Dead Boys: Return of the Living Dead Boys: DVD

Aug 31, 2008

Despite the suited gurgle-heads at Sire Records’ best attempts to neuter and then repackage the Dead Boys as a tie-wearing, “new wave” product in ’78, they ultimately failed to remove all the snot that seemed to hold the band together like a rat-king of gormless juvenile delinquents. To get rid of that amount of snot would have required one of those rubber snot-removal bulbs the size of a barn silo. The unscrupulous record execs had obviously figured that by hiring an aging hippy—ex-Mountain bassist Felix Pappalardi—to produce the group’s second album, Sire would force the band to accept the fact that they had been sonically reduced to a life as a gelded new wave pop unit. Or, maybe even better than that, the company would succeed at killing off the difficult-to-manage slimeballs all together. But, like the best laid plans of so many decision-makers who cut off the blood flow to their own heads by wearing a ridiculous fashion accessory called a “tie,” the attempt didn’t quite work.


We Have Come for Your Children may have turned out a bit stunted and runtish, but it’s nevertheless packed with great songs, songs that feel like they’re straining to burst out from underneath the cream corn production of Pappalardi. The Dead Boys did, of course, break up not too long after that, so I suppose maybe the corporate pukes at Sire ultimately got their way. But the songs from the sabotaged project managed to live on—though only through the release of shoddy recordings of live shows and bootlegs that popped up over the years. Which has always made me wish that somehow a “louder, snottier” version of We Have Come… would somehow surface, similar to the way the rough mixes of the first album were released by Bomp in ’97.


But here it is, 2008, and it still hasn’t happened. Maybe the tapes of those un-Pappalardied mixes were in Stiv’s possession and were crushed along with the singer beneath the wheels of that runaway diaper truck in Paris back in ’90. Whatever the case, it seems like if it hasn’t happened by now, it never will. But in some weird way, this DVD might be as close as we get to hearing those songs properly unmuzzled and let off their leashes. This video of a reunion show on Halloween 1986 has most the classic stuff you expect from Young, Loud & Snotty, but unlike the other Dead Boys DVD, Live at CBCG 1977, it has a good helping of those poorly treated songs from the second album as well. So even though I wince a bit at seeing Stiv strutting about the stage in a shiny black glam metal outfit that must’ve been on loan from one of the chucklefucks from Poison (this was, after all, during his Lords Of The New Church stint,) it’s still damn good to hear and see the band tear through songs like “Calling on You,” “Son of Sam,” and “3rd Generation Nation.” This show probably isn’t one of their all time best and it doesn’t have quite the same ‘77-era electricity as the earlier CBGB’s show, but I’m not about to complain. Yeah, that strangely palpable sense of sociopathic menace may have abated a bit by the mid-‘80s, but this is still classic shit. The Dead Boys were a great band and they vanished way too quickly. Maybe they were too damn real to survive. They may have been buddies with the Ramones, but, to me, they always had a lot more in common with the Sex Pistols. Both bands, at their peak, could scare the ass apples out of people. Something the beloved Ramones and the whole artsy New York proto-punk scene could never do, even if they dared try.


So buy the DVD and check it out for yourself. Maybe it’ll put a little scratch in Cheetah Chrome’s stinky leather pocket, and he deserves it. That way, maybe, he’ll be able to afford enough Guinea Pig Chow so that he won’t have to chuck the little suckers out into traffic anymore. –Aphid Peewit (MVD Visual, PO Box 280, Oaks, PA, 19456)