Shit-Fi Mixtape #2
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Rudimentary basement bile from Holland’s The Ex, originally released on v/a “Utreg Punx” 7" in 1979, “Stupid Americans” is one of the most simple and effective songs that band recorded, following in the footsteps of Wire and Rondos; though these lyrics sum up a popular sentiment around the world today, it seems back in ‘79 anti-Americanism had its roots in tourism, not imperialism—a quote: “Stupid Americans are walking in the way / Stupid Americans see Holland in a day.” One of the many druggie-punk bands from San Diego, The Injections, mixed shit-fi punky reggae with more typical shit-fi punky punk, always accompanied by angry radical (and paranoid) lyrics; “Panther Anthem,” which veers toward hardcore, is about Eldridge Cleaver and the Black Panthers. This song was released on a tape distributed by BCT in the ‘80s and then on an LP reissue by Rave-Up a few years ago. “Pets” by Anorexia is stuck in my head nearly every day. Combining the lyrical silliness/inventiveness of UK DIY with class of ‘77 vocals and class of ‘79 guitar-playing, this is bliss. Fuzz-laden outsider/acid casualty one-man punk from Chicago, “Deathtrip” from the megarare first single by J.T.IV appeared on v/a “Staring Down the Barrel” LP, which I reviewed in 2005. Is that a drum machine? Very early Italian hardcore, Sottocultura appeared on vinyl only once, on one of the first international hardcore compilation records, v/a “Papi, Queens, Reichkanzlers, & Presidennti” 7", in 1982. The Italian hardcore aficionadoisie will recognize this tune, “Attack,” as one played later by Rappresaglia on v/a “Skins E Punks = TNT” 7" and also included on v/a “Killed by Hardcore #3” LP. The bands shared a member or two (for those counting, Rappresaglia is one my five favorite Italian hardcore bands). The only mid-tempo song by Anti-Cimex to make it to vinyl, “Heroindöd” was on v/a “Vägra för Helvete” LP on Rosa Honung Records (nb, a different song by the same name appeared earlier on their first EP). Even at this pace, and with Jonsson “singing,” Anti-Cimex were one of the most brutal bands ever. The demo version of “Suburbio Geral” by Cólera that appeared on Xcentric Noise Records and Tapes’ v/a “Beating the Meat” LP is a classic of rough-hewn early Brazilian hardcore punk. Sink your teeth into that guitar sound. Eye of a cat, skin of a duck, this short 1981 demo track by Olho Seco does not quite match the intensity of their vinyl releases, but the lazy d-beat, punchy rhythm, and killer guitar make me listen to “Olho de Gato” over and over again. From v/a “Nobody’s Perfect” 7", a remarkable compilation of obscure and atypical hardcore bands from around the world released on a Finnish label, comes Yugoslavia’s answer to RAPT, Opdaki Civilizacije, also the most brutal band on v/a “Hardcore Ljubljana” LP. Sekunda, appropriately meaning second-rate, is the second-drunkest and second-crappiest hardcore band of the early Finnish scene, surpassed only—on vinyl at least—by Kuolema. All 30 seconds of “Suomi Vapaaksi,” meaning “Liberate Finland,” appeared on v/a “Russia Bombs Finland” LP in 1982. Wrong Kind of Stoneage, from Australia, released this chaos-punky caveman ditty, “Run Amok,” in between two world-beat improv compositions, on an EP (with a very noisy pressing) in 1984. Japanese hardcore heroes Gauze rip off Discharge in 1982 with this live version of “Drug Addict” taken from v/a “Outsider” LP; a studio version of the song appeared on v/a “City Rocker” LP and was included on v/a “Killed by Hardcore #3” LP. Here’s an embryonic version of The Maggots snotpunk classic “(Let’s Get, Let’s Get) Tammy Wynette” from Haight Asbury 1979; this song was released recently on vinyl by Discourage Records. As a one-man band, The Good Missionaries (now sans Mark Perry of Sniffin’ Glue fanzine) released this social critique on the “Deranged in Hastings” single in 1980; recorded at Streetlevel Studios, “Attitudes” is just this side of a UK DIY classic, with its sharp guitar sound crossed with white-boy reggae riddims. A genuine UK DIY classic, the single by The Raincoats on Rough Trade was met with critical reception in this vein: “This is atrocious. The sound is terrible, the drums sound like Mars bars boxes, the guitars sound strangulated, the bass isn’t really there and the tune isn’t either. The Raincoats are to music what Wimpy Bars are to food.” Clearly, The Raincoats, as UK DIY’s interpretation of the Velvets, were doing something right. Another bonafide shit-fi classic, “Dead Flowers” (and the other three tunes on the first EP) by The Urinals is untouchable sheer genius. On a roll here: Tapeworm. Break My Face. The sound of the messiah shitting, as interpreted by high-schoolers from the richest town in America. Fuzzbox! After that, it’s only appropriate to play my sweetheart’s anthem: “I Won’t Pay for Punk Records” by Australia’s Thought Criminals, re-released by Ascension Records last year. To close, my favorite song released on the Scottish Groucho Marxist label, by Mod Cons. “Buildings of the ‘70s” is a stark, astute critique of Modernist urbanism—and you can dance to it. See Mike Clarke’s exhaustive article about the punk scene in Paisley, Scotland. A coda: Chelsea, the guitar genius behind Death Side, Poison, and Paintbox, recently died unexpectedly. None of his bands really qualifies as shit-fi, but they are among my favorites of all time. On “Lonely Blood” by Mino-5, from v/a “Enjoy Your Youth By This Hardcore Sampler,” Chelsea showed that he was a gifted drummer too. This 1988 track also features Katsuta from Tetsu-Arei on bass and United’s guitarist soloing wildly. Chelsea was an irreplaceable, singular character and will be missed deeply.