I really had fun with the two Trilobites offerings I've thrown your way previously, namely the live document Turn it Around and an even more enticing follow-up ep, I Can't Wait For Summer to End. These thoroughly unsung melodic punkers may have never made it onto my radar were it not for late '80s college radio, and I'm forever grateful for that. American TV isn't a proper album, but could pass for one. Instead it gathers four crucial and indelibly effective singles that play to every strength the Trilobites could muster. When I commented on them previously I no doubt raised comparisons to the Godfathers, which I really thought were warranted, especially on the heels of the ...Summer to End ep. American TV, on the other hand broadcasts transmissions from an earlier phase of the group when they were brandishing a more straightforward ethos, one that yielded swift and steady slammers like "Venus in Leather," "Amphetamine Dream," and "Jenny's Wake." Like Aussie brethren Hoodoo Gurus, the 'bites bore an uncanny sardonic edge, albeit with a beefier sonic wallop. They never made inroads in the States, and I just hope they made a dent on their own home turf, because in their prime these lads absolutely smoked.
01. Night of the Many Deaths
02. Venus in Leather
03. I Can See
04. Legacy of Morons
05. Dress in Black (live)
06. American TV
07. Jenny's Wake
08. Amphetamine Dream
09. Living by a Different Yardstick
10. Piece of Shit (live)
I was shocked and saddened as anyone last week to learn about the passing of Kim Shattuck, the embodiment of The Muffs, the band she fronted for roughly thirty years, not to mention her stint in The Pandoras. She kept her diagnosis of ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) a secret to the public at large for the past two years, even releasing a record with a new band, The Coolies just three months ago, and even had a hand in a recent Pandoras reunion ep. In short, most fans, including myself just didn't see this coming. Then again, I hardly kept tabs on her, even as big of a Muffs devotee as I was. I plan on doing a feature on the Muffs proper in a couple of weeks, and will postpone most of my eulogizing until then. The truth is though, I've had a non-stop loop of Shattuck's musical body of work in my head for the past half a week, including her work with White Flag.
I've posted on White Flag before, for the benefit of you who could use a crash course, here's a quick backgrounder I provided in tandem with the band's Thru the Trash Darkly compilation I shared several years back:
Formed in 1982 as a
parody, just as much as an afterthought of the Los Angeles punk scene
that had recently burned itself out, White Flag were to a certain extent
the punk equivalent of the Ruttles. And like the Ruttles, White Flag
were actually quite adept at what they did. Their early singles and
albums, like Third Strike and WFO play like quintessential
artifacts of their era, providing the perfect soundtrack for the
nascent So-Cali skateboard scene at the time. I don't think White Flag
were necessarily trying to appeal to "the kids," and from my
vantage point they didn't. It took more seasoned ears (and eyes) to
appreciate White Flag's parodied album sleeves, aliases such as Pat Fear and Jello B. Afro,
choice cover tunes, and of course the band's patented tongue-in-cheek
sensibilities, that were if not outright funny, at least attention
One thing I left out above, White Flag's frontman Bill Bartell was the band's only constant member. According to the bio that accompanied Thru the Trash... Shattuck didn't enter Flag's orbit until the late '80s, but realistically, it could be later than that as she didn't appear on any of their records until the "Don't Give It Away" 7" in 1991. White Flag carried on in some guise up until Bartell's 2013 death, but by and large, people stopped paying attention to the band after Kim pursued the Muffs full time in 1993 when they dropped their rather monumental debut for Warner Bros.
What I'm sharing below is a collection of WF songs Kim Shattuck appeared on, some of which feature her as the primary mouthpiece. I wouldn't say any of them represent the pinnacle of her career or even her abilities, and in fact, many are covers. By the time she entered the fray, WF diverged from hardcore punk considerably, and whether her inclusion in the lineup was part and parcel of the band's (slightly) more conventional shift is something of an unknown. "Don't Give it Away," one of the only songs co-written by Shattuck during her tenure is an up-tempo power pop number decked out with a jangly Rickenbacker enhanced lead. It's comparatively modest stacked up against anything in the Muff oeuvre, not to mention White Flag's blistering throwdowns. And then there's the covers including a straightforward reading of "White Rabbit" and some not-so-obvious Bangles tunes - "Call On Me" (actually written/recorded when the Bangles were still operating as The Bangs) and a brisk take of "In a Different Light." And while not front and center on the Kinks "I Need You" and Jam's incendiary "In the City." Kim's presence on backup vocals still lends a lot to the proceedings. Ditto for several other songs I didn't have time to critique, but you'll figure that out. Enjoy. BTW, most of these tracks weren't my own rips, so a profound thank you is in order to whomever went to all of the effort to prep this collection. 01. Don't Give it Away 02. Out in the Streets 03. White Rabbit 04. In the City 05. Call On Me 06. I Need You 07. In a Different Light 08. Grace Me 09. I Fell Fine 10. Over Now 1 & 2 - Sympathy for the Record Industry 7" (1992) 3 - Sympathy From the Record Industry 7" (1993) 4 - Thru the Trash Darkly LP (1993, Munster) 5 & 6 - 3rd Sun Mower ep (1993, Munster) 7 - White Flag & Dave Nazworthy 7" (1991, Sycophant) 8 - Ruff Stuff 7" comp, (Demolition, 1993) 9 & 10 - Thirteen Years of Losing Money comp (Gasatanka, 1994) https://www26.zippyshare.com/v/TzYgYb8H/file.html
Well, the internet didn't have much to tell me about Giddy'Up Einstein, and I have a hunch I won't be able to do much better, but here goes. The band consisted of just two full-time members, Mark Cult and Anthony Scott, and after gleaning all the credits on the back cover, it's safe to assume they called San Francisco home. Speaking of the album jacket (not to mention their cheeky moniker) this wasn't a duo that always took themselves too seriously - though they do seem to address concerns over firearms and violence on "This One's a Gun." E=MC2 + Guitar's finest moment is a no-brainer, the second cut in, "Wasteland," a savvy, extra melodious stab at power-pop that sounds like something Translator or the Red Rockers might have envisioned had they loosened their collars a tad. The record's less engaging moments are worth sticking around too, though "Eurotrash's" abundant 80s-isms grate on me. The final piece, "This Gun's For You" is a remix of "This One's a Gun."
01. This Gun's For You
05. This Gun's For You (Swamp mix)