Sunday, October 16, 2016

Assfactor 4 'mastered' discography

I put together an Assfactor 4 collection many years ago, but after recently listening to it i realized it needed a massive upgrade (it was crap). I worked on this new collection over the past few months and can easily say it was the most time i've ever put into anything on this blog. I worked on each and every track until i was satisfied that the entire discography was uniform in sound quality and volume. I'm especially proud of this one. Hopefully an official Assfactor 4 discography sees the light of day in the future, it's long overdue. Assorted Porkchops, get on that shit!


Assfactor 4 Discography

Assfactor 4 from South Carolina formed in 1992 by two members of Tonka (Jay and Alex) and two members of Unherd (Eric and Kevin). I discovered this great band by reading a review of the "Smoked Out" 7" in the pages of MRR back in '94. I had never even heard of Assfactor 4 at the time, but the review said something about AF4 taking the best parts of Rorschach and condensing them into short songs, filling a 7" EP with 9 memorable tracks. Obviously i was curious as Rorscach was one of my favorite hardcore bands of the '90s. I'm pretty sure i ordered "Smoked Out" through Vacuum mailorder (i think i spent just about every penny i made on Vacuum during the early '90s). Anyway, the record floored me. Sure, there were some Rorchach influence, but this was something more, The music was fast, frantic and disjointed yet still melodic. The whole thing sounded like it could collapse at any second. The lyrics were as personal as i'd heard on a HC record, screamed like an adolescent version of Charles Maggio. It was like some unpopular high school kid's diary set to manic music. Just read the lyrics to the first track.
I'm too skinny, don't bother crushing me like meat between your "wisdom" and your "peace." Your boots have outrun my shoes and i don't know what to do so i lose. This is highschool, i never knew what to do - i just had to get that shit through.
And the second song starts - I am so tired i want to sleep and cry and dream of punk rock...
I had never heard anything quite like Assfactor 4 at the time. There were definite elements of bands like Merel and Heroin, but AF4 had their own unique sound. Their will never be another band that sounds like that. And even though they get lumped into the whole emo or "screamo" scene or whatever else, they're a hardcore band. Plain and simple.

Kevin (Evil Dean) - guitar / vocals
Eric (Cool Breeze) - guitar / vocals
Jay (Earth Boy) - bass / vocals
Alex (Commander Fun) - drums / vocals

The "Sports" LP was recorded in 1997 and released by Old Glory Records in 2000. This was the last Assfactor 4 album i heard, actually years after it came out. It was also the only one of their releases that didn't hit me immediately, probably due to the 10 year hiatus since first hearing the band. Now it's my favorite AF4 record, and maybe the best HC record released in 2000. Absolutely timeless, and a perfect swansong. Serious heartfelt punk hardcore that kicks you in the ass while retaining a great sense of humor. Song titles include "White House Is Alright If You Like Saxophones", "Forty'd Out And Feeling Gay", "Free Tibet And Pussy" and "Crank Up The 2short". Let's not forget the amazing Huey Lewis and the News parody cover, with band members and cats pasted on the actual 1983 Huey Lewis LP (also titled Sports), turning what looks like a scene from Cheers into a bizarre random collage. This is an excellent rip that you'd never believe was transferred from vinyl. Pretty much flawless, and i don't throw that word around casually.

The "Nothing's Quiet on The Eastern Front" comp was released on both LP and CD in 1996 on Reservoir Records. The LP came with a 16 page booklet. This is one of my favorite comps of the mid-'90s and is packed with killer East Coast hardcore bands active at the time. Mostly exclusive tracks from C.R. Devoid of Faith, Eucharist, Halfman, Coercion, Disassociate, AF4, Dropdead, Black Army Jacket, Brutal Truth, Judas Iscariot, Monster X and Suppression. The Assfactor 4 tracks are great. "Bonkee Number Three" is my fave track on the comp. "Cleenkee" is great as well, but it kind of pales in comparison. The Disassociate tracks are great as well. They contribute a batch of lo-fi demented songs (heavily influenced by MITB), that sound like they recorded the whole thing free-form in a pot smoke filled basement. It's awesome, and my fave thing they ever did. The Superfly (one of my all time fave movies) soundbite at the beginning of the Devoid of Faith song rules. Great cover art by Miguel Heredia. Concept by Andrew Orlando of Black Army Jacket and Reservoir Records. This was pretty much one of the last great comps of the '90s. About a year later the East Coast scene (and pretty much every other scene) was pretty much dead. It took a long time to recover.

The "Yo Hablo" comp 7" came out in 1996 on Lenguna Armada Discos, run by Martin of Los Crudos. Bands on the comp are Copout, Animal Farm, Arma Contra Arma, Haymarket, Jara, AF4 and Spitboy. As with most politically-minded Lenguna Armada releases, most lyrics deal with racism, sexism and other social problems. As with the "Nothing's Quiet on The Eastern Front" comp, the Assfactor 4 track is the best thing on the comp. To me anyway. "Boy Cult Seavers" is a ripper. I love the artwork and layout as well.

The Assfactor 4 self-titled LP was released in 1995 on Old Glory Records. It was recorded and mixed in 36 hours at Sweetwood Sounds in New Jersey. Unlike "Smoked Out", this album clicked on first listen. It's just an amazing collection of songs that still sounds great after 20 years. From the opening track "Hey Stinky" (with vocals by Charles of Rorschach) to the closer "Assfactor 4", it's just perfect, I listened to this album during the '90s more times than i can count, and i still listen to it today. Fave tracks are "I Reckon", "Fuck Hate Breeders", "Dorothy", and the killer cover of "Attempted Control" by Code of Honor from the great split LP with Sick Pleasure from 1982. I'm usually not big on covers, but not only is this an exceptional cover, it's also one of the highlights of the LP. Once again the record is filled with personal, sometimes humorous lyrics, and most of all, a shitload of memorable songs. A classic.

The "We've Lost Beauty: A Compilation For Christopher" comp LP was released in 1995 on File 13 Records. The comp was a tribute to Christopher Horne (1978-1994), the drummer of the band William Martyr 17 who was killed in a car accident in '94. The inserts include a memorial essay and a hand-assembled lyric book. The comp leans on the emo side of punk, even the cover and layout is in typical emo style. There are some great bands though, like Franklin and Current, but the Assfactor 4 track "Nemo" definitely stands out.

The "All The President's Men" comp LP was released in 1994 on Old Glory. The LP came with a 12 page booklet with info, and in some cases lyrics, for each band. The AF4 page reminds me of Ebullition for some reason. Once again this is a mostly emo punk comp, with a couple oddities thrown in, and once again Assfactor 4 steals the show with one of their best tracks ever, "Close Captioning For The Blind". This song opens the comp, and sets the bar too high for anything that follows. It's a pretty good comp though, and i remember spinning it quite a bit in the '90s. I really like the Hoover and Acme tracks.

The "Smoked Out" 7" was recorded in 2 days in March of '94. It was released in 1994 on Old Glory. The record contains a lyric and art sheet, and is housed in a fold-over cover, that when opened reveals the entire cover image. This is the best of their 7" EPs.

The "Sometimes I Suck" 7" was recorded at Jan Room Studio and released in 1993 on Repercussion Records. The songs "Is Love Just Jive Turkey?" and "Don't Fall In Love With..." were recorded in the winter of 1993. All other tracks were recorded in the summer of 1993. Lyric sheet included. Two different covers exist on Repercussion. There was also a pressing on Auricle Records, this version is a single sheet of 7" x 7" photocopied white paper printed on both sides. Lyrics/info included.

The Assfactor 4 / Rights Reserved split 7", also known as the "Underwater and Hatin' It" EP was released in 1993 on Fallen Squirrel Records. Two tracks by each band.

The song "Assfactor 4" was also on a compilation LP called "400 Day Headache" on Unite & Fight Records in 1993. Unfortunately that version is not in this collection. Also on that comp were tracks by pre-Assfactor bands Tonka and Unherd, as well as a great collection of pop-punk, hardcore and crust bands. The comp was a benefit for Rainforest Action Network. If anyone has a rip of that album, please hook me up.

Also not in the collection is the track "12 Years Of Living Hell" from the "Big Pants Waste Precious Fabric" comp CD released in 1995 on No Idea Records. It came with issue 11 of No Idea Fanzine. A slightly faster version of the song is on the self-titled LP, re-titled "Dear Grampa". I didn't include the original version as it would have put the collection just over 80 minutes. However, the "Big Pants..." comp is somewhere in this post for download. Just gotta hunt.

According to online sources, there's also an Assfactor 4 demo from '93. Good luck finding that.



 Assfactor 4 - Live on WFMU 5/27/93

This is a great sounding set from one of the 2 times AF4 played live on Pat Duncan's show on WFMU. All tracks from the "Sometimes I Suck" 7" and split with Rights Reserved, plus the self-titled track from the "400 Day Headache" comp. The other WFMU set was recorded 1/07/93 and has a bunch of songs not on any releases. I'd love to hear that.

Post-Assfactor 4

Nearly ten years after the break up, guitarist Evil Dean of AF4 and drummer Cuz got together with bassist Curly from the metal band Necrocide to continue in the tradition of Assfactor 4 (especially on the great "Parasitic Host" LP). The music is a bit heavier and less loose and chaotic than their '90s stuff, but that Assfactor 4 spirit is still there. On the heavier stuff, it kinda sounds to me like AF4 mixed with Ringworm.


Sled Discography

The Sled demo was recorded in March of 2007 at The Jam Room in Columbia SC. It was self-released on CDR in '07. Most of the tracks are mid-paced and metallic, but a few songs, like "Whale" and "Metal Boy Band" stand out as a sign of what would be coming by 2011. The Sled self-titled LP was released on Lunchbox Records in 2010. Half the album was re-recordings of demo tracks. This is my least favorite Sled release. It's not bad really. I guess, based on the members, i was expecting more frantic, melodic hardcore and less Integrity crunch.

Sled's newest album, "Parasitic Host" is another animal completely. It was released in 2011 on Lunchbox, but i'm not sure if any actual vinyl or CD exists. You can download the album from the band's bandcamp page here. This one kills. Twelve tracks of fast melodic hardcore with screamed vocals. That old Assfactor vibe is definitely there this time, and the songs are as memorable as anything these guys ever did. Just perfect from beginning to end. Highest recommendation.

Pre-Assfactor 4

Unherd started in the fall of 1992 with AF4 members Eric and Kevin. Their 1993 self-titled LP on Assorted Porkchops is excellent. The LP is half straight-forward melodic hardcore rippers and half indie/emo/punk. Like a mix of Garden Variety, Chisel, Fugazi and even a bit of Moss Icon on some tracks. Unlike those bands, Unherd remained mostly unknown, as great as they were.


Unherd LP (1993)

Kevin - bass / vocals
Eric - guitar
Ryan - drums

Aside from the album, Unherd had tracks on a bunch of other (not so easy to find) releases.

The Straight Up / Unherd split 7" was released on Young Funky Records in 1991. I've never heard this record, or any Straight Up for that matter. They had a track called "Walklin' Around" on the "Stupid By The Grace Of God" comp 7" (Assorted Porkchops 1992), along with Bedlam Hour, Toast and Unherd. They had a track called "Nosebleed" on the great "Stereonucleosis Comes To You House" comp 7" (Stereonucleosis 1991), with tracks by Antischism, Buzz Oven, and Tolerance. Their song "Peel" was on the "400 Day Headache" comp LP (Unite & Fight 1993), along with tracks by Assfactor 4, Tonka, J Church, Rights Reserved, Youth Gone Mad and many more. Lastly, they had a track called "Saturday" on the "Please No Profanity" comp LP. Other bands on that comp included Tonks, Bedlam Hour, In/Humanity and even Hootie and the Fucking Blowfish. The CD was a benefit for South Carolina college radio. Released by WUSC (Columbia) and WSBF (Clemson.

I'd love to see some kind of Unherd discography one day, but that seems extremely unlikely. If i can ever locate all the tracks, i'd for sure put something together for the blog.

Tonka was formed at the start of the '90s by Jay and Alex (future bass player and drummer for Assfactor 4 respectively) prior to Unherd and AF4. They played pop infused hardcore punk with an obvious DC post-hardcore influence. I also hear elements of Hated in there, as well as the first Sleeper EP, and a touch of early Jawbreaker (maybe the 7" cover is a tribute of sorts?). The song "Take It Back" from the "400 Day Headache" comp is my fave, as it's a bit more on the fast discordant HC side, pretty similar to tracks on the "Sometimes I Suck" 7".


Tonka - Anthology 1992-1993

The "Calling Waffle House Home" 7" was released on Assorted Porkchops in 1992. Four great poppy HC tracks that brings to mind early Chisel material, in both the music and production. In fact Chisel has a song called "Waffle House", although the Tonka EP may have come out first. Anyway, who gives a shit?

I won't go into detail over all the compilations that Tonka contributed to, as most of them were already discussed throughout this post. Track 10 is a short studio pisstake on "Smells Like Teen Spirit". The vocals are hysterical. The last 2 tracks are unreleased songs and are both killer tracks. Far from filler. The sound quality on "Over" is not too hot, but everything else sounds great.

13 Easter Eggs.

Enjoy

Friday, June 3, 2016

Deathrock California

The deathrock scene in California in the early '80s produced some of my favorite music ever, in any genre. Even 30 years after first hearing most of this stuff it still gets plenty of spins.

Since i was a little kid, i was always into campy horror movies, EC comics, Black Sabbath... anything on the darker side. When i first got into punk and hardcore in '87, i was obviously infatuated with The Misfits. Then, somewhere around 1989, i finally heard the sounds i'd been waiting for. "Only Theatre Of Pain", "Sleep In Safety" and "Autopsy", the ultimate goth-punk trifecta. I guess i thought this was a doorway to a whole new world of amazing albums, but it turned out there was really only a handful of stuff like this out there, with these 3 records being at the very top.

I'm really looking forward to the upcoming book "Phantoms: The Rise of Deathrock from the LA Punk Scene". It amazes me that this extremely influential sub-genre that gave birth to the entire Goth scene was never properly documented until now. The music itself was never really documented in compilation form either. Outside of a few key punk comps that had some great deathrock tracks scattered throughout, like "Hell Comes to Your House", "Can't Argue With Sucksess" and "American Youth Report", there's really no definitive collection of just deathrock bands. Some labels like Cleopatra Records tried a few times with so-called deathrock comps, but they're pretty badly researched. They all have the same, few, early '80s bands like 45 Grave (always "Evil"), Christian Death (usually not the classic early stuff for copyright reasons), Kommunity FK (always "We Will Not Fall"), and sometimes Super Heroines. From there it always falls apart with late '80s and '90s goth and rockabilly bands that just happen to be from CA. Stuff without the punk edge that takes itself a bit too seriously. Strobelight Records did a little better job with their "Kaliffornian Deathrock" comp, and their "New Dark Age" series is great. Kudos to them. A while back i put together my own compilation of favorite early '80s dark LA punk songs, and i figured i'd share it here.

I've included hidden links of collections (mostly discographies i put together myself) for just about every band on the comp. To make it easy, each band link is in that respective band's paragraph in the "band rundown" below. I also threw in some of the key compilations mentioned. So there's actually around 20 downloads in this post. Collect them all!!




Deathrock California: The Darker Side of California Punk Rock: 1980-1985

Here's the rundown of the bands/tracks:

Secret Hate were an incredibly talented and diverse punk band from Long Beach. They had killer tracks on following compilation LPs: "Hell Comes to Your House" (1981), "You Can't Argue With Sucksess" (1982), and "When Men Were Men... And Sheep Were Scared" (1985). They also put out the "Vegetables Dancing" 12" on New Alliance Records in 1983. The CD version of "Vegetables Dancing" has the 2 tracks from the "When Men Were Men..." comp LP, and a live set from Bruin's Den, Long Beach in 1982, but the other 4 comp tracks are missing for some reason. But hey, maybe some crazy bastard put all the tracks together in one file and even mastered all the tracks to the same volume, ripped it at 320kbps and hid it in some blog post. Who knows? I would guess Secret Hate would not be considered a deathrock band, as half their discography is straight punk rippers with the occasional odd influence seeping in, but the other half of their songs has an obvious influence from the dark sounds that were going on around them in LA at the time. Deathrock California tracks: "Charade" is from the "You Can't Argue With Sucksess" comp LP put out on Mystic Records in 1982. This track has a heavy Christian Death vibe, in both the music and the vocals, and shows that the band can write a goth-punk tune on par with the best of them. "Death In the Desert" is from the "When Men Were Men... And Sheep Were Scared" put out on Bremisbrain Records in 1985. This is my favorite Secret Hate song. Just an epic track full of memorable riffs. They were definitely in their prime at this time, and of course this is when they broke up. They got back together in the '90s though, after Sublime covered their song "The Ballad of Johnny Butt", putting them on the mainstream map.

Voodoo Church from Los Angeles released just one (incredible) 4 song 12" EP put out on Second Death Records in 1982. They reformed roughly 20 years later and released the "Unholy Burial" CD in 2004, and the "Eminence of Demons" CD in 2009 (with Rikk Agnew on second guitar), both put out by Strobelight Records. Deathrock California tracks: "Eyes (Second Death)" and "Live With the Dead" are both tracks from the 1982 12" EP. To keep the entire compilation in CD quality, i used mastered versions from CD comps. "Eyes (Second Death" was taken from the Kaliffonian Deathrock" comp CD put out on Strobelight in 2006 and "Live With the Dead" was taken from the "Strobelights Vol. 1" comp CD put out on Strobelight in 2004.

Burning Image from Bakersfield were another band with a very thin '80s output. All that was officially released was the self-released, two-song "Final Conflict" 7" in 1984 and one track on the great "Let's Die" comp LP put out on Mystic in 1985. Fortunately, Alternative Tentacles put out the "1983-1987" CD in 2004, which included the EP and comp tracks along with 10 unreleased songs. Like Voodoo Church, Burning Image reformed over 20 years later. They released the "Fantasma" full length CD on Alternative Tentacles in 2009, the "Orleander" download album on Revelation in 2011, and the "Grand Guignol" CD (what, they never heard Naked City?!) on Mokat Records in 2014. And like Voodoo Church, i've never heard anything they did past the '80s. Deathrock California track: Time Is Running Out was one of the unreleased songs from the "1983-1987" CD. The first song the band ever wrote, and also the best in my opinion.

45 Grave were from Los Angeles. They formed in 1979, playing ripping punk hardcore songs with campy horror themed lyrics, pretty much kick-starting everything. Of course you can argue that singer Dinah Cancer's previous band Castration Squad was the first California deathrock band, but they never released anything, or even recorded anything as far as i know. Plus they were awful. 45 Grave were just amazing on the other hand, with Paul Cutler from The Consumers, Rob Graves from The Bags and Gun Club, and Don Bolles from Germs and Nervous Gender. Most notable in the band's discography is the ripping "Black Cross" 7" put out on Goldar Records in 1981, the incredible "Autopsy" anthology LP put out on Restless Records in 1987 and the "Sleep in Safety" LP put out on Enigma Records in 1983. There also released various 12" EPs and comp tracks throughout the '80s, but all the essential material is on "Autopsy" and "Sleep in Safety". One of my top 10 favorite punk bands of all time. Deathrock California tracks: "Consumers" and "Choices" are both from the "Autopsy" LP, a compilation of material from 1981, half of which were Consumers songs, as well as the 2 tracks from the "Black Cross" 7". "Choices" is one of the 2 tracks that Paul Cutler sings (the other being "Eye"), and is one of my fave punk songs ever written. Just perfect. "Bad Love" is from the "Sleep in Safety" LP.

D.I. from Fullerton released a bunch of records from 1983 to about 1996, and then again from 2002 to present. The best would be the self-titled 12" put out on Revenge Records in 1983 (later released as the "Team Goon" LP in 1986), the "Ancient Artifacts" LP, and the "Horse Bites, Dog Cries" LP, both on Reject Records, both in 1985. Word of warning - stay away from "Richard Hung Himself" comp LP from 2007. I figured this was a collection of remastered tracks, but it's actually a collection of re-recorded tracks, Suicidal style. Deathrock California tracks: The great and probably most well-known D.I. song (thanks to the movie Suburbia), "Richard Hung Himself" from the original 1983 S/T 12" on Revenge Records, and the Sabbath-like "Wounds From Within" from my favorite D.I. record, "Ancient Artifacts", put out on Revenge in '85. You'll recognize some of the songs on that album from Rikk Agnew's 1982 LP "All By Myself".

Red Scare from L.A. were one of the most overlooked yet most talented bands from the early '80s Cali scene. They released the "Then There Were None" LP on Upstart Records in 1984 which included classic dark tracks like "Don't Look In The Basement", "Red Rum" and the incredible "Street Life". They also appeared on various comps throughout the early '80s, most notably the classic "Meathouse" comp cassette from '82. Grand Theft Audio re-released their LP in 1995 on the "As Promised (1982-1988)" CD, which also included demos, unreleased tracks, comp tracks and a live set. Well worth tracking down. Vocalist Bobbi Brat, one of the best female punk singers ever imo, died of cancer in 1988 at age 26. There's a great site dedicated to her memory here. Deathrock California track: "Red Rum", one of my faves from the "Then There Were None" LP. A song about Kubrick's classic giving Bobbi nightmares."The Shining won't let me sleep, it won't let me rest...". That film had the same effect om me as a kid.

T.S.O.L. (True Sounds Of Liberty) formed in the late '70s in Huntington Beach. They put out a few great EPs in the early '80s and 2 classic LPs. The legendary "Dance With Me" LP on Frontier Records in 1981 and the more progressive and keyboard-heavy "Beneath The Remains" LP put out on Alternative Tentacles a year later. They also appeared on more comp than you can imagine. T.S.O.L. kept going, in various forms, for nearly 30 years, churning out slab after slab, including hair-metal albums at one point in the late '80s. All you need is the first 2 LPs and the "Thoughts Of Yesterday: 1981-1982" LP put out by Posh Boy in '87 and you'll pretty much have all their essential material. Deathrock California track: "Sounds Of Laughter", the goth-punk opener of the "Dance With Me" LP, which also appeared on the "American Youth Report" comp LP put out in 1982 on Invasion Records.

Christian Death, another legendary band from Los Angeles, and maybe the most important. Certainly the most influential, to many different genres of music. Along with 45 Grave, Xian Death have always been one of my favorite bands of all time. To me the first 3 albums and the "Deathwish" EP are perfect. But there are lots of great obscure songs scattered throughout the time Rozz was with the band, like the 1985 demo tracks, "Haloes" and "Spectre", which can be found on various collections, including the "Invocations" comp CD put out on Cleopatra in 1993. Anyway, they must have put out well over 20 albums between 1982 and today, but after "Ashes", i couldn't give a shit. Deathrock California tracks: "Deathwish" and "Romeo's Distress", both from the "Deathwish" mini-LP recorded in 1981 (the band's first recordings) and not released until 1984. I like these version better than the ones on the "Only Theatre Of Pain" LP. Actually my fave version of "Romeo's Distress" is the 1981 demo version which you can hear on the "Six Six Sixth Communion" rarities CD. Rozz's vocals sound so great on that recording, much less dramatic than i've ever heard from him. He kinda sounds like a young Robert Smith. It rules. The only reason i didn't include it on the comp is the sound. Not that it's terrible, but it wouldn't have matched the rest of the quality of the comp. The live version of "Theatre Of Pain" is from "The Decomposition Of Violets", originally released on cassette on Roir in 1985. The LP and CD versions came out in 1990 on Contempo Records. I like this live version much better than the studio version from the first LP, where it's titled "Mysterium Iniquitatis". This version is an almost completely different arrangement. They should have recorded it like this on the debut. It would have even fit perfectly on the second LP.

Conservatives were a killer Long Beach band who unfortunately released a total of 6 tracks between 1981 and 1982 and are today a total mystery. They released 3 tracks on the "Hell Comes To Your House" comp LP in 1981 ("Suburban Bitch", "Just Cuz" and "Nervous"), and 3 tracks on the You Can't Argue With Sucksess" comp LP in 1982 ("Confusion", "Nuclear Madness" and "Beaver Cleaver"). And that's it. I've never seen any further info on this band, except that one of the band members went by the name Butthole. If ever i wished a band from the early '80s had released more material, this would be the one. Deathrock California tracks: "Nuclear Madness" is a nice life-affirming number about slowly dying of radiation. Slow, doomy stuff with almost spoken lyrics. "Nervous" is pretty much the polar opposite musically. It's a quick hardcore ripper that clocks in at maybe a minute or so. Lyrically, however, it's just as nihilistic and negative as "Nuclear Madness". All there songs are worth hearing, and they're all in this post.

Legal Weapon were yet another super talented female-fronted punk band from Los Angeles. What was in the water down there? Between 1981 and 2002 they released 7 LPs and 8 EPs. All you really need is the first 2 LPs and the first 7" EP. Their early comp tracks kicked ass too. The 5-song "No Sorrow" 7" EP was released in 1981 on Arsenal Records and is a killer debut. The "Death Of Innocence" LP (my fave) was released in 1982 and the "Your Weapon" LP in 1983, both on Arsenal. Frank Agnew of The Adolescents and D.I. played guitar on "Death Of Innocence". Such an underrated '80s punk album. To me it's as classic as pretty much anything else released at the time. Deathrock California track: "Daddy's Gone Mad" from the "Hell Comes To Your House" comp. Easily my favorite recording the band ever did, and maybe even my favorite song on the comp, which says a lot. Such a great chorus. They re-recorded this track for their first album, but they over-did it with all kinds of back ups and overdubs. This stripped-down version is far superior, and really the only time the band sounded exactly this way. They actually sound a hell of a lot like 45 Grave ("Autopsy-era) on this recording, so much so that i would have bet anything that Paul Cutler was playing guitar on it the first time i heard it. Even vocalist Kat sounds a lot like Dinah Cancer here. If they would have recorded an entire album with this exact sound (and superior songwriting), it probably would have been my fave '80s female-fronted punk LP, right  up there with "Sleep In Safety". Oh well, at least i have this one track. And as much as i love their other stuff, i almost always come back to this song when i'm in the mood for a little Weapon.

Adolescents were a Fullerton favorite, even though they really only released one good LP and one good EP. I guess it helped that they had killer tracks on key comps like "Rodney On The Roq" (1980 Posh Boy), "American Youth Report" (1982 Invasion), and "Someone Got There Head Kicked In!" (1982 Better Youth Organization). It also didn't hurt that they knew how to write excellent and memorable hardcore songs with pop sensibilities. Rikk Agnew's guitar playing cemented the deal with his Greg Sage style (pretty sure they started around the same time, so i'm not sure if one was actually influenced by the other, but the similarities are undeniable). You could feel that Christian Death style starting to creep in on certain tracks (like "Kids Of The Black Hole"), pretty much laying the groundwork for the goth style that would take shape years later. The self-titled "Blue Album", released on Frontier in '81 was great, but my fave was always the follow-up "Welcome To Reality" EP, released on Frontier that same year. Rikk Agnew was gone at this point, just leaving his brother Frank on guitar duties, but for me they just fucking nailed it with those 3 tracks. Deathrock California track: "Losing Battle" from the "Welcome To Reality" 7". First song i ever heard by Adolescents, and still my fave. I heard it on the "American Youth Report" comp LP and it blew me away. It just sounded so much heavier and angrier than anything on the debut LP. And the vocals never sounded better. "Now suicidal, caught in a trap. Can't get out don't want to fight back. Now the firing squad is set. To give me the bullet to help me forget...". Love that shit. If only they made a second full length at that time, it would have been a monster.

Rikk Agnew! Since the Adolescents track was from the EP that Rikk didn't play on, i figured a good following track would be from Rikk Agnew's 1982 solo LP "All By Myself", put out on Frontier Records. An absolute punk classic, with Rikk writing all the music and playing all the instruments. I think it kicks the Adolescents album's ass. Deathrock California track: "Yur 2 Late". I was tough picking one track off that album, every song is great, but the riffs on "Yur 2 Late" are just so damn perfect. A perfect song from one of the originators of the entire goth scene. It doesn't get much better. I never heard the second album "Turtle" from '92, or anything from Rikk Agnew's Yard Sale.

Super Heroines from L.A. were a great (mostly) female deathrock band that had a sinister punk vibe similar to early Christian Death. Part of that inspiration could have been from Eva-O being in the band, who played with Christian Death for a while. The first 2 albums are great. "Cry For Help" from 1982 and "Souls That Save" from 1983, both released on Bemisbrain Records. They also had 2 killer tracks on the "Hell Comes To Your House" comp, and even put out a third LP in '93. In 2006 Cleopatra Records put out 2 separate Super Heroines anthologies. Both are great, but the "Anthology 1982-1985" is essential. It has all 3 albums, so i'm assuming that 3rd LP was recorded much earlier than 1993. The other anthology is more of a "best-of" type collection, which i usually find pretty useless. Deathrock California tracks: "The Beast" is the massive opener from the first LP and "Embalmed Love" is one of the 2 tracks they did for the "Hell Comes To Your House" comp LP. It's a great alternating mix of gloomy dirge and thrashy punk. I can't make out most of the lyrics, but i'm guessing it's a necrophiliac love song.

Lost Cause from Orange put out a killer 7" called "Born Dead" in 1981, even more impressive because of how young they were at the time, with half the band being around 14 years old. In '82 they put out the "Forgotten Corners" LP with a different vocalist. Both records were released on High Velocity Records. They also have some other recordings that i'm not sure ever made it to vinyl, as they recorded 6 tracks for the debut 7" and only 4 were used. They called it quits shortly after the LP came out. It would be great if someone reissued all this stuff. Grand Theft Audio used one of the EP tracks on their "High Road To Obscurity" comp back in 2000, so i was hoping maybe they would do it. Wishful thinking. Deathrock California track: "Lost Cause". The title track from the '81 7" EP which i actually first heard on the "American Youth Report" comp. It came right after the Adolescents "Losing Battle", and it always seemed like the perfect one-two punch for me. Those song seemed as connected to me as "Heartbreaker/Living Loving Maid". Even 30 years later, when i hear "Losing Battle" on the Adolescents CD, i expect to hear that echo-like guitar kick in. Whatever, i'm rambling like Lenny Bruce all of a sudden... anyway, dig, "Born Dead" was really the only creepy track on the record. A haunting galloping melody with lyrics about a still-birth. The other 3 tracks were pretty straight-forward punk rippers, but every track is good.

Peace Corpse from Pomona put out the classic "Quincy's Lament" 7" in 1983 on Toxic Shock Records, which seemed more of a parody of the deathrock genre than being influenced by it. With songs like "Dead In A Pile Of Chairs", "Small Talk Death" and "JockoMacho", you could tell they didn't take themselves very seriously. But spoof or not, fuck if they didn't pull off the sound perfectly. The Pushead cover of Jack Klugman from the TV show Quincy is absolutely amazing. Such a great record that Toxic Shock even reissued it in 2010 as an LP re-titled "Terror Of Quincy". This version included 3 bonus tracks. The A-side of their 1986 12" "The Terror Of History", which was less punk and less satirical than the EP, and more doomy sounding. They never should have changed their sound. These recordings feature future maniac of Man Is The Bastard, Eric Wood on bass.  Peace Corpse also released some comp tracks, including the great "Breach Birth Generation" on the "Barricaded Suspects" comp LP released on Toxic Shock in 1983. They also had 2 tracks on the "Budget Ranch Box" 3x7" box set put out on Budget Ranch in 1986. One was a ZZ Top cover called "TV Dinners" and the other was a kick ass cover of Neil Young's "L.A.". Toxic Shock should have just released everything on CD in 2010. Anyway, it's possible someone else did. Deathrock California track: "Breach Birth Generation", the great opener of the "Barricaded Suspects" comp.

Kommunity FK, another classic L.A. band, seemed to be more influenced by the post-punk and new wave sounds of Bowie and Joy Division, as well as more experimental stuff, like maybe Nurse With Wound or something. Their debut 1983 album, "The Vision And The Voice", put out on Independent Project Records, went back and forth from dark punk songs to fucked up damaged art shit. Excellent album if you can get through all of it. They put out one more album in the '80s called "Close One Sad Eye", and then took a little 25 year break before recording again. Deathrock California tracks: "Anti-Pop" and "We Will Not Fall" from "The Vision And The Voice" LP. "Anti-Pop" is one of the most perfectly crafted and unique punk songs i've ever heard. I never get sick of hearing it, it's just flawless. "We Will Not Fall" is the Kommunity FK track that seems to make it to all the goth comps, and with good reason. It rules. I couldn't resist.

The Flesh Eaters from Hollywood put out a lot a good records during the '80s, but it was their second LP "A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die" (1981 Ruby Records), that it all came together perfectly. One of the most unique, unsettling and bizarre records in the history of punk. The music is kind of a weirdo mutation of punk, jazz and blues, with marimbas, xylophone and sax expertly weaved into their instrumentation, topped off with demented lyrics sang by what sounds like a satanic psycho-ward patient trying to keep it together for the album before they have to throw him back into his padded room. "Roots rock voodoo blues" is how their sound has been self-described. "See You In The Boneyard" is my favorite track from the album, just total madness, with xylophone playing that reminds me of the skeleton fighting scene in The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad. Awesome and original as hell. Deathrock California track: "Pony Dress" from the "American Youth Report" comp. A great dark punk track that simply fit this comp more than anything from the superior LP.

U.X.A. were originally from San Francisco, but moved to L.A. early on in their inception. They recorded their great "Illusions Of Grandeur" LP in the late '70s, and put out a pre-release of the album in 1980 on Posh Boy, housed in a cardboard sleeve with the title stamped on it. The official album with artwork and lyric sheet came out in '81. Not a deathrock album, but this record definitely had dark tinges of what would become the Cali sound. I would imagine "Illusions Of Grandeur" had a pretty big influence over many of the bands mentioned in this post. Vocalist De De Troit looks like a starlet right out of a 1930s movie on the LP cover. They reformed in the early '90s and put out a bunch of new material which i never checked out. The debut LP was re-released in 1990 and again in 2004 on Get Back Records. The also had 2 tracks on the "Tooth And Nail" comp LP (Upsetter Records 1979) including one track exclusive to the comp called "Social Circle". This early California punk comp also had tracks by Controllers, Flesh Eaters, Negative Trend, Middle Class and Germs. Deathrock California track: "U.X.A." from the "Illusions Of Grandeur" LP. My fave U.X.A. track. This one's taken from the newly remastered version that can be downloaded on sites like Amazon. The remastered LP sounds great, and has a bunch of bonus tracks. Not sure why they changed the title and artwork though. I would think it would just make it harder for people searching for the record online. But whatever, i'm just glad it's available.

That's it for this time. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Warzone

The first time i heard anything Warzone-related was on Pat Duncan's radio show in early 1987. It was a live version of the song "Skinhead Youth" by the band of the same name. I searched like crazy for any demos by Skinhead Youth, but of course that's pretty rare to come by, even then. I had only recently discovered hardcore/punk music at that time, and had zero knowledge of Warzone, Raybeez, Agnostic Front etc. The only HC records i owned were the first Suicidal LP and DRI's "Dealing With It". Some weeks later a friend took me to a record store in Dover, NJ where i bought the first Warzone album (thinking the track "Skinhead Youth" was a cover song actually). The Warzone LP instantly became a favorite, and was pretty much my introduction to NYHC (along with the SFA "NY" '87 demo). But the Warzone record was something different entirely. Hearing "Don't Forget the Struggle...", and then later hearing recordings like "Victim in Pain", the Cro-Mags and Breakdown demos etc... they just sounded like New York City. Street hardcore. The same way a band like Adolescents sounded like beach hardcore.

I think one of the keys (to me) to a great hardcore band, is the ability to vividly remember first hearing them, and i remember spinning that Warzone LP like it was last week. The back cover and insert images of the band threw me for a loop. And then of course the album intro "Yo, wus up wit dat, less start jammin'! I was half-way expecting another Licensed To Ill. Instead, of course, i got 12 incredible hardcore songs that still stand up 25 years later.


 Warzone - Crucial Recordings

This is a collection of demos, comp tracks and other rarities spanning 1984-1988 with far superior sound quality than the collection i posted years back.

The first 2 tracks are from the classic New York City Hardcore: The Way It Is comp LP, released in 1988 on Revelation. The NYHC scene kind of exploded between 1986 and 1988, and this was one of the first documents showing that the scene in NYC was finally catching up with the rest of the US. Better late than never. Great and diverse (Bold followed by Nausea!!) comp that barely scratches the surface as to what was going on at that time. 320 rip from CD version.

The US Of Oi! comp LP was also released in '88, and features a completely different version of Don't Forget the Struggle... I prefer the original, but it's always great to hear alternate takes on classics. Some killer tracks by YDL and Anti-Heroes on the comp as well. 320 rip from CD version.

The WNYU tracks were recorded on July 23, 1987. These versions were taken from the New York City: Those Were the Days Vol. II compilation CD put out by Chaotic Records. This is not the entire session unfortunately (pretty sure 2 tracks were cut for the CD), but it's the best sounding source i've ever heard of these recordings. The CD also has tracks by Nihilistics, Token Entry, Norman Bates and the Showerheads (great band), and Krakdown, all recorded live on WNYU between 1987 and 1990.

Next up is the meat of the comp. The Some Records tape. Fourteen tracks recorded in 1986, including many that weren't properly recorded until years later and a ripping 7 Seconds cover that became a staple at Warzone shows. For me, these are the definitive versions of these songs. That raw a fuck guitar sound, and Raybeez' vocals never sounded better. Tracks from this session were released on the Lower East Side Crew 7" put out in 1987 as Rev. 1. The entire set was booted onto vinyl in 2008 as the "Street Kids Demo" along with the 1984 Tommy Rat demos. Not sure where i came across the rip here, but it sounds incredible. Best i've heard, and i must have had 5 or 6 versions of this over the years. Easily one of the best NYHC recordings of all time. "Don't forget the struggle, don't forget the street kids!!"

Raybeez with the Warzone Women

The heavily traded (back in the day) "As One" demo was distributed by Raybeez in response to the 7" selling so fast with many rabid fans still needing their fix. There were 50 copies of the original tape (slightly altered later) that were copied by Raybeez and given to Some Records to sell. Not sure which version is posted here, but there were 3 more tracks on tape, which were omitted here. "Don't Forget the Struggle...", which is the same version as on the Some Records tape, so that's already in this collection, and 2 live covers. Wire's "12XU" and of course 7 Seconds "Young Til I Die". On the rip i got the sound on the live tracks were beyond shitty. Unlistenable really. This is a great demo, and this has surprisingly great sound for a demo that has not been re-released in any was for the past 30 years. Thanks to Cooch for this one. There was also a Don Fury rehearsal tape recorded in '87 that was basically the Gorilla Biscuits lineup with Raybeez singing. Would love to hear that! Hopefully somebody properly documents all this essential stuff one day as there would be enough in the way of demos, rehearsals and live sets for a double LP or CD. I heard Revelation is planning on releasing old Warzone material, but judging by their output, it will most likely be the first 2 LPS and maybe the comp tracks. Maybe even a remastered (and castrated) version of the LES Crew ep? I doubt there will be anything to cream about, but hey, hopefully they prove me wrong. Thanks to Cooch for the rip, and for various info throughout this post.

Last up is the pre-Warzone incarnation, Skinhead Youth. Recorded live at CBGB during the infamous show in 1984. It's an incredible set, with many songs that would wind up on the first 2 Warzone LPs. Lots of banter between songs. Great sound, great set. One of my favorite live NYHC recordings. I have yet to find a decent sounding rip (or tape) of the Skinhead Youth demo. One of my top wants.


Warzone - the first 2 albums

The "Don't Forget the Struggle, Don't Forget the Streets" LP was recorded in August 1987 at Studio X in Ridgewood, NJ. It was released on Fist Records in 1987. It was repressed in '88 on Fist/Caroline Records. Last (unofficial) pressing i know of was in 2012 on red vinyl, with lyric insert and stickers. I traded off my first press years ago, along with lots of other rare shit, which i now regret of course.

"Open Your Eyes" was recorded in August, 1988 at the Kampo Cultural Center in NYC and released on Caroline the same year. A great follow-up although a bit more mid-paced. My fave tracks are the 2 reworkings of early Skinhead Youth songs. Love the cover and band pics.

Both albums were released on one CD in 1994 on Another Planet Records when they were in their 'two NYHC albums on one disc' phase. I remember having CDs by Cro-Mags, Murphy's Law and Leeway many years back. Those are almost impossible to come by now. The same CD was then released by Lost & Found in various pressings between 1994 and 1997. The first pressing had an odd cover depicting two dogs attacking each other, and was later changed to the cover shown above. This is a 320 rip from Lost & Found CD.


Warzone - The 1989 Demos and Live at CBGB

So now we get to 1989. Warzone releases one of the worst 'metal/rock album by a hardcore band' in the history of 'metal/rock albums by a hardcore band'. Seems like every scene in the '80s died when classic hardcore bands decided they had "chops" and all of a sudden wanted to be the next Van Halen. It happened in Boston, DC and California and of course NY would follow suit. Of course some pretty good albums came out of that whole mess. I love the Void LP for instance. It sound like exactly what it is - Void trying to play rock songs. How could that not be great? Same for the YDI album. But when the bands got it wrong... holy shit (ever hear Antidote's "Return to Burn" LP?). It was inevitable during the late '80s that metal would influence the NYHC scene. Let's just say Agnostic Front got it right and Warzone got it wrong. The Warzone s/t album was released (for some reason) on vinyl, cassette and CD in 1989 on Caroline Records, and i can only imagine the amount of jaws that hung open as this slab hit turntables in NYC.

The demo for the album is a different story though. While not as great as any of the band's previous work, it's a pretty good hardcore/metal demo. In fact, most of the best tracks from the demo didn't make it to the album, and the tracks that did were changed drastically. The demo has a raw sound, Raybeez' vocals sound good, and there are some rippers. Basically they should have released the demo as the album. A different album cover wouldn't have hurt either. The title for track 1 is "Out of Control" and track 5 is "On the Run". Also included is six songs recorded live at CBGB in 1992. Great sound.

Luckily Warzone's rock phase didn't last long and they continued to put out hardcore records throughout the '90s. The "Lower East Side" album released on Victory in 1996 has some re-recordings of classics that were never properly recorded in the '80s. I kind of lost interest at that point. For me the band peaked around '86, but remains one of my favorite NYHC bands ever. RIP Raybeez.

Everyone loves Warzone!

There's a great Raybeez tribute here.
Raybeez interview here.
Six Easter Eggs in post.