Tuesday, October 8, 2019

White Flag feat. Kim Shattuck - singles and then some (1991-93?)

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 grabbing. 

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

3 comments:

Jim H. said...

Briefly met Kim once a million years ago when the Muffs passed thru Boston......didn't know she was part of White Flag....they did a GREAT version of Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights" on a new wave covers album sometime in the 90s i believe.......

sean said...

thank you

Freek said...

that White Flag cover is certainly great, it's on the cd where I got to know and love the Muffs, "Freedom Of Choice", which also has great covers by Redd Kross, Superchunk and Sonic Youth, that last one the reason I bought the cd. the 90's when you actually played various artists cd's to discover the bands you didn't know...