RHINO-39: Self-titled: 2 x CD

May 26, 2008

This has what must be everything Rhino-39 released from 1979 through 1986. To me, Rhino-39 is a “flyer punk” band. That means they’re one of those bands that I see on a lot of old flyers, but never really heard anything about them or any of their songs. The Alley Kats, China White, Suburban Lawns, and Castration Squad are some other names that fall into that category just off the top of my head. Having finally heard Rhino-39, I can’t say I feel like I missed out on too much. They’re not bad, but with these “before my time bands,” I feel like there are several categories. There are the bands that are just flat-out essential, which includes a lot of the usual suspects like Black Flag, The Weirdos, and The Dickies. Next, there are those bands and albums which I need to take a little time to get to know, but once I do I love them. For instance, it took me a couple of listens to “get it,” but I really like The Plugz Better Luck now. Then there’s the third category of bands which aren’t bad, but don’t feel particularly amazing or revelatory either. Basically, they’re a real “you had to be there” type thing to appreciate, and that’s how I feel about this collection. It’s decent enough pre-hardcore L.A. punk, but it never really gets me going like stuff from bands like The Urinals or The Germs or The Last does. Also, there are four different versions of the song “J. Alfred,” which is overkill for what is, at best, a forgettable song. This compilation of Rhino-39’s stuff feels like more of a mildly interesting curiosity for punk historians and completists, rather than some lost Holy Grail of Los Angeles punk. 

 –Adrian (Nickel and Dime)