry about the implicit antifoundationalism here. Rather than a rejection, more useful would be a historicization. It is important to explain how punk emerged across spaces and times, how and why the uneven geographic development of capitalism in the 1970s and 1980s affected its conditions of possibility—and how punk tells us something about those in return. Although I don’t believe the empirical evidence supports the claim that punk began in London/New York and then spread geographically outward from those places, if it did not, why not? In what ways are typical categories like urban and rural, or metropole and periphery, rendered less analytically salient in an examination of punk? Why was it that the “first” punk bands in many so-called Third World locales sang in English and tried to sound like British bands? To understand this phenomenon, as well as the ones that do not fit, requires not just a rejection of diffusion stories but close attention to race and class dynamics across neo-imperial geographies and also within places.

The editors of the issue of Social Text quote Golnar Nikpour’s masterful review of White Riot. She makes the point that the volume White Riot tries to escape a comparative mode, which has bedeviled so many of the participants in punk’s memorialization. The book, for her, still falls short: “If the purpose of the study is not to compile and compare ‘experiences,’ however, but rather to provide a geographically contextualized, historically attentive study of how punk scenes are implicated in, produced by, and absorbed into racialized structures of power—and of course they are—White Riot misses the mark.” Social Text’s issue tries to avoid this pitfall, and actually succeeds.

But there is something more to be said about comparison. Yes, we can recognize that old punks ranting (comparatively) about how the present is not as good as the past is uninteresting. We can also recognize that the anxious comparison of British to, say, French punk by British punks for the purpose of insulting French punk as inadequate is also uninteresting. But we should think about how comparison itself has been a mode of punk’s production and reproduction. The reason a comparison of experiences of punk in New York and Oslo, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, or Peoria does not work is simply that those experiences were linked and coproduced. Linked, they were, by the uneven fabric of a capitalist world-system, whose many facets punks opposed and refracted in varying but not random ways. But they were also linked by the acts of comparison that is the unfolding of punk’s dialectic. The bricolage that is said to have defined the punk aesthetic also defined the collisions, reformulations, mistranslations, and imitations of the world-scale punk mosaic across and through the capitalist (and, indeed, state-socialist, as if that distinction mattered much by then) world-system. Innovation, like the development of hardcore punk, occurred through comparison. It was something historical actors did, not simply something analysts now do retrospectively. To take comparison as an object of analysis, not simply a method, would open fresh lines of inquiry into punk's historical past and present.

I started to work on this mixtape after reading Social Text’s issue on punk. I thought it might be a useful counterpoint and complement to the mixtape the journal produced. Last weekend I participated in a series of panels organized by Patrick Deer and Sukhdev Sandhu on the theme of “punk and the city.” These panels were part of the American Comparative Literature Association annual meeting. It was my first time talking about punk in a strictly academic context. It was a bit weird for me, as someone who has written and thought about punk for so long but for different purposes, yet it was rewarding. Deer is one of the co-editors of the issue of Social Text and Sandhu is a friend and the organizer of the Colloquium for Unpopular Culture, where I previously talked about the Rondos, in a semi-academic but mostly just nerdy fashion.

At last weekend’s panel, petulantly, like a proper punk rocker, I rejected the framing of “punk and the city” at the outset and presented some of my thoughts that you may have already read here on the relationship between the punk explosion and the rise of neoliberalization/changes in the capital-labor relationship in the 1970s. Anyway, I emerged from the experience having met some great people and having heard some really interesting and provocative ideas about punk rock. So, in return, out of gratitude, I send my love (and Molotov cocktail too), with this mixtape of mostly crude and obscure tunes. It includes some of my favorite songs to get you dancing the pogo and doing the strangle (and, uh, some other songs), but I think these bands/songs are also worth considering as we continue to rethink/reevaluate punk’s complex and fascinating history. Once you academic types have listened to these songs, I have 77,777 more for you to check out before you write your next peer-reviewed article.

About the songs:

Among the first punk records released in Belgium, certainly the first sung in Flemish, definitely the first released independently, Basta’s single is a riff-laden, saxophone-laced landmark. The song “Abortus Vrij, de Vrouw Beslist” is about abortion rights, and the record’s sleeve includes information on women’s health clinics across Belgium. The song title invokes a slogan used in protests at the time, still deployed or reworked today by socialist-feminist activists. This record poses difficulties for the typical narrative of punk’s emergence: corporate collaboration followed by resolute anti-corporate independence. It’s not simply the other way around, Basta was not even on that track.

To rethink the typical New York-London, rise-fall narrative, it is useful to think with the Desperate Bicycles, the most important “do it yourself” band, who created the clarion template for autodidact punk music. They aligned musical form with record production and political content. In effect, they called the bluff of the Sex Pistols.

Amidst the arguments about who invented punk nests a sub-argument, which perhaps is or should be the real argument, about race and the invention of punk. Since the early 2000s, punk cognoscenti have known about Death from Detroit, the subject of a recent documentary film. That Death, a trio of brothers (in both senses), invented punk in sound and spirit by roughing up the already rough Detroit rock sound should be no surprise. As a well-known theory of racial formation in the United States has it, Black people are the country’s miner’s canary. So it went for rock music too. Here is Pure Hell, from Philadelphia, another pioneering all-Black punk act. They recorded this track in Feburary 1978. Their sound represents a fusion of rocker bombast, glam performance, and had-it-up-to-here punk sneering. The photo of them taken in London that graces the cover of the Social Text punk issue shows members made up in white-face. It’s complicated, as they say.

La Banda Trapera Del Río, from the industrial outskirts of Barcelona, took, like so many early punk bands, musical proficiency from a quickly receding era and married it with the desolation, self-destructiveness, and abjection that was the only appropriate response to the implosion of Fordism, particularly in its most authoritarian forms, like Franco’s dictatorship. To sing in Catalan in 1978 may have seemed a point of cultural pride and independence; to sing about the rottenness of it all in Catalan was a scathing indictment of both Spanish national unity and Catalan nationalism. Sorry about the tape drop-out.

Legend has it that Rotterdam’s Rondos was the first punk band to break up because they became popular. Rondos has been compared to London’s Crass but also accused even by Crass of being Maoist thugs rather than peace-loving anarchists like their London peers. In the view of Rondos members, the short career of their Red Rock Collective represented the meeting of theory and praxis, whereas Crass were lofty idealists who disdained the often unpleasant street-level work revolution would require. Ultimately, between their austere sound, commitment to independence, and supplementation of their music with magazines, comics, graffiti, films, and other forms of cultural production, Rondos set the tone for the extremely militant left-wing Dutch punk scene through the first half of the 1980s.

If, according to the accounts of Birmingham Cultural Studies, British youth subcultures emerged from the contradictions of race and class formation in the post-imperial era, Alien Kulture put deep, visceral insights on the moment to music. With one Welsh member and three Pakistani members, Alien Kulture confronted both the racism of Thatcher’s ascendancy and their families’ encouragement of conservative behavior. Affiliated with Rock Against Racism and always eager to erase any divide between band and audience, Alien Kulture represent some of the highest political possibilities of punk rock.

In addition to Rock Against Racism, which had chapters far beyond England, where it was born, organizations and concerts like Rock Against Sexism (Sweden), Rock Against Religion (Netherlands), Rock Against Prisons (Canada) and Rock Against Reagan (USA) soon formed. Sweden had one of the largest punk scenes in the world, and it also had a strong feminist component in the early days. The politics of the Swedish punk scene, in addition to some of the sounds, connected it strongly to the so-called “Progg” scene that preceded it, which was far more politically radical and engaged than US hippie-dom. Rock Against Sexism (actually “Rock Mot Sexism") was one example. Fega Påhopp, whose 45 came out from the main label of the Progg movement, was on the outer rings of Rock Mot Sexism, and sonically on the outer rings of Saturn. Bands like this explode notions of internal conformism within punk.

The Injections, from San Diego, had big dreams. But a bunch of Navy enlistees playing songs about Eldridge Cleaver, prison abolition, Communism, and drug abuse, whose 45 was funded by a massive supply of LSD courtesy of a guy named Starhead, playing lo-fi reggae-punk—they never really had a chance.

Latin America’s first punk bands emerged in Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina, soon to be followed by Ecuador, Colombia, Uruguay, and elsewhere. Pinochet’s Chile may have been one of the least likely spots for a punk band—or maybe that made it most likely that a band would appear there under the moniker Pinochet Boys (in the sarcastic tradition, though probably without knowledge, of Reagan Youth and others). Under the dictatorship, giving your band that name and calling a snotty punk tune “Musica del General” was no small risk. They recorded only two tracks in 1984, which were recently issued on vinyl after languishing unknown to most of the punk world for over 25 years.

National Wake was the only mixed-race punk band in South Africa in the late 1970s/early 1980s to release a record. Due to Apartheid, they encountered difficulties playing gigs, and their 1981 LP was censored. It was released in the United Kingdom with the intended tracklisting, but it did not garner much attention. Their mix of straight-forward punk, ska, reggae, and some indigenous rhythms should have attracted a wide audience. Today, thanks to a CD reissue in South Africa, coverage of the band in the documentary Punk in Africa, and a recent CD/2xLP that compiles unreleased tracks and some of the LP’s tracks, National Wake may finally get the acclaim the band deserves. But if the lesson of the song “International News” holds true—that the international media were complicit in Apartheid by reporting favorably on South Africa—we have reason to be pessimistic.

The Reversible Cords or Re-Cords from Austin was one of several female-fronted or all-women punk bands from Texas that bore a resemblance to the DIY movement that had occurred in the UK. They mixed blank irony with total improvisation, including using instruments that were seemingly the only things laying around on the day of recording. (See also Meatjoy, the Foams, etc.) More complicated than simple nihilism, hilarious songs like “Legalize Crime” reward multiple listens. “Throw all the Democrats in the lake. Let’s all eat Republican steak.”

Prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, most Eastern Bloc countries had punk scenes. Many produced records, with Yugoslavia and Poland setting the standard. In Poland, the state released punk records on its own official record label. It was better to exercise some control over youthful dissidence went the thinking. East Germany apotheosized this approach when its secret police provided impossible-to-obtain Western punk records to informants; true punks knew to be suspicious of their fellows who possessed such verboten materials. Poland’s KSU, from a sparsely populated rural area, became punks in total isolation. It’s said they thought they were the only punks in the country. Radio broadcasts from overseas as well as a Greek expatriate community in their area provided information on the effervescent new music. (The effects of Cold War broadcasting across the Iron Curtain have yet to be studied in depth; it is clear they rendered the Curtain porous.) Despite the rough recording, KSU’s aggression and energy are clear here, and other Polish bands took a couple years to match this intensity. It must be noted that this mixtape has included mostly well-recorded bands, but that is not be an accurate representation of punk history generally. Moreover, close attention to fidelity, production techniques and values, and other technical aspects of punk remains absent from most academic analysis.

Karaganda, Kazakhstan, 1986: 12 Podvigov Nurkena, a gang of angry 16-year-olds, record snotty punk rock. Twenty-seven years later, neither unidirectional diffusionist accounts nor poststructuralist antifoundationalism can quite explain it.

So stick sophistication up your ass. Composed of relatively well-off kids in Manila, Third World Chaos, released their LP in 1984, which had been preceded by a 45 (as simply Chaos). The Philippines would go on to have a large punk scene in the 1980s, second in size among Asian countries’ scenes only to Japan. This LP reproduced all the clichés, or should I say characteristics, of British punk rock, to brilliant effect. Originals are impossible to locate nowadays, but it recently received the unofficial reissue treatment. Copies of this high-quality bootleg are easy to find. Four tracks from the LP also appeared on a bootleg single from France over a decade ago.

Canada’s Subhumans grabbed international headlines when a former member went to prison on charges of conspiracy to rob an armored car and possession of a stolen weapon. Bassist Gerry Useless was one of the so-called Vancouver Five, a group of militants (with punk rockers among them) linked to a series of bombings and industrial vandalism, including of a hydroelectric substation and the offices of the manufacturer of cruise-missile guidance systems. The utterly classic “Death to the Sickoids” from the Subhumans’ first single seems to portend these militant actions—except that the song fantasizes about vengeance whereas the ‘Five never intended to harm anyone.

With links to anarcho-punk and the more esoteric UK DIY practitioners around Street Level studio and Fuck Off Records, originally from Stevenage, north of London, the Astronauts at once never fit within punk’s contours and also realized punk’s promise more than any other band. Their sound at times recalls the West London proto-punk/weirdo scene associated with the Deviants, Hawkwind, and Pink Fairies (Hawkwind’s Nik Turner plays sax on their first LP), but it was also a sound that was constantly evolving and remains difficult to pin down. A true street poet and troubadour, band leader Mark Astronaut is responsible for some of the most unexpectedly brilliant lyrics of the era. He also has supposedly never paid to ride public transport in his forty-plus years in London. Their first release, under the name Restricted Hours, was a split single on Stevenage’s own Rock Against Racism imprint. It has recently been compiled on LP along with their first two singles as the Astronauts, and the same label, Hackney’s La Vida Es Un Mus, has reissued their hard-to-find first LP, the source of this song.

* The title refers to the splendidly spelled first EP by Spain's HHH, or Harina de Huesos Humanos. The attached photo is of an article about Hackney's God Told Me To Do It, who famously squatted the Libyan embassy in the 1980s after the UK severed relations with the country.

Shit-Fi Mixtape #9: Sludge Music

Sludge Music

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One of the reasons punk (and hardcore) defies definition, and is thus subject to all manner of maltreatment in the hands of commentators and pseudo-historians, is that it always contains its own ideological and formal negation. For every Crass, there is a GG Allin (maybe not quite in actual numbers, but you catch my drift). And for every Gang Green, there is a Kilslug. Indeed many bands that pushed the sonic envelope in one direction pushed it as far in the other: Siege is the best example. Conserving its energy, seeming to follow the laws of physics, every punk action results in a reaction. This set of forces has almost always kept punk vital and dynamic—but it makes it slippery, elusive, even as one of its seemingly perpetual characteristics is its thudding obviousness. In recent years, sludgy, downer hardcore, influenced by Flipper, No Trend, and Kilslug, among others, has emerged as one of the more unexpected trends. Bands like Pissed Jeans, whom I quite like, capture this influence and push it in new directions. Just as the initial bands of this style were clearly reacting with alacrity to the faster and shorter sounds and exhortations of early hardcore, the resurgence of the early hc sound in the 2000s led to a similar retort. I do not find many of the original bands in this mode a particularly easy listen. That’s the point. They challenged the conventions of the convention-challengers; they were more antisocial than the antisocial. Notably, whereas some strains of punk and hardcore grew to be male-dominated, macho, and misogynist, some feminist women turned hardcore on its head and played uglier, more sarcastic, more angry, and more extreme music in response. Overall, the vibe here is slow, plodding, negative, downer, misanthropic music. It dovetails with one of the strains of hardcore that was prevalent in the US, in contrast to what prevailed in the UK: the “I Hate Myself” school, as opposed to the “I Hate Them” school (them = the system). But the canniest bands, particularly the feminist ones, noticed that the system was inside the myself of legions of hardcore boys. This mixtape is far from exhaustive, and I am tentatively feeling for the edges of this hard-to-identify sound and vibe. Most of the bands are from the US; examples of variations on the sound—though with quite different inspirations I think—from the UK and Australia are included as well.

To start off, Bobby Soxx’s “Scavenger of Death” seems to capture the loner, outlaw, weirdo, misfit stance at the core of Texas punk. Yet no one else sounds quite like this. The live album of his band Teenage Queers is one of my absolute favorite records—punker than punk it is. This version is from his 45. Can you feel the room getting smaller? First incarnated as Sheer Smegma, who in 1980 released a rare 45 with confounding pressing variations, a 12" on Alternative Tentacles, containing that 45 plus one extra track, appeared some years later with the name Teddy & the Frat Girls. This recording predates the macho hardcore movement; it’s clear its anger is directed at sexist men in society at large. Another favorite of mine, all the tracks, which vary in sound, ooze with anger and sarcasm. Still pre-hardcore, Hawaii’s Fuckin’ Flyin’ A-Heads defy categorization. They were inspired by punk, but this slab, recorded live, is a psychedelic experience for sure. In the late 90s, thanks to intrepid Bavarian punk detective Behjan Mirhadi, collectors were hipped to this bizarre record. I spent my lunch money on it. Over the years, it’s continued to grow on me. Unfortunately, skipping meals to buy records as a teenager stunted my growth. Now we’re getting to the heart of the matter: the Bay Area. Of course, the lineage of SST, Negative Trend, and then Flipper is one of permanent marginalization: DIY-weirdness-to-punk-to-hardcore-to-antihardcore, aided by copious substance abuse. Supposedly, Church Police came up with their sound before ever seeing Flipper perform. Nonetheless, they are kindred spirits, though I’d say Church Police is a more unsettling listen. Two posthumous 7"s have increased their popularity, from zero to fewer than a dozen fans, I reckon. Their sole release back in the day was a track on the first MRR compilation, with the title “The Oven Is My Friend,” a phrase that pops into my head at the oddest moments. Subterranean Records, still alive today, was the center of Bay Area nonconformism when it came to punk’s trends. Along with Flipper, Subterranean put out a little-known single by a group of pissed-off lesbian separatists called Wilma. Each of the songs on the record sounds different. This one probably took some influence from Crass, but it has its own sound and motivation. Across the country, many considered No Trend to be Flipper’s east-coast counterpart. For my money, their first 45 is better than any of Flipper’s material. “Mass Sterilization Caused By Venereal Disease” ought to be in the Shit-Fi hall of fame. Too bad about the Steven Blush connection. Back to the left coast, Feederz don’t fit in exactly, but they’re one of my favorite bands and the closing song on their first album, "Fuck You," may be their most angry, acerbic, and blunt—and certainly their sludgiest. A total unknown, NJF (Negro Jazz Funeral) from Toronto released an average hardcore single in 1984. One of the four songs is a dirge, so I’ve included it here. (The other three, which are fast hardcore songs, have a woman singing.) Bizarrely, this record was bootlegged a few years ago. I have previously mentioned my love for the Four Plugs single, a classic of UK DIY. The mixture of tension and lack of affect, combined with its minimalism, makes it stand alone. Perhaps it doesn’t fit in the company of the other records included here, but one can’t listen to it too often. The members of Manchester’s God’s Gift, whose CD is one of the best Messthetics releases, all worked in an insane asylum. Whereas some weirdo US punk bands may have feigned mental illness, God’s Gift knew of what they spoke: depression, hopelessness, listlessness. With music like this, the lines between fan, musician, and patient, between normalcy and social unacceptability, fade—quite an achievement. Although I tend to prefer music not sung in English, for whatever reason, few bands fit this bill from countries other than the US, Canada, UK, and Australia. I’d be eager to hear your recommendations. (Japan's ADK label is a whole 'nother story.) To close, here are a few rarities from downunder. Slugfuckers released two extremely rare singles in 1979. Bridging the nascence of punk, DIY, and industrial, and perhaps with some free jazz thrown in, they are truly unique records (and I need them still!). Here’s the aptly titled “Cacophony.” Until this year, I had never heard of Robert Trimbole’s Hat. Then a copy turned up on eBay and mp3s began to circulate soon after. It has a mid-80s death rock feel. No one seems to know anything about it, but you can be certain that my pals over at Wallaby Beat will provide the details if any are to be had (check there for Real Traitors and the Terse Sampler, which may fit in here). Finally, the Yettis. What can I say? This thing is primo shit-fi fuck-core. It leans more in the Chemotherapy/Psycho Sin direction than the Flipper direction, but it’s about as abrasive and ugly as they come. Enjoy and die.

Shit-Fi Mixtape #8: Metal

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As an ethos, punks hate metal. As a reality, punks love metal. The problem with reality, as far as I see it, is that many punks love the wrong metal. For a long time, after the pre-teen experience many of my generation shared, of headbanging to Metallica, as a punk, I was resolutely uninterested in metal. Any experimental forays in the genre resulted in disappointment. Now older and wiser, I still fail to understand the fascination many punks have with the majority of metal out there. I mean, let’s face it (back to the ethos part), it’s moronic, commercial, overproduced, and moronic. Thankfully for thirty-something punks not willing to spend hours trading tapes with basement-dwelling longhairs in acid-washed jeans named Dieter, Al Gore invented the Internet. My previous experience of hearing supposedly awesome metal that actually sucked has been replaced by the experience of hearing supposedly terrible metal that actually sucks—in just the way I can appreciate: lo-fi, primitive, unpolished, simple, aggressive, uncommercial, and moronic. Thank Satan for South America.

Anyway, 1985–1986 was, as far as I can tell, to death metal what 1980–1981 was to hardcore (though this analogy has some problems we’ll leave aside for another discussion). It was the period of experimentation and of simultaneous discovery in separate geographical domains of the same form, which would coalesce into death metal. But before it became death metal as such—while taking influence from the tangle of hardcore, speed metal, crossover, thrash, etc.—it was much more exciting, in my opinion. Though not everything featured on this mixtape is from those years, some of the best primitive, ultra-fast, and unimaginably aggressive metal is. Consider this mixtape both an introduction to the invention of death metal and a sampler of some of the most primitive and ugly metal of the 1980s, two fields that would overlap in a Venn diagram.

To begin, White Hell, from Japan, with a member or two from New Zealand, is a perfect example of the Shit-Fi aesthetic: completely accidental greatness. These Venom-worshipping lads made it so close but remained so far. What more do you need to know beyond the ultra-(not)-menacing lyric “I wear the cross dirty, filthy, and upside down”? Recorded in one take, methinks. The band received a mention in a Japan scene report by Roger Armstrong in MRR #26. Next up is Exorcist from Poland, a country with a surprisingly strong metal scene in the mid-80s. This band is the best one, as far as I can tell. More on the thrash tip but without the “good” production endemic to that style, this ripper is from their 87 demo. Hadez from Peru is a recent discovery for me, but their 86 demo, “Guerreros de la Muerte,” might be one of the finest achievements of primitive South American metal. It certainly gives some Brazilian contemporaries a run for their money in the speed and brutality departments. Though not quite at the level of Parabellum, Hadez nonetheless is transcendent and essential for fans of extreme music of any genre. One of the first US metal bands to release a record that would today be recognized as primitive and proto–death metal was Black Task. Their 4-song 12" has been a collector classic for a decade at least, with more and more scums catching on. Luckily, an official reissue is on its way soon. Insanity, Archenemy, and FCDN Tormentor constitute the classic California trifecta of underground inventors of death metal, as far as I’m concerned. That’s the order of quality, too. FCDN Tormentor was the least innovative, but they were ultra-fast and very crude. Warhammer, with Shane Embury of Napalm Death, was the first death metal band in the UK, and a lo-fi one at that. At this point, the underground metal tape-trading circuit and the hardcore punk tape-trading circuit had significant overlap, as zines from the UK of the period demonstrate. From New Jersey, Savage Death was another of the inventors of death metal, with their 1985 demo, where this ripper originates. Lace up high-tops, condition long hair, watch porno, drink 12-pack of Busch, listen to Savage Death, fight guidos in the 7-11 parking lot—all in a day’s work for NJ metallists circa 1985. Virtually no information is available about Sons of War from Brazil, but “Fuck Off or Die” from 1986, ostensibly recorded live, is a prime cut of early Brazilian death-thrash, with ultra-fast drumming, thin guitars, and all-around primitive, violent mayhem. The two volumes of the “Warfare Noise” compilation would lead many in Brazil to call this type of brutality “war metal.” Now that your ears are beginning to suffer repetitive stress injuries, it’s time to get real. Dead, from Florida, who released the “Musical Abortions” demo in 1986 set a new standard in ultra-rough, totally unhindered by talent, shit-fi metal. Few who are not readers of Shit-Fi would likely appreciate this, well, musical abortion. Check the review on Metal Archives: “Before going ahead with the review I'd like to point out that I myself am a fan of very raw, primitive music on the occasion. I am fully aware of the purposes and goals of such a style of production and composition, and I can confidently say that when done right, that shit kicks ass. . . . However, that being said, it is the single worst sounding pieces of recorded music that I have ever heard.” Indeed. Trust me: metal like this—which verges on industrial and/or noise—should be left to punks to appreciate, because ‘bangers just don’t seem to get it. (See, also, Hellhouse.) I had to include a song from Possessed’s “Death Metal” demo because some claim it’s the original source of the style. I disagree, but this ripper is noteworthy nonetheless, even if it’s not as extreme and raging as some of the other songs included herein. Next up is Insanity—as good as it gets. Nuff said (also, see Dull Knife #6 below). Many aficionados believe Master’s unreleased LP, and particularly this version of “Funeral Bitch” was the high point of the invention of death metal. Few songs are quite as aggressive and ripping as this one, so it seems worth highlighting, even if, from my point of view, the uninteresting aspects of post-86 death metal are beginning to creep into the picture here. To conclude, I once called Necrófago the second most primitive Brazilian metal band. Surely you have been wondering for years what the most primitive one is. Bestial War, naturally. Forget the invention of death metal. These cavemen pretty much invented Norwegian black metal too. It’s another example of a band that deserves acclaim from the Shit-Fi perspective but most metallists scoff at—just check their review on Metal Archives.

Shit-Fi Mixtape #7: Psych

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Here is another Shit-Fi Mixtape, following up on #4, that plumbs the depths of the late 60s and 70s underground, inspired by Patrick Lundborg's book The Acid Archives.

Rayne deserves to be one of those legendary restlessly out-of-place bands collectors and aficionados alike treat with deep reverence. Though their lone LP’s release coincided with the punk era, it was not of the punk era. Yet it doesn’t belong to the classic 70s sound, even if we stretch that sound to include outsider, underground weirdness. In fact, I’d argue it would’ve appealed to New York’s or Ohio’s 70s punks if they could’ve taken off their ideological shades for a moment. From Louisiana, Rayne caught the attention of Jello Biafra a long time ago and received a mention in Incredibly Strange Music Vol. II. Anyway, this band deserves the long-form treatment, so I’ll cut my effusiveness short here. Nightshadow, aka Little Phil and the Nightshadows, has been well-known on the psych collector circuit for a long time, but I didn’t hear this guitar-overdriven gem until last year. Thank you, The Internet. It’s pretty far out for 1968 in my opinion, so check out all nine minutes of this lo-fi rocker. Another awesome recent discovery of mine is Neutral Spirits, a band that managed to play to two different styles and do both well. Although I’m including a caveman-beats-guitar-with-rock-and-invents-riff instrumental called “Scenic Void” here, the band has a few more melodic tunes with urgent, earnest peacenik lyrics. Keeping with the antiwar theme, “You May Be Religious” by One St. Stephen gives the feel of being sung by an acid-casualty ‘Nam veteran. Tactless, crude, and uncouth, with lyrics meant to point out religious hypocrisy, though no early punk would’ve been caught dead listening to a band like this, you can see the outlines of some commonalities. “The Bible” by D.R. Hooker is about as sublime as it gets. Rather than saying much about it, I’ll let you decide if Hooker convinces you to believe as you listen. (If not, just consider the song to be about The Acid Archives book.) Cellar-dweller bullet-belt and flairs–wearing deadbeats from New Jersey, Sainte Anthony’s Fyre, who channel Grand Funk Railroad and other hedonistic acts of the 70s, could represent everything analyses of the white working class of that era would need to understand before explaining how and why punk could have arisen. Who’s up to the task? Kath’s 1974 LP is all over the map sonically, ranging from relatively sunny almost West Coast sounds to songs with a dislocated and disaffected protopunk/avant-garde sound, but always from a lo-fi, basement stance. The sum may actually be less impressive than some of the constituent parts in isolation. Check out “Say What You Feel,” which is heavy on the fuzz. The enigmatic Mystery Meat destabilize the boundaries we have constructed between garage and psych of the 60s. A relentlessly primitive recording that sounds like it was made in an airplane hangar, this LP definitely deserves a place in the lo-fi cesspool of fame. Finally, Stone Harbour represents a brilliant use of primitive, basement recording techniques to create part of their psychedelic soundscape, rather than the typical sensibility, wherein such techniques would be thought to work against sophisticated song-writing and -texturing. Here’s the rawest song on the record, “Workin’ for the Queen,” which may not really be representative of the LP’s achievement.

Shit-Fi Radio Volume 2: Third-wave Japanese Noise-core

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1. Extreme Noise Terror and K.L.F. “3 A.M. Eternal” (from 7"; Relapse)
2. Exit-Hippies “3 A M Club Night” (from split 7" with Tantrum; Distort)
3. Death Dust Extractor titles not listed (from 12"; New Smell)
4. Stagnation titles not listed (from “Destruction” 7"; Whisper in Darkness)
5. Deconstruction “Alternate Society” (from demo cass.; self)
6. Total Noise Accord “Continuation ~ Never Rot ~ Where Are We Going?” (from 7"; Crust War)
7. Exit-Hippies “Alcohol Life ~ Dodder” (from “Record and Fantasy” 7"; Bong)
8. Toxic Sex titles not listed (from demo cass.; self)
9. Toxik Trash “Many Kat ~ Cruelly” (from split 7" with Heavy Water; Teenage Scrap Sounds)
10. Exit-Hoppers “100% Pure” (from split 8" with Joy; We Suck)
11. Caravana Anarquista “Poverty, Exploitation, and Apathy” (from split 7" with ADA; self)
12. Aostrapos “Rusty Feeler” (from split 12" with Exit-Hippies; Depression)
13. Filth Militia titles not listed (from demo CD-R; self)
15. Struggle for Pride “Summer Never Ends” (from split 7" with Abraham Cross; Paank Levyt).



Third-wave Japanese crust/noise-core began to evolve around 2002. If Confuse exemplified the first wave and Gloom the second, Exit-Hippies define the third. But I’m using the rubric “third-wave” because not all these bands sound like Exit-Hippies. In general, the third wave is characterized by incorporation of somewhat diverse influences with the usual-suspect crust influences. Thus, Abraham Cross combine Doom with Krautrock; Exit-Hippies, Sore Throat with 80s acid house; Death Dust Extractor, Shitlickers with Black Sabbath. The cumulative effect is one of ear-shattering noise, unpredictable song structures, and psychedelic sensations. To a degree, I feel these effects also resulted from the direction in which Confuse was headed by their “Stupid Life” 12". Anyway, there are no rigid boundaries between the waves of Japanese noise-core, which overlap temporally, and even the Tokyo-centric nature of the third wave’s initial explosion is now diminished. My own hypothesis on the emergence of the form is that Japanese crusties had basically exhausted to possibilities inherent in the second-wave form by perfecting it. Gloom, Deceiving Society, and even Atrocious Madness (from the US) put out 12" records that pushed the limits set up by Disorder, Chaos UK, Confuse, and Gai. These crowning achievements are among the finest hardcore records of the late 90s/early 00s, and, based as that form of noise-core was on a balance of imitation and newness, it was impossible to continue in the direction these bands were headed while maintaining that balance. So other bands took it upon themselves to change course. I hope this radio show documents that course with some generosity. It’s been exciting to watch (and hear) it develop over the past few years. Punks’ seeming polarization over the third wave of Japanese noise-core may indicate that it is quintessentially punk. It’s worth noting that many of these records are split releases, indicating the cooperative nature, the punk ideals embodied by the third wave. Also, like the original hardcore bands, before the codification(s) of the style occurred, these bands take influences from outside hardcore punk. From the shit-fi perspective, the sheer exuberance on display with a band like Exit-Hippies, who don’t seem to have bothered to learn how to play anything other than rudimentary hardcore and rudimentary techno, is inseparable from their originality in combining the forms. Not that I think noise-core should or could become popular, but I think the inventiveness of these bands could have broad-based appeal. Maybe that’s wishful thinking. Luckily, nearly all these records are so hard to find, it’s unlikely we’ll see Death Dust Extractor in the pages of Spin any time soon.

Shit-Fi Radio Volume 1: Protopunk

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1. Rotomagus “Fightin’ Cock” (France, 71[?])
2. Antorcha “Nada” (Mexico, 67)
3. Los Amigos De María “Vuelve a Comenzar” (Chile, 73 [released, recorded earlier])
4. Clem East “Jupiter” (Australia, 79)
5. Vibracion “Vuelve a Mí” (Spain, 72)
6. Velvet Underground “White Light, White Heat” (US, 69 [from “Legendary Guitar Amp Tapes”])
7. Third World War “Ascencion Day” (UK, 71)
8. 3/3 “???” (Japan, 75)
9. Coloured Balls “Won’t You Make Up Your Mind” (Australia, 73)
10. The Jam “Friends” (Germany, 70)
11. Docdail “Aere Perennius” (France, 69)


Special thanks to Joao, Paco, Luke, and Troy for mind expansion and info.


Dull Knife #6

I was invited to contribute to a curated series of compilation CDRs, called "Dull Knife," distributed for free in Texas. I'm sharing the mix, which is a microcosmic introduction to the world of shit-fi. Thanks to Brent for the invitation!


From Grosse Pointe, Michigan, in 1967 Index released what has become one of the most sought-after psychedelic-era records. “Feedback” is the noisiest of their tracks but their entire first LP demonstrates how sheer ingenuity and geographic isolation allowed them to create quite a riposte to the early Velvet Underground. Except I doubt they had ever heard of the Velvets or even cared much what was going on in the Village in 1967. Confuse, from Fukuoka in the far south of Japan, is one of the most important early 80s “noise-core” bands, but “General Speech,” from their 1989 12", showcases what can only be considered a psychedelic influence (something I believe they hinted at 6 years earlier on their finest release, the “Spending Loud Night” 7"). Eu’s Arse, from Udine, Italy, played rabid Discharge-influenced anarchist hardcore punk; nowhere was their sound more rabid than during this December 1984 rehearsal session, soon before the band broke up. This song puts most hardcore before or since to shame. Wretched, another anarchist hardcore band from Italy (Milan), captures the essence of the Italian hardcore sound. These two tracks, probably dating from early 1984, are played live about twice as fast as on the records, at speeds pretty much unthinkable for that time and place. Insanity, for my money, is the best proto-death metal band and can be credited with having invented the style with flare. Their 1985 rehearsal tape is the pinnacle of that brief moment when hardcore punk and underground metal coalesced to produce a totally new and extreme sound. I’ll just say it bluntly so there is no confusion: Parabellum is the most extreme band ever. From Medellín, Colombia, their sound matches the violence and desperation that characterized everyday life in that city in the 1980s. I would say they invented a genre but no other band has ever sounded anything like them since. This very rare track, recorded live in 1988, appeared on a cassette reissue of their classic “Sacrilegio” 12", which is actually more nutso than this track. The other most extreme band ever is surely Australia’s SPK. Their first 7" included “No More,” which can be considered their “punk” song. They invented industrial music as far as I am concerned, but never has industrial sounded so punk (or punk so industrial) as on this sublime track. This thinking man’s nihilism gives me goosebumps. Beyond the Implode was one of the thousands of UK DIY bands that pushed the boundaries of what punk could encompass in the late 1970s. This track shows them at their most inventive. It captures the playfulness often associated with UK DIY, but it also portends the direction so many bands would take punk’s individualism, away from traditional instrumentation and rocknroll song structures. The Mekons, who, unlike 99% of shit-fi bands, would go on to some international fame and repute, did manage to start out by pissing off the music business through sheer ineptitude (with a punk rock song taking the piss out of punk rock). Their crude and ultra-simple “Never Been in a Riot” is another fine example of the breadth of the UK DIY moment. If you’re weeping at the sound of that guitar, you may be what I refer to as “a grown record collector.” Time to move out of mom’s basement. Australia’s Sick Things seem to channel SPK, as well as nearly every other extreme band that preceded them, with this so-punk-it’s-hardcore antisocial attack recorded on a 2-track in 1982. “Rough” doesn’t begin to describe their “sound.” From Fort Worth, Texas, the Dot Vaeth Group, named after the members’ junior high teacher art teacher, was one of the state’s earliest punk bands. Their crude, lo-fi single, featuring “Armed Robbery” on the A side, came out in 1978. Howls of execration surely ensued. Abraham Cross began in the mid-90s as a relatively typical, though highly accurate, Tokyo crust imitator of England’s Sore Throat, Extreme Noise Terror, and Doom; today, they combine noisy crust with a krautrock influence to create a hybrid sound quite unlike any other band I have heard. “Message from Forever pt. 1” is their most meandering excursion. Bedemon was a heavy, Sabbathy lo-fi basement rock band that shared members with Pentagram. Bedemon’s melancholy, primitive guitar-based metal captures the feel of life for many white working-class men in the early 70s, as the economy began to fall into the shitter and the optimism of the 60s evaporated—in my mind, Bedemon should be the background music to the audiobook of Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son. Bedemon’s story is marked by sadness and unrealized promise, but listening to “Touch the Sky,” one gets the feeling it couldn’t have been any other way. I know absolutely nothing about Ellis Dee & the Dans. This record is rumored to date from the late 1960s but it could just as easily be from the 1980s. Other songs on it are inna wasted 60s garage style but “Wind Awrays” (what?) is shimmering, noisy acid-cas proto-shoegaze. Finally, Les Rallizes Denudés is the finest band that never released a record. They began at Doshishi University in Kyoto, Japan, in late1967 and after a horrendous and shameful experience in a recording studio, band leader Takeshi Mizutani decided to limit the band to live shows only. They spent the next three decades or so playing relentless, blinding, feedback-laden, caveman-simple, bumptious psych. In 1988, 17 years after the bassist helped highjack a Japan Airlines jet under the banner of the Japanese Red Army Faction, Les Rallizes Denudés recorded this version of their most thudding, doomy tune, “The Last One.” It sounds like an A&R guy’s night-sweat nightmare.

Shit-Fi Mixtape #6

by Teodoro Hernández

Shit-Fi proudly presents a virtual mixtape of raw 80s hardcore punk from the Basque region. Teodoro Hernández compiled it as an actual cassette mixtape and gave it as a gift to some friends on his birthday. Teo has played in some of the best raw, anarchist hardcore bands of recent years, including OTAN, Infierno de Cobardes, Firmeza-10, and others.

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Most of the bands on this tape are virtually lost to hardcore history outside Spain, but, as you'll hear, some deserve to be included among the highlights of European hardcore of the 80s. Autodefensa, Mierda Radioaktiva, Tortura Sistematika, and Delirium Tremens certainly produced world-class shit-fi hardcore, but even the less raw and lo-fi tracks herein are great. Just a couple months ago, La Vida Es Un Mus Discos from London released a Delirium Tremens 7" with recordings from 1984, one of which appears on this mixtape. Hopefully, additional vinyl releases that unearth the fertile history of Basque 80s hardcore will follow. I have separated the sides of the cassette into two mp3s, with the tracklisting above as Teo designed it.


Shit-Fi Mixtape #5

by Dave Hyde

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Since the old-timer wierdos don’t have the market cornered on shit music, I figured it was worth a shot to assemble a mix tape of cruddy punk made by folks who weren’t quite a twinkle in their parents’ eyes when Dee Dee met Joey. As all things shitty should be, this tape was hastily assembled and sounds a bit like a third-generation dub. My mistake, but it sounds good if you crank it. 

With its fuzzy mess of a guitar track and “found” percussion, The Reatards “You Got So Much Soul” seems a fitting opener. Their debut EP, from which this track is taken, was recorded when the group was just one fellow with a healthy Oblivians obsession; these early recordings are an amateur wreck, which puts them leagues above their peers in my eyes. Until discovering Sad Sack’s “Heinous Bitch” single, my immediate mental association with the upstate college town New Paltz, NY, was a sidewalk lined with bead-selling hippies. Stereotype or not, perhaps this single, dirgey and mean, was somewhat of a reaction to the town’s atmosphere. The Ginn-esque guitar leads, Soxx-ish vocals, tin-can drum machine, and layers of sludge are a true joy to listen to. Few bands strike me as being from the wrong era as much as the Icky Boyfriends. Fifteen years in either direction may have seen a warmer reception for their sardonic sound, as I’m not so sure it gelled with the SF scene of the time. “What We Had” was released in 1992 on their “Miss Nevada” single and later reappeared on their first album, “I’m Not Fascinating.” In addition to these and a handful of other releases, the Boyfriends also starred in the world’s greatest rocknroll move, I’m Not Fascinating by Danny Plotnick. Monster Truck Five were perhaps the noisiest of bands to emerge from the Columbus, Ohio, scene of the early 90s. Their needles-in-the-red, wall-of-sound take on Mike Rep & the Quotas’ “Rocket Music On” is among my all-time favorite covers. Recorded in a dorm room in Austin, TX, and released in a micropressing of 45 copies, “Crosswalk” by the Nubees is a benchmark of lofi punk in the 90s. This is the perfection of the “bang on what you can find while I crank up the practice amp” approach! Though the Action Swingers would have a long career with a rotating cast of players, they never sounded as good as on their debut single from 1989, “Kicked in the Head.” The song, with its buzz riffing and primary school drumming, provides a hypnotic skeleton for guitarist Ned Hayden’s spastic, off the wall soloing. This track is an undeniable classic. “Model Citizen (Nitroglycerine)” is Monoshock’s most off-the-hook moment and, consequently, my favorite. From Oakland, CA, the band released a couple of singles, a double album, and members were involved in other bands such as noise-makers Liquorball, the brutal, free-form Sternklang, and current rockers The Bad Trips. The only track on this mix recorded in the last eight years, Home Blitz’s “Apocalyptic Grades 2005 A. D.” is just too good to ignore. Informed by a voluminous musical lexicon, this first Home Blitz single was a one-man effort that seemed to come out of nowhere and was clever and catchy enough to bring a tear to the eyes of even the most jaded among us. It seems that Mindburger was the brainchild of a 60s rocknroll enthusiast (and, I believe, record dealer) from the Chicago metro area. Twenty-five years too late, “Reflections of Infinity,” the A-side to his 1991 single, is a spectacular garage-psych track. The sleeve mentions an upcoming album but so far I haven’t been able to find any evidence that it exists. New Orleans’ Persuaders’ 1997 debut EP is a fine slab of teenage trash. The distorted vocals on “Southern Wine” and dirty recording carry this one. Front-man King Louie has played in countless other bands, but his earlier singles as a one-man band may be particularly appealing to fans of primitive shit rock. I particularly like how the Evolutions transformed “Band Aid” from the Trend’s punk-pop original into this blown-out, disgusting mess. Members had previously played in Last Sons of Krypton but the Evolutions’ all-treble noise upped the ante. This track is from their 2000 single on Yakisakana Records. Unlike the previous track, I don’t get the impression that The Fingers were trying to destroy “First Time” (The Boys). Instead, it seems as though they were striving for power pop but weren’t quite adept enough to get there. Thankfully, I prefer shit-sounding trash rock any day! From Ontario, The Earthlings released one mighty fine single in 1995 (recorded straight to VCR!!!). They’d play gigs decked out in full space suits but it’s the fuzzy guitar and immature, otherworldly (perhaps a little out of breath) vocals that really win me over. Along with the Fingers and Mummies, Supercharger were instrumental in forging a no-talent, lo-fi aesthetic that’d be adopted worldwide during the mid-90s garage rock explosion. From 1992, “Icepick” is about as good as they—or anyone who followed—got. Following Supercharger’s breakup, guitarist Darin and drummer Karen formed The Brentwoods, a budget-rock version of a 60s girl group. “Little Barfy Bobby” is off of their “Fun in South City” album. As much UK mod as 77 punk, “Speed” by, um, Speed is one of the finest tunes I’ve had the pleasure to hear. A raw little rocker with androgynous vocals, these German lads could sure write a song. Up in Maine, Jumpin’ Beans and Willie has cranked out a slew of challenging, abrasive singles. “Bus Driver” has the boys pounding and yelping over a sludge of distortion. A one-off band featuring veterans of outsider rock (TJSA, MR&Q, Gibson Bros, Vertical Slit, etc.), Ego Summit released one fantastic album on Mike Rep’s Old Age label that runs the stylistic gamut without straying from its rough, honest aesthetic. “Black Hole” is the most aggressive track on the album, which I thought would fit better in this mix, though “Half Off” or “We Got It All” may be even better.