by Justin CollectorScum

There's a propensity among record collectors to focus on the geographic area where one lives. We all know the Texas guy, there's that dentist in California, and what about the Rhode Islander who has a separate set of many boxes marked "New England". I could go on and on. Many people have wrongly assumed I'm from Ohio since I've been seriously chasing records from the Buckeye State since I started caring about old punk records a good decade and a half ago. But being born and raised in New Jersey, and back living here for the better part of a decade now, I also find other collectors offering me NJ discs assuming I specialize in them. I continually claim I'm not a New Jersey record fetishist, but a look at my record collection says otherwise. I can't think of a serious KBD-type collector who specializes in New Jersey, but despite the punchline my home state unjustly is, I wouldn't mind being The NJ Punk Record Guy. Here's just a few oddballs from the Garden State you may have missed.

Uncompables: (New Jersey's Got It edition, Vol. 1)

UnexpectedNew Jersey is one of a few states (Florida being another) where I'm more likely to take a chance on a mid-80s record, as it seems no one got the memo that punk was over. I can think of local records from as late as '87 that I really like (the Blisters "Fast Food" 45, if you must know). The Unexpected put out their 6-song 7" in 1984, and other than a review by Jeff Bale in Maximum Rock'n'Roll #14 ("Amateurish thrash and punk straight from a garage somewhere in the the "garden" state . These teens have spunk and a good, albeit dumb, sense of humor, but don't expect any musical miracles..."), no one seems to have noticed. Also it seems no one ordered the record based on that review, as it never turns up. They were from the Jersey Shore -- Toms River to be exact -- about 30 miles south of the Mutha shore-core scene, which was centered around Long Branch. Jeff Bale and Tim Yo's copies of the record have an almost-sleeve, which is really more of an insert. My own copy and the very few others I know of are all sleeveless. No need for me to comment on the musical quality of the record, as Jeff's review above really says it all, so here's the opening track, Big Fat Ugly Bitch.

L4We now go from the most punk record on this list to perhaps the most marginal one. I think I first found a copy of the L4 single (1981) in the basement of a former upstate New York record store owner. The A-side title "Video Games" pretty clearly marked it as one of dozens of bad, usually new wave, video game novelty records of the early 80s. But it had a simple stamped sleeve I liked and probably cost me all of three dollars. The title track lived up to my poor expectations, but the flip There Must be Something Wrong Inside Your Brain was just punky enough, with its cheesy fake-Brit vocals, to be filed away as a keeper. Some other collectors I played it for completely dismissed it as bad new wave (fair enough) but I played it for the New England collector mentioned above, who thought it was cool, and in an odd stroke of luck he scored one that weekend at the WFMU Record Fair for 25 cents, minus the stamped sleeve. There's no indication of where the record is from, but a "recorded at Fox Studio" credit on the label points to a studio in Rutherford, NJ where the Misfits did the "Earth A.D./Wolfs Blood" sessions in '83. I've since picked up a couple more copies locally (and it appears that only half or so came with the stamped sleeve), and the last one came from a long-time NJ record store owner who actually remembered the band and finally confirmed they were from the state.

RandazzaThe picture sleeve for the Randazza single (1980) credits a studio in West Milford, NJ, but I'm fairly certain the band was also from Toms River. At least half the group was previously in a Toms River based cover band named Prism which played dances in local high gymnasiums in the mid-1970s. Randazza -- named for lead singer Joe Randazza -- wasn't very original either. Jim Lahat, better known as modboy1, once sold one on eBay, enthusiastically comparing it to the Ramones, which couldn't be further from the truth. (I suspect he was burned so many times by dishonest ebay sellers in his punk record buying days that he now tries to outdo them.) The flip is an obvious Rolling Stones rip-off, which I think falls pretty flat. The A-side, City Girls, liberally borrows from the New York Dolls, and is a passable tribute to them.

Rusty SamarcoAnd saving the best for last, we have the Rusty Samarco 45, the rarity of which makes the Unexpected single look positively common. My best guess is that Rusty was a Led Zep-worshipping teenager from the sleepy town of Lake Hiawatha, NJ who dragged a bass-playing friend down to his parents' basement in 1979 and recorded this amazing slab of vinyl, sans picture sleeve. I'm guessing if there were any punks in Lake Hiawatha at that time -- highly unlikely -- Rusty would have first in line to beat them up, but there's no denying that there's something very punk about the A-side Climb the Sky. I mean who really needs drums anyway? To the best of my knowledge, the record has appeared on eBay twice to date, both times with sound files, so word is slowly getting out about the genius of Rusty Samarco. A google search turns up a late-90s news story about a troubled man in Florida who is almost certainly the same person, and would put Rusty at 15 years old at the time of the recording. Awesome. Special thanks to Mike Sniper (Toms River again!) who first made me aware of this record and after much nagging on my part, traded it to me along with the Unexpected 45.

Questions, comments, corrections? Send them my way: justin-at-CollectorScum.com.

Thanks to the numerous people who pointed out that the Erratic 45 featured in my last column was a side project of biker punk band Puke, Spit and Guts. Their "Eat Hot Lead" LP (1980) is also on the Important Records label, and has a song called "Sidewalk Hog", which is related to "Just A Babblin On (Sidewalk Hog Too)" on the Erratic record.

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.