La Vida Es Un Mus Radio on NTS2 (2022)

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La Vida Es Un Mus Radio on NTS2 (2022)

Stuart Schrader guest DJ set on La Vida Es Un Mus Radio on NTS2, June 3, 2022

The Queers “We’d Have a Riot Doing Heroin” (USA, 1982)
Ebba Grön “Ung & Sänkt” (Sweden, 1978)
The Thought Criminals “Fun” (Australia, 1978)
Longport Buzz “Fun” (UK, 1980)
Riot .303 “Drugs” (Canada, 1982)
Wallsockets “H&C” (New Zealand, 1980)
Chron Gen “LSD” (UK, 1982)
TDK “La Farmacia De Mi Barrio” (Spain, 1985)
Suspense “Heroin Child” (Netherlands, 1981)
Simpletones “I Like Drugs” (USA, 1979)
The Past “Teenage Terrorist on Dope” (Sweden, 1989)
Accident on the East Lancs “We Want It Legalised” (UK, 1978)
Serious Drinking “Country Girl Became Drugs and Sex Punk” (UK, 1984)
Anti-State Control “Glue Sniffing Blues” (UK, 1983)
The Transistors “Sniffing Glue” (UK, 1981)
!Action Pact! “Suicide Bag” (UK, 1982)
Amsterdamned “Dope” (Netherlands, 1982)
The Insults “Just a Doper” (UK, 1979, released 1999)
Fiends “Asian White” (USA, 1982)
Reagan Youth “Degenerated” (USA, 1985, released 1994)
The Injections “Hey Brother” (USA, 1980)
Trolebus “Cuando La Psicodelia Llegó Al D.F.” (Mexico, 1987)
Ruts “H-Eyes” (UK, 1979)
Bloodmobile “Drug-Related Death” (USA, 1983)
Gauze “ドラッグアディクト” (Japan, 1982)
Civil Dissident “The Legal Dose” (Australia, 1985)
Perverts “Drogbåg” (Sweden, 1980)
Rondos “We Don’t Need No Speed” (Netherlands, 1980)
Agent Orange “Dope” (Netherlands, 1983)

This radio show is dedicated to Michel Bastarache, without whom none of this would have been possible.

Thanks to Paco, Clint, Martin, and Yecatl, all experts on songs about drugs who never take drugs.

The only drug more addictive than heroin is the impossible-to-find self-released U.S. punk single, and the Queers, from the drug-strewn New Hampshire seacoast, put out two of them, both a bit late for the trend. Here is the glistening 60-second opening track off their first one—a copy of which recently sold for over three grand (with $1.99 pricetag still affixed)—“We’d Have a Riot Doing Heroin.” I’m not sure which they make sound better, dope or rioting: the essence of Live Free or Die.

Ebba Grön were the among the first true punk bands in Sweden, forming on the edge of Stockholm in 1978 and recording their first 45 while drunk at 9 o’clock in the morning, according to a drunk Swedish guy who spilled the tea and stole my beer. Both songs are on the “jag hatar kapitalism” tip, but the B-side, “Ung & Sänkt,” celebrates buying drugs with your pitiful proletarian paycheck—because you don’t have to pay taxes on them.

Sydney’s Thought Criminals will be forever a record collector’s nightmare: a band made up of record collectors, whose thought crime was to release a few records you’ll never even see in person before you just give up and get into drugs instead. More fun than that? More fun than the next time? (Not me talking about the times I’ve tried and failed to trade my Isuzu for this record.)

A bunch of skinny tie–wearing teenage mods from the town of Canterbury, Longport Buzz’s idea of fun was getting lagered up downtown, either at the grammar school on Longport Street, or across the road in the churchyard. The lads even recorded two versions of this powerpopper; believe it or not this is the punker of the two, where they reveal their dark and twisted fantasies: to grow up and have sex.

Oh, Calgary’s Riot .303 fantasized about getting to riot, but all they got to do was get high. But it’s hard to repress their snarling, energetic, up-tempo punk, just this side of hardcore. They wished they were Vancouver’s Subhumans, but instead of packing pipes with explosives, they packed them with scag. Recently reissued by punx who would be better off using the song as a how-to manual and selling me their records to fund the enterprise.

My god, what narcotized anarchy unfolded in Wellington in 1980? The Wallsockets recorded four of the purest punk songs of all time, each about drugs of one form or another, and these absolute beatific souls, to prove to the world what H+C might make a person do, stole the riff from Ron Asheton. And when I say they stole the riff, I mean they stole THE riff (itself probably stolen by Ron, but that’s a story for another time). From Ron’s hand to my ears, via a compilation called “****” pressed in 250 copies on Sausage Records, I’d rather get high and die than have lived an entire life without hearing this song.

Chron Gen were so popular that no one listens to them anymore. From their dayglo 1982 LP, “LSD” is a pretty much perfect genre exercise, perhaps proving how punk they were by defying punk expectations and heralding the virtues of getting wrecked on a hippie drug. (Don’t worry, mate, they also sing about speed and heroin.)

TDK (or Terrorismo, Destrucción y Kaos, three of my favorite things) hailed from a Madrid barrio where the only pharmacy was the one selling uppers and downers. So, naturally, they wrote a song about it, released on an LP in 1985 that is pretty good (the track also came out as a single). TDK had a number of subsequent releases, but the split 7" they released the prior year with Panaderia Bolleria Nuestra Señora Del Karmen is one of the greatest all-time in the two categories of underappreciated ‘80s hardcore punk records and records featuring a band named after a bakery.

To be honest, I’m not sure if “Heroin Child” is a lamentation or exultation, but either way if you’re into violence, drugs, children, or violent drug-addicted children, the Suspense boys (né Neo Punkz) have something for you. From Haarlem, their “Murder With The Axe” ep remains difficult to obtain without committing homicide. I’ll drop Walter’s address in the comments if you need a lead on someone who’s holding and still living.

Was there anyone in Los Angeles County in the late ‘70s who didn’t like drugs? On most days, “I Like Drugs” by Simpletones ranks as the best punk song about drugs. No frills, but you get more than what you pay for in snot. Eternal gratitude to Mr. B for introducing me to this one 20 years ago, on a CDR of classic KBD-style punk that had never appeared on a KBD comp.

The Past were, well, living in the past, maaan, when they released this punky track in 1989. Better known for their earlier lyrical genius—rhyming “Reagan Reagan what an ass” with “Reagan Reagan give him gas”—The Past managed to keep it poetic in “Teenage Terrorist on Dope” as they decried the way polite society treated youthful punk rockers as incorrigible druggies (by 1989, methinks they were no longer quite so youthful, but as another track on the record notes, these dudes were “born to be bad.”).

“Our cause is fighting your laws!” Legal eagles Accident on the East Lancs offered a modest proposal on their first single from 1979, self-released on Roach Records: legalize it! John Peel approved. Alas, Maggie wouldn’t budge. And Accident on the East Lancs went the way of so many shining stars of the class of ’79: onto the wantlist of guys named Dieter from places like Düsseldorf.

Ur-English Serious Drinking unspool so classic a tale that it must have originated with Shakespeare: girl from the country moves to the big city, cuts her hair, sleeps with members of big punk bands, and gets into drugs—and squatting. This is punk rock for grown-up theater kids, and I’m not sure how to process the feelings I have when I start toe-tapping. I guess I’ll drown them in glue.

Speaking of, we now enter the glue-sniffing portion of our journey together. Sadly, anyone and everyone who had encountered Anti-State Control’s nearly hardcore single back in the day completely forgot about its existence for around two decades. I wonder why. But a keen-nosed collector sniffed it out, and the blues descended, as sad boys like Dieter in Düsseldorf tried and failed to track down a copy.

The Transistors released two awesome singles, leather, bristles, studs, and acne galore. The first (from ’81), featuring this riffy ripper about Evostik, is guaranteed to get you high. (From ’85, their second has an interesting feature: the singer appears to be imitating what he imagines some baritone Swedish or Brazilian hardcore vocalists must have sounded like without having ever heard them.)

Although !Action Pact!’s “Suicide Bag,” is probably the best-known British punk song about huffing glue, it is actually anti-. Somehow George and the gang still make the suicide bag sound pretty appealing, so I had to include the track here.

I’m not sure what city Amsterdamned were from, but “Dope” appeared on the first “Als Je Haar Maar Goed Zit” compilation album, released in 1982. There were a few classic styles of punk emanating from the Netherlands at this time, and riff-laden, catchy, but tough punk, just-this-side of hardcore, was one specialty. Amsterdamned stood out for combining male and female vocals. This song is probably anti-drug, but I’ll pretend the lyrics aren’t in English and I don’t know what they are saying.

From near Monterey, California, The Insults rate among the most gonzo US punk bands of the late ‘70s. They released two very rare singles and left behind an unreleased LP-length recording, which Dr. Roger Mah put out on vinyl in 1999, two decades after it was recorded. This version of their hilarious “I’m Just a Doper” appeared on that unreleased LP. Two members of the band went on to play in Plain Jane & the Jokes, whose LP I found in a store while waiting for a table at a restaurant called The Loose Noodle.

One of the first old hardcore punk recordings I ever got into was the “New York Thrash” compilation, which was still widely available on cassette from ROIR in the early 1990s. At the time, I didn’t fully grasp what “Asian White” was about, but to this day, it remains one of my favorite songs. It seems fitting that the Fiends never really did much more than record a couple of incredible tracks in the early ‘80s and then disappear. Rumors abound regarding their whereabouts, but I think we all know what happened.

And the first 7" I remember buying, even before I owned a turntable, was the Reagan Youth live bootleg that includes this rough-sounding 1985 version of “Degenerated.” That bootleg had some questionable artistic choices—to the uninitiated, let’s say it made Reagan Youth seem a bit less anti-Klan than they were—but it also sent me down the pathway of seeking ever more obscure recordings. I appreciate Dave Insurgent’s honesty here: this song is about doing drugs in Queens. Unfortunately, only a year or two before that bootleg came out, he had succumbed to his own demons at age 28, after his girlfriend was murdered by a serial killer and his father accidentally killed his mother.

This is getting dark, so we might as well continue the downward spiral with San Diego’s most incredible abolitionist, drug-dealing, Baskin Robbins–robbing punk band, The Injections. The lyrics to “Hey Brother” also concern lives lost amid the wreckage of the Reagan Revolution, but the track is too good to ignore. In an alternate version of reality (the better one), the Injections would be the Germs and Darby would be a footnote.

The trolebus system of gantry-powered buses in Mexico City first opened in the 1950s, preceding the sprawling subway by more than a decade. It was a cheap, low-emission way for workers to cross the growing metropolis. Today, it remains a rare gringo-free zone in the city. Trolebus, the band, are similarly almost unknown to gringos (sorry muchachos for blowing up the spot). They play punk-tinged city rock, dense with sardonic references to the particularities of Chilango life. This song, about the arrival of the psychedelic scene in the city a decade earlier, has a magnificent but buried guitar sound, almost Chosen Few–like in its riffage.

The Ruts were among the first streetpunk bands: tough, austere, working-class, pathfinding to a subterranean form of anti-racist socialist realism, no matter what the punters preferred. Their singer, Malcolm Owen, also had a nasty heroin habit that would ultimately kill him in 1980. The heartbreaking song “H-Eyes” was prophecy.

I don’t know anything about Bloodmobile, except that they appeared on the infamous North Carolina compilation 7" “Why Are We Here?” in 1983 before disappearing without leaving any other tracks behind. What a perfect ‘80s US hardcore ripper!

Here’s Gauze: the longest-lived DIY hardcore punk band, which just released its sixth album last year. This track was the first one on their first release, a set of ten tunes on the “City Rocker” compilation in 1982. The title translates to something like “drug addict,” and it’s a 43-second Discharge-inspired rager.

Civil Dissident from Melbourne were among the best Australian hardcore punk bands (not a lot of competition, to be honest…sorry mates). “The Legal Dose” appeared on their 3-song EP in 1985, but inexplicably is not included with the rest of that session released by Prank Records a decade later on LP.

A shortlived Göteborg punk band, Perverts released two singles, featuring a couple luminaries of that city’s scene, Freddie Wadling and the impeccably named (for our purposes) Mats Drougge of Liket Lever. “Drogbåg” appeared on their second release. I’ll forever remain an addict of songs like this, a real sick pervert willing to do unspeakable things to obtain records like this.

The two most important hardcore punk bands of all time both said “we don’t need no speed” to play faster and harder than bands like The Clash: Bad Brains and Rondos. OK. Take a deep breath. I said what I said. (Discharge is a separate case.) Rotterdam’s Rondos released two versions of this track. This is the second, from their “Red Attack” LP. That drum solo is the sound of exiling all intellectuals to the countryside for forced labor and re-education.

The nihilistic Amsterdam yin to the Rondos’ Rotterdam Maoist yang, Agent Orange were, simply put, the best. If the guitar solo doesn’t make you want to snort some speed and kill the police, I feel sorry for you.