BLACK JAX: Self-titled: CD

Jan 19, 2010

Look, the fact that I was a member of a later version of this band is of no consequence because A) That version of the band was completely different from the version presented here and B) I was a fan long before I was a participant in any of their shenanigans. So there. All of you screaming "conflict of interest" can kiss my ass. Now, on with our story. I first saw the Black Jax in late '85/early '86 at a party in Montebello, if I'm not mistaken. I was a little, bald, hardcore shithead who thought that you had to play fast and hard to be considered a good punk band. They proved that particular belief of mine was ridiculous. The band was hard, up‑tempo and (gasp) melodic at the same time. The fact that Pogo was a fuckin' madman didn't hurt much either. We later got chased out of the party 'cause a drunk Vietnamese kid who was with us was claiming to be a "Suicidal" in a party filled with skinheads (Suicidals and skins didn't get along back then, mind you) and he ended up jumping into the swimming pool. I left that party humming the song I later learned was called "Fooled By a Pretty Face" and considered myself a fan from that day forward. Over the next year, I saw them many times and, each time, I stood awed at how utterly goddamned good they were. They could pull hooks out of thin air. They laid waste to almost any band dumb enough to play with them. They were, to sound like a high school geek, fucking awesome. Sadly, though, they never got their moment in the sun or the chance to put their amazing set on vinyl. This release, which consists of two demos, will hopefully rectify that injustice. The first nine songs were recorded in 1986 and later (coupled with a live show from Raji's that ain't on here on the other side of the tape) became the band's official demo. The sound is what is now referred to "77 punk" with a good dose of old So Cal punk for good measure, yet, 14 years later, they don't sound dated at all. The recording is excellent (which is amazing considering that it was recorded on a four‑track in a bedroom) and the tracks are tight and fat with instantly hummable hooks. Their finest moment, the song "Growing Pains," which begins with a quiet guitar intro and quickly kicks into overdrive, still gives me chills. The remaining three tracks are from an earlier demo that I've never heard (dammit, Gary, you were holding out on me!). The sound on these are a little rawer, but the songs shine through and transcend the primitive recording limitations. A note of gratitude goes out to Steve Stiph for finally giving this great, long‑gone band their due. Now those of us who have been listening to shitty, worn out cassette copies of the demo all these years can give them a decent Christian burial and rock out once again to one of the best punk bands East LA/San Gabriel ever produced.

 –jimmy (Wankin' Stiphs)