BENEDICT ARNOLD AND THE TRAITORS: Kill the Hostages: 7”

This little gem caused quite a stir back when it originally came out in 1980. Why, you ask? Well, at the time, a number of students took over the American embassy in Iran and held fifty-two people hostage for 444 days. It was a really big deal, not unlike September 11, 2001 would be today, and some would argue that then-President Carter’s handling of the crisis lost him the 1980 election to Ronald “Punk Rockers Love Me” Reagan. That said, a song proclaiming that we “Kill the Hostages” would be like a band singing “Fuck the World Trade Center” today. To understand why a band would say such a thing, one would need look back at much of what punk was founded on philosophically. Like the Yippie Party of the 1960s (an organization that counted both über-prankster Abbie Hoffman and Stephen Stink, lead singer of the band currently under discussion), one of the basic tenets of punk was to challenge, upset and/ or destroy the status quo on every level, be it through silly haircuts and funny clothes (mohawks, safety pins, and bondage gear), promoting unpopular political thought (e.g. Sidney’s swastika shirt, the Clash’s embracing the Sandinistas, Crass and their circle-As), obnoxious names and songs (the Childmolesters’ wanting to see some “Wholesale Murder,” The Rotters’ charming “Sit on My Face Stevie Nix”) et al. Taking that in mind, a song like this was inevitable given punk’s gadfly stance, but it was Benedict Arnold And The Traitors’ genius that the song was so fuckin’ good that nearly thirty years later, when its original intent has been muted by an American public too uninterested in its own history to even be bothered to look up what they were singing about, the song is still a nice bit of catchy obnoxiousness. Thanks to the Artifix’s generosity, you no longer have to shell out beaucoup bucks for a copy of one of the five hundred singles originally pressed way back when to enjoy it and the flip, “Red Alert,” which isn’t as lyrically incendiary, but no less catchy. Rumor is that the band is together again and making a racket. Hopefully they’re as hell-bent of offending and upsetting the social order as they were in days of yore, ’cause lord knows it could use it.

 –jimmy (Artifix)