VARIOUS ARTISTS: Keats Rides a Harley: CD

Jun 22, 2007

Contrary to what punk rock “history” books and films like Decline of Western Civilization would lead you to believe, Los Angeles’ punk scene was quite diverse, especially in the early ‘80s, with all sorts of weirdness tucked away and thriving in virtually every corner of the county. This is a reissue of a compilation released in 1981 by Happy Squid Records—the label run by art punkers the Urinals—that came and went rather quickly and has been something of a collectors item since. Completists will be thrilled to learn that, in addition to some great tracks by the Earwigs, Toxic Shock (pre-Slovenly), S. Squad, Tunneltones (pre-Savage Republic), Human Hands, and the always-brilliant 100 Flowers (a.k.a. the Urinals), one can also find here some early tracks by the Meat Puppets and the first recorded appearances by both the Gun Club and Leaving Trains. Those who appreciate punk from bands that aren’t averse to coloring outside the lines will be pleased as punch at the glorious array of noise collected here, from Earwig’s damaged funk to Toxic Shock and 100 Flowers’ punk minimalism to the Meat Puppets’ sun-damaged hardcore. Warning Label has also seen fit to include all but the NEEF track from the Happy Squid Sampler, meaning that you get five more tracks from the Urinals, Danny and the Doorknobs (pre-Trotsky Icepick), Arrow Book Club, Vidiots (featuring F-Word’s Rik L Rik on vocals) and Phil Bedel. Those, however, who have chosen to buy into the party line and think that L.A. punk began with the Germs and ended with Black Flag will be sorely disappointed.

 –jimmy (Warning Label)