Heart Attack & Vine

15 May

This blog thing is a real trip sometimes.

The letter reproduced here was once sent out into the world by me as part of my search into the hydra-headed serpent known as Hollywood punk rock, apparently back in Jan. 1987. Now I don’t actually remember sending it, or if I ever received a response at the time. But inexplicably it’s returned, boomerang-like. And I’m staring at the damn thing again. WTF?

Well, ya see: the recipient Jon, aka JB – he discovered this blog early on. There’s a comment from him on my very first post. He recently let me know I’d queried him by mail about a handfull of p-rock records, 21+ years ago as a dorky 16 yr. old. And a couple weeks back JB “kindly” forwarded this scan to chez PS Recon. Fucking hell, man! What comes around sure as shit goes around. Especially within the claustrophobic, skinnyhead world of California punk rock record collecting.

Which is all to let you know I’m back again to sling around more ill-thought out opinions about all your Hollywood punk heroes. Read the first or second posts in this series if you must, and then: 1-2-3-4 let’s g-g-g-go . . .

1. Best RIK L RIK-led effort: Garbage Hearts – The Lost EP (2007) Yes heavy drug use clipped RIK’s artistic fingernails to the bloody quick, but dammit if he didn’t record a dimebag full of minor-key, SLEEPERS-inspired glamour punk gems, some of which dated from up near his death in 2000. Shit I actually had a difficult time picking a favorite RIK moment. This man’s F-WORD album is generally considered the first Hollywood punk LP to see the light of day. His “Outback” cut – as heard on my first punker purchase ever (Rodney On The Roq, Vol. I) – was also the very first song I ever taught myself on bass gtr. And his cuts on the Beach Blvd comp. impressed the hell outta me – at least until I heard the earlier, NEGATIVE TREND EP versions.

But ultimately, this long-lost EP of early 90’s NEW CHRISTS-like material may be his very best. Certainly, it’s some of his most coherent, and I love the way his baritone soars over the din. Check it out if you haven’t – and long may the kids remember RIK’s barefoot croon.

2. Best BLACK RANDY & THE METROSQUAD effort: Pass the Dust, I Think I’m Bowie LP (Dangerhouse Records, ’79) – Talk about sidespilting – these cads still slay me 6 ways to Sunday. Any JAMES CHANCE/WHITE comparisons will definitely hold water. But remember: unlike James, Randy wasn’t actually musical, just an irresponsible prankster dead-set on exposing some of the sillier/staider aspects of “the scene” at the time. There’s room in my heart for such types, fr sure – even when they’re trying to pants me.

Hey, where’s that tweaked live snippet of “Ziggy Stardust” that graced the original Dangerhouse LP? It didn’t seem to make the cut on the Sympathy For The Record Industry reissue CD. Copyright complications perhaps? C’MON Long Gone John, this was fucking BLACK RANDY – he coulda punked out the Thin White Duke in no time flat.

3. Best FEAR effort: Saturday Night Live ’81 – As huge as they were around LA in the early 80’s with young, suburban cropped-hair dudes, FEAR (not unlike, say, the ANTI-NOWHERE LEAGUE) always hit me as ersatz HC punk, a patent-leather version of the real deal. Which isn’t to say they weren’t good – they were, and I do like alot of tunes on the first Slash LP, despite the thin/compressed production. But it’s why I’ve chosen this SNL clip: FEAR always seemed to have their sights set mainly on that other, film-industry Hollywood, and Lee hits ya best when he’s on camera. Look hard, and you’ll spot Ian Mackaye in the audience! (BTW: the first single is probably their best studio moment, but I never did turn up that rarity . . .)

4. Best ANGRY SAMOANS effort: Queer Pills 7″ 45 (Homophobic Records, ’81) Another band of far-from-authentically hardcore types who the HB strut contingent went absolutely gaga over. Had these kinda older, wordy fanzine scribes been anywhere else in the US, no doubt they’d have put out records that sounded like THE GIZMOS or THE SCREAMIN’ MEE-MEES or something. But they came to fruition in SoCal in the early 80’s where BLACK FLAG and THE CIRCLE JERKS were calling the shots; hence, the violent brevity of their cool, bonehead tuneage. This release of Back From Samoa demos came out under the QUEER PILLS moniker in hopes of throwing off the scent of LA DJ Rodney Bingenheimer, who’d they’d already alienated every which way but loose. It didn’t work and also meant that most of these 45s didn’t sell at the time, only to flood into record stores in the late 80’s. The record collector geek in me thanks the gods for this small karmic retribution.

5. Best GERMS effort: (GI) LP (Slash Records, ’79) Will anyone ever come up with a record this transcendent in the name of punkrock again? I don’t fucking think so. Yeah I’ve always kinda felt this record belongs nestled up against, say, yr COIL and POPOL VUH discs. Even now, listening to it transports me someplace far outside my body, where gtrs ring out hidden universal keys and a wordless growl makes the most complete sense in all the world. That these speed-fueled, teenage crybabies came up with something so timeless blows away all known laws of physics. I, for one, don’t like to imagine what Darby would’ve come up with had he’d hung around this Earth any longer – blowhard new wave? New-Ro balladeering? Cause he wasn’t never no kinda singer, nohow. What Darby was, was a truly potent wizard of cosmic proportions.

Much thanks to JB for his lifelong hoarding tendencies

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4 Responses to “Heart Attack & Vine”

  1. Dave Lang May 16, 2008 at 8:00 am #

    Two good points you made:

    For me, Fear were never the “real deal”, but had a few good songs up their sleeve, in a kinda cartoon-ish punker vein. That SNL footage is indeed a classic. Did you know that Ian MacKaye and his buddies were invited to the studio by none other than John Belushi?

    The Germs’ (GI) exists within its own universe. As it is now nearly 30 years old, it remains one of the great anomalies in rock music: a poetic masterpiece created by a bunch of suburban-brat Bowie/Queen/Runaways fans w/ “BURNOUT” written all over them. Fuggin’ sublime… and, like you said, as much as it sounds horrible to say it, it was probably a good thing that Darby left this orbit when he did. By 1982, he probably woulda been supporting Adam Ant on his “Kings Of The Wild Frontier” tour or something.

  2. eugene May 16, 2008 at 3:28 pm #

    wild! it’s a small internet.

  3. nazz nomad May 18, 2008 at 1:27 am #

    Mackaye came up with a group of DC skins for the snl show, i believe the story is related in the book American Hardcore. you can find the performance on youtube… I also posted it a long while back.

    and the Angry Samoans? Fuck yeah. I saw them back in 1982 or 3 in NYC which was the last show I think they played here until a year and a half ago when CBGB’s was closing (yep- went to that one too)!

  4. Joe Stumble May 18, 2008 at 3:34 pm #

    Great post man!

    I totally agree with your comparison of Fear and the Anti Nowhere League. The older I get the more I respect what Fear was doing. And yes…that GI LP exists in its own space. I always dug how The Zero Boys went into the studio to record Vicious Circle and when the engineer in Indiana asked what sound they were going for, they gave him a copy of GI.

    Re Black Randy….I’m sure Ziggy didnt make it on the reissue bc of copyright stuff….but Black Randy punked out the Thin White Duke in no time flat with the cover alone.

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