The sideshow cavalcade of human oddities in punk rock has always featured an unsettling array of freaks of earnestness; some punks pickled in jars of their own self-righteous juices, others with rigid dogmas pounded into their heads like the nails hammered into the heads of sideshow blockheads and human pincushions. Take Ian MacKaye, for instance. MacKaye was not only very, very earnest, but he also seemed like a very somber chap. Like a very serious librarian or a Mennonite or Norman Mailer. But Poison Idea was every bit as earnest as Ian MacKaye. The main difference being that they did let a certain very dark nihilistic sense of humor shine through—the “Violence Is Funny” clips on their Mating Walruses DVD immediately spring to mind as a good example—but it never tempered their intensity or earnestness one iota. They were possessed of a rendering plant level of earnestness, which was fitting for a band that, if you were to put their carcasses through a giant meat grinder, would produce more pounds of ground beef than three normal bands. Not to mention that they would probably make a hamburger that you could get drunk off of. They were Rabelaisian giants and they were to hardcore what King Kong Bundy was to wrestling. Brutal, massive, stroke-inspiring. Looking at them, you’d think they’d be ponderous and elephantine like Crowbar, but they weren’t. With a Bobbitted Ibanez Iceman in his hands, Pig Champion’s ham hock arms moved as fast as Bruce Lee’s. Poison Idea combined heavy and fast like no other band dared. The Fatal Erection Years gives you a veritable feast of mid-’80s Poison Idea all on one CD, including Pick Your King, Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes, compilation tracks from the Drinking Is Great 7” and the Cleanse the Bacteria LP—PLUS previously unreleased live tracks from Portland in 1983. And if the release of this CD wasn’t in itself good news for modern man, word on the streets is that Southern Lord is going to be re-releasing several more Poison Idea classics on CD, including the long lost Ian MacKaye recordings. I just hope that these wonderful plans don’t go up in a cloud of bong smoke; I glanced over the Southern Lord website and they seem to be big purveyors of stoner metal and that does cause me some concern. Short-term memory lapse might be fairly commonplace at that particular office. The best laid plans sometimes just don’t happen, I’d wager. I also really, really hope that the brain trust at Southern Lord has the fog-free horse sense to re-release the Ian Mackaye recording using the original uncensored cover photo—which is a sort of Poison Idea’s hairy proctological valentine to the Messiah of Straightedge, Mr. Mackaye himself. Poison Idea were behemoth motherfuckers— to borrow an apt designation by Tad Doyle, himself a connoisseur of things large, loud, powerful, and dangerous. It’s doubtful we’ll ever see another band quite like them.
–Aphid Peewit (Southern Lord, southernlord.com)