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by Justin CollectorScum
We're back for the third installment of my showcase for the "other song" by comped bands, and unknown stuff generally not worthy of a comp appearance, but interesting nevertheless. As alluded to in my last column, we're going to kick it off with a couple of reggae/ska-influenced tracks that I actually enjoy. Like most punk collectors, I usually cringe when I throw an unknown record on the turntable and I hear a syncopated guitar line, but occasionally one of these tracks will rise above.
Flipsides: (Blame the Clash edition)
The liners to Killed By Death #5 say "The obscurist 45 on Volume 5 is the Cowboys. All we can tell you is it's from 1980 and mentions Ohio on the sleeve." It's now pretty well known that vocalist Billy Lee Buckeye was actually Mark Eitzel, who reverted to using his real name for his second record a year later with the Naked Skinnies (an excellent single, but not punk rock) and went on to later fame with American Music Club and a solo career. It seems he's disowned this first record, as a reliable source told me Eitzel tossed all his copies of it in a dumpster a few years after its release. Perhaps that lack of stock copies is what makes it so "obscurist". "Teenage Life", the only punk song Eitzel ever recorded, is the KBD-comped track, and is the B-side to Supermarket, a slow-burn ska song which works mostly thanks to just enough snottiness in the vocals.
The "No One Left to Blame" comp LP kicks off with DV8's "Guns on the Right" (Chicago, 1981), an almost hardcore track which absolutely jumps out of the speakers. Like the Cowboys' "Supermarket", this was the B-side to a very different sounding track, showing that at least one member of DV8 must have been a huge fan of the Clash. That band is probably responsible for the vast majority of punk bands experimenting with reggae and ska sounds, and while a lot of the resulting songs are stinkers, I think Learn to Say Goodbye is also saved by the strength of the vocal delivery.
Uncompables: (Deep South edition)
Since I'm constantly working on the Volume 3 Discography of American Punk, I tend to pay very close attention to where bands are from. Name just about any American punk group from the late 70s or early 80s, and I can tell you what state they came from, and probably the city. If a band is from NYC or LA, then that fact isn't too interesting, as lots of punk bands came from those cities. But with more out-of-the-way locales like New Mexico (Grackles) or Hawaii (Fuckin' Flyin' A-Heads), you've got to give extra credit to the band for actually existing and putting a record out. The following couple of records are from the deep south, and while not being straight punk, are definitely worth a listen.
Not much is known about Bellwood, Alabama's Ravers who put out this one single in 1979 and should not be confused with the many other groups who used the same name. There's no picture sleeve, and the songs are credited to Bryan & Bryan, presumably brothers. There is some evidence that these guys used some sci-fi sounding pseudonyms, which makes no sense as this record sounds nothing like Zolar X. It's pretty straight-forward poppy garage rock, unfortunately with added harmonica. But seeing how Alabama at that time otherwise had nothing better than the Birmingham-based Polyester Records scene (Jim Bob & The Leisure Suits, Colas, Invaders), you're not going to hear much better from the state than Going in Circles. Sorry about the surface noise, but I only know of 2 copies, and unfortunately I owned the beat-up one.
Mississippi on the other hand, clearly had Alabama beat when it came to punk rock. Ed Nasty And The Dopeds alone ensured that. But then there's the Rank Amateurs / Throbbing Members split single from 1980, straight from the punk hotbed of Laurel, MS. A few years back a punk dealer listed one on eBay with a sound clip, surprising the hell out of most collectors, few of whom had ever heard of it. There was talk in the auction description of it being on a future comp, which has clearly never seen the light of day. The Throbbing Members song is a nice bit of DIY garage-pop which might surface in a future edition of this column, but the winner here is Rank Amateurs track. Apparently both groups were studio projects, not real bands, so they never played out. I'm told the Rank Amateurs guy moved to NYC to shop his songs around and almost got a deal with Stiff-USA before the label folded. Too bad, as Kick the Stupidity is pretty good, especially if you like your punk more on the Gizmos side than the Sex Pistols.
Questions, comments, corrections? Send them my way: justin-at-CollectorScum.com.
These MP3s are intended for educational purposes and to allow people to hear songs from rare and/or hopelessly out of print records. If you're an artist or label behind one of these recordings and you want an MP3 taken down, please contact the editor at termibore-at-aoldotcom.
To read past installments of Too Much Junk go here.
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