D.O.A.: Win the Battle: CD

I really wish i wasn’t assigned this CD to review, as, for the last eight or ten years, i’ve avoided contact with any new D.O.A. product simply out of respect for my teenage memories of how great they used to be. I mean, shit, Something Better Change was a frickin’ beacon in the unholy miasma of crap, piss, retch and swill that passed for “underground” music in 1980 – it was LOUD and FAST and ANGRY and ROCKIN’ and GUTTURAL and MELODIC and STIRRING and PASSIONATE and about eighty-seven other fuckin’ capitalized adjectives in an era where true Punk Rock sightings were few and far between. Absolutely positively everyone should own that album (and, NO, Bloodied But Unbowed does not count), recent CD reissue quite acceptable (since it doesn’t skip during “Thirteen” like all the vinyl copies i’ve ever heard). Hardcore ’81 was a worthy followup in the Shorter/Faster/Dumber spirit of the moment, and the War on 45 8-song 12″ which closed out ’82 was a surprisingly successful blend of classic D.O.A. sounds with more traditional ROCK influences. After that, i have no fucking CLUE what happened. Let’s Wreck the Party – with the exception of their cover of “Singin’ in the Rain” and the song that immediately preceded it, “Race Riot” (since it sorta ran right into “Singin’ in the Rain” and you kind of couldn’t escape it) – was a total pile of limp-ass crap. On 1987’s True (North), Strong and Free, the band actually managed to come up with three great songs (out of ten total), but had to re-record a song off an early 45 (“Nazi Training Camp”) and a fucking Bachman-Turner Overdrive cover to do so. In 1990, the band called it quits, but not before leaving the world with Murder, one of the best albums of 1990 (admittedly due to lack of competition), half of which was really quite good. If i’m hired to write the screenplay for Get Out of My Life: The D.O.A. Story, it ends right there. Unfortunately, that is not the case: The band – to my everlasting horror! – reformed, and began to emit entirely new strains of ill-advised records. The first reunion record, 13 Flavours of Doom, was kind of okay, i guess; the next one, Loggerheads, was and is, with the exception of the two songs penned by the (tragically deceased) drummer, one of the absolutely positively WORST RECORDS i have ever heard in my LIFE (any genre). I stopped buying D.O.A. records after that; it was too much like watching a septuagenarian Tony Curtis bungle his way thru his lines in the stage musical version of Some Like It Hot – horrible, tragic, sad, and not the least bit compelling in its horrible tragic sadness. The really sad thing is that there haven’t been any wholesale changes to the basic D.O.A. sound in the last twenty years, really – it’s just that they used to be great, and now they suck utterly. My only theory is that when you’re startin’ out as a band, you’re just kind of flailing in the darkness, trying to make contact; you simply wanna give vent to the demons inside your head. At some point in time, your flailing will beget you an audience, and i suppose one might stop writing songs in hopes of being heard, and start writing songs with the presupposition that they are going to be heard at that time – and perhaps this is the crux of the Great Shittiness. Dunno. All i know is that not only does the band re-do two songs off of 1987’s True (North), Strong and Free – a record, mind you, where they were already so thin with songs that they hadda dip into songs they recorded in the late ’70s! – and “Dead Men Tell No Tales” which i think was on Murder – but they also cover the Subhumans’ “Fuck You” for like the third different time on record. I mean, ??? …as a workin’ joe myself, i don’t begrudge anybody the right to make a living (or, for that matter, even to play music); as a D.O.A. fan, however, i’ll go on record as saying the records they’ve put out in the last ten years are fucking god awful and i wish they’d stop releasing them. BEST SONG TITLE: “I Am Canadian” BEST SONG: I dunno, is this counting the stuff they already recorded fifteen years ago or no? FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The band’s slogan has long been the equation “TALK – ACTION = 0.” Recall from 8th grade algebra, if you will, that we can do anything to one side of any given equation so long as we perform the identical operation on the other side. Therefore, let us add the term “ACTION” to both sides. This gives us the following modified equation: “TALK – ACTION + ACTION = 0 + ACTION.” Since (- ACTION) and (+ ACTION) cancel each other out, the equation can now be written TALK = 0 + ACTION. Since (0 + x) = x, (0 + ACTION) = ACTION. Therefore, in its simplest form, “TALK – ACTION = 0” can be written TALK = ACTION. Sad, isn’t it?

 –norb (Sudden Death)