BERLIN BRATS: Believe It or Rot (1973-1976): CD

The Berlin Brats, for those not in the know, were a notorious L.A. glam/proto-punk band fronted by Mr. Rick Wilder, who went on to greater infamy as the frontman for equally decadence-drenched punkers the Mau-Maus. Ever watch the “Battle of the Bands” segment of the Cheech and Chong flick Up in Smoke? If so, you’ve seen the Berlin Brats. Here, in all their Stones/Dolls-soaked glory are thirteen tracks culled from demo sessions, live tapes, and vinyl releases, plus a couple of bonus tracks that sound like session outtakes. Some of the tunes, like “Tropically Hot,” “Psychotic,” and “House of Pleasure,” joined Rick in the transition to the Mau-Maus, but I’d venture to say the bulk of material here has probably never been officially released anywhere else, or at least not so in three decades. When you’re talking about tapes that are, best case scenario, at least thirty-four years old, you gotta expect a little rough sailing on occasion, but, for the most part, things here are quite clear, coherent, and worthy of loud stereo rockin’. More importantly, another linchpin in L.A.’s underground history gets some propers, though I gotta say this release is woefully skint on accompanying text/photos to give the average listener/purchaser some context and history on the band. Still, this clearly demonstrates that few did that sleazy rock sound better than these guys.

 –jimmy (Ratchet Blade)