NORMALS, THE: Vacation to Nowhere: CD

Vacation to Nowhere is one of those enigmatic lost albums by an unknown band that makes punk rock so much fun. During their short career, The Normals officially released one seven-inch. Both of the songs on the single made the cut on volumes ten and seventeen of the legendary Killed by Death series. An album’s worth of material was recorded in 1979 before the great crash when record executives realized there was no money in punk and the term power pop was being delegated to describing Rick Springfield’s output. The album has languished, released many years later in a limited pressing. It has likely been passed around more than that, but Last Laugh Records has pressed a definitive document of the band that includes the two songs from the single, the album that never was, and a DVD of a live performance from 1980 that shows a fresh-faced band playing to a hometown crowd pumped with the knowledge that they were destined to go on rocking forever. You probably already know if this is something that would interest you, but I will elaborate by saying that this CD contains a solid block of high-energy power pop with catchy choruses. The vocals are delivered with a bit of Joey Ramone-itis. I would say I could live without the DVD, but its inclusion does not seem to affect the price of the package and the CD cover claims the footage was recovered at a garage sale. So I say thumbs up; I love a good story. This isn’t one of those albums being released because we are running out of old. This is way essential.  –Billups Allen (Last Laugh)