Punk is alive and screaming in the
hardcore heartland of America.
BARNEY HOSKYNS kicks his way through
Angry Samoans, Circle Jerks and Millions
of Dead Cops on his quest for the ultimate
(First published in New Musical Express 23rd April, 1983)

HI KIDS. I thought maybe it was time to get back to a bit of basics. Stranded out here in cuckooland,
in the words of Kirn Fowley, I feel nonetheless that something is getting through. My one-man
crusade for loud, groaning punk rock is at last striking a sympathetic chord back in the real world.
In past weeks, Richard Grabel has told you of 'Get Away', the Flipper single,
Mat Snow has wigged out on
The Minutemen, Chris Bonn's splattered
himself over
The Angry Samoans, and Don Watson has seen the truth and
beauty of
Black Flag, Perhaps there isn't a time barrier between London and
Los Angeles after all.
Beyond endorsing the views of my colleagues, there's little to add. Even if
slightly overproduced, the
Flipper single is quite majestic, the best thing
they've ever done — as good, in fact, as 'Public Image' or 'Blank Generation'
and absolutely definitive of the scarred metropolis (San Francisco) from
whence it comes.
The Minutemen are a bouncing ball of fire, sort of Meat
- play - nonstop - James Brown - disco-party with politics and
paranoia thrown in at no extra charge.
By way of intro, though, I must take grave issue with the implication made by
Richard Grabel that the only "hardcore" American punk worth hearing is
and The Minutemen. This demonstrates either ignorance or excessively prim
"good" taste. (The sort that thinks the Dazz Band's' Let It Whip' can't be good
because it's on Tamla Motown and it got in the American Top Ten.) As American
writer Byron Coley recently put it,
Flipper is "a critic's band" whereas T.S.O.L.,
say, is "a kid's band".
T.S.O.L. make awful music, the distinction is important.
For instance, both
Black Flag's 'Damaged' and The Circle Jerks' 'Group Sex'
are better records than
Flipper's 'Generic Album', but because The Circle
are a "kid's band" rather frowned upon by critics, nobody in England has
heard them. My criterion for the records here is neither stylistic innovation nor
political attitude (although both of these may come into play), just musical excitement.

IF YOU feel any interest sparked at all, a sensible thing to do (I won't say a wise
place to start, that makes it sound like some sort of part-time course) is to buy
or procure a compilation like 'Let Them Eat Jellybeans' or the more recent 'Not
So Quiet On The Western Front' (Alternative Tentacles) compiled by the
fanzine Maximum Rock'n'Roll. Both squeeze approximately 200,000 bands
onto four sides of vinyl. 'Not So Quiet' features acts mainly from Northern
California, including
Flipper and the Kennedys but also: Social Unrest,
who last year made the superb 'Rat In A Maze' EP (Libertine),
Millions Of Dead
(or MDC), and a host of other, lesser-known bands based anywhere
from Fresno to Las Vegas. Much of it,
Capitol Punishment, 7 Seconds,
Deadly Reign, is of a familiar anti-imperialist/nuclear hue (a rush of noise
spewed out like industrial waste), quite a bit more is either bad
Black Flag or bad Dead Kennedys,
but 'Not So Quiet' is good for:
With Acid',
Los Olvidados, 'Pay Salvation',
Nazi Bitch And The Jews (NBJ), 'Dead
Porker' (like
Circle Jerks crossed with
X-Ray Spex), Dead Kennedys, 'A Child
And His Lawn Mower' (which makes you
realise how much hardcore is like speeded-
up/reinforced rockabilly),
The Wrecks,' Punk Is An Attitude'
(an all-girl group from Reno who list their
influences as Molly Hatchett and Aretha
Impatient Youth, 'Praise The
Lord And Pass The Ammunition' (
go Nashville Teens), Church Police,
'The Oven Is My Friend', and
Maniax, 'Off To
MDC's cut on 'Not So Quiet' is the second
track from their staggering first album, called simply 'Millions Of Dead Cops'
(R Radical), This is explosive riot music, chopped-up and scattered but with
magnificent playing and a really clean, hard production.
MDC is about as close
as you could come to a white
Bad Brains.
Part mastered by Geza X and re-mixed by East Bay Ray and Klaus of
, the sound rivals 'Damaged' as best-produced hardcore album yet.
And who can ignore a group which writes poetry?'
"Macho fuckin' slaves/ We'll
piss on your graves."  
Other delicacies on offer include 'Violent Rednecks',
'Greedy And Pathetic', 'My Family Is A Little  Wierd', and 'Corporate Deathburger'
. As
MDC put it, ''the police are the Klan and the Mafia, so you better take
your stand"
. The first side of this record is
possibly the most passionate, dynamic, violent,
and exhilarating punk music ever.

Equally good though less overtly intense are
Zero Boys, whose 'Vicious Circle'
(Nimrod) is simply a reckless and boisterous
album of punk rock'n'roll. Great lyrics and great
amateurish sound, especially the guitar, which
sounds like it's phazed through a couple of tin
cans. 'Living In The 8O's', 'Drug Free Youth',
'New Generation' this ain't
Blitz, this is youth.
'Down The Drain', 'Forced Entry', and 'Civilization's
Dying' are classics.
''Don't wanna hear no more 'bout Mick Jagger's
old bones"
, when Indianapolis '83 catches up with Covent Garden '76,
the result is one of the best teen punk albums since 'Group Sex'...pure
Hence to Austin's
Big Boys and their own 'Fun,Fun,Fun', a 12" EP on
Moment. Looser and p-funkier than most hardcore, 'Nervous' is a fine
song, while 'Prison' is like a beefier
Minutemen with hoarse heavy metal
vocals. Produced, like
the M'men, by SST house producer Spot, the
Martin Hannett of American punk.
Big Boys add a horn section and a
trombipulative version of Kool And The Gang's 'Hollywood Swinging'. All
good for a barf.
The noble
Sic Fucks also stage a p-funktion at this junktion with their
gross and idiotic '(Take Me To) The Bridge' (Sozyamuda) {which I don't
think is the Vera classic of '81, but who can be sure?) Produced with a
sagging bottom-heavy thump by ex-
Dictator Andy Shernoff, The Bridge'
is appropriately dedicated to the memories of John Belushi and Lester
Bangs, appropriate since only they could have danced to it. The reverse
side features the usual kind of
Fucks assortment: 'Insects Rule My World',
'Spanish Bar Mitzvah', an inadvertent
Dictators tribute in 'Rock Or Die',
and 'Chop Up Your Mother'.
The Tubes meet The B-52's...and other
Further examples of p-funk infiltration are the
groovy pumping beats of
MDC's 'John Wayne Was
A Nazi' and
Husker Du's 'Gravity'. Husker Du's
'Everything Falls Apart' (Reflex) is yet another Spot
production, This mighty Minnesota unit made a
great EP last year called' In A Free Land', and are
one of these power-drill trios who sound like ten
guitars. 'Everything Falls Apart' hangs together on
this formidable power, and is unbelieveably fast
and frenzied. Not as rhythmically protean as
nor as ingenuously volatile as the
Zero Boys, but
pretty intoxicating all the same.

ONE OF the supreme masterpieces of the LA
school of trash is 'Born Innocent' by
Redd Kross
(Smoke Seven). It came out last summer but I
mention it anyway. Inspired by a TV movie in
which Linda Blair is raped by/with a broom
handle, 'Born Innocent' features 12 immaculate
aural abortions with names like 'Linda Blair',
'Solid Gold', 'White Trash', 'Burnout', 'Kill
Someone You Hate', and 'Cellulite City'. An
accompanying leaflet states that
"14-year old
bassist Steve McDonald hopes that someday
he will be compared to the likes of Danny
while "buxotic" rhythm guitarist Tracy
Lea is
"the hottest and of course the foxiest
guitarist since the Carrie Nations".
Innocent' is like fusing the Partridge Family with
the Heartbreakers of 'Live At Max s': vocals like Thunders at his
most completely gone plus wah-wah guitar circa the first
Stooges album and generally abysmal playing make this
one of the absolute must-buys of teenage wasteland party-pop” but only
"for those of you who venture beyond
the valley of the dolls."
For the same sort of reason you would enjoy The Descendants,
'Milo Goes To College' (New Alliance), which I haven't yet heard
but which, having seen them, I know will be a fairly deranged
even unnerving collection of primal teen screams, a sort of Mark
E. Smith version of
The Ramones from the depths of Orange
The Descendents' anthem is 'I'm Not A Punk'. Sadly, singer
Milo, a terrifyingly square-looking wally with a moustache and
one of the very greatest stage performers I have ever seen, really
is going to college.
The stuff which wears me out too fast is like
The Fartz, 'World
Full Of Hate' (Alternative Tentacles) ” you know, one-minute
blitzes raving humourlessly, manically, unintelligibly on about
war, coffins, napalm, cemetries, Reagan, war, bodies, death,
crosses, disease, war...everything crammed together so fast,
so furiously it all melts down into nothing. In the end, compared
MDC, this amphetamine apocalypse just isn't very thrilling.
But the real dross is stuff like
Social Distortion, '1945' (13th
Floor), an LA mascara-apocalypse outfit with high ambition and
minimal talent, or
T.S.O.L. (True Sounds Of Liberty), the
Duran Duran of hardcore. 'Beneath The Shadows' (Alternative
Tentacles) is one of the all-time turkeys of progressive new-wave
art-rock: it sounds like The
Dead Kennedys trying to be Jethro
"I walk down the lonely streets, as the teardrops walk
down my face..."
I dunno about you, but I don't think anyone
who can write a line like that should have a recording contract.

Legal Weapon is as turgid but in a more
casual way. Their 'Your Weapon'
(Arsenal) is cheap, sleazy club rock with a
squeaky girl singer. Read hardcore
Blondie, or Beki Bondage sings The


(Illustration - Graham Humphries)
(New Musical Express 23rd April, 1983 -
reprinted from the Don't Care punk archives
with additional images added.)

Angy Samoans
Black Flag
Circle Jerks
Alternative Tentacles
Zero Boys
Big Boys
Husker Du
Red Cross
The Descendants
Social Distortion
NME 23rd April 1983 - (DC Collection)
Flipper 'Get Away' 45 (1982)
Angry Samoans 'Back From Samoa' LP 1982
Black Flag 'Damaged' LP (December 1981)
Circle Jerks live in 1983
Various 'Not So Quiet On The Western Front' LP (1982)
Various 'Let Them Eat Jellybeans' LP (1981)
Social Unrest 'Rat In A Maze EP (1982)
NBJ's Anele live on stage at the Belmonst Ballroom 1981
Early shot of MDC with their backs against the wall
Zero Boys 'Vicious Circle' LP (1982)
Big Boys 'Fun, Fun, Fun' 12
Snooky of the Sic Fucks wields her cleaver!
Husker Du 'Everything Falls Apart' LP (January 1983)
Milo of the Descendents live in 1983
Fartz 'World Full Of Hate' 45 (1982)
Social Distortion '1945' limited release 45 (1982)
Legal Weapon live (courtesy of Geoff Cordner)
Red Cross 'Born Innocent' LP (1982)
Minutemen early 80's