VERBAL ABUSE: Just an American Band: CD

May 27, 2009

Someone needs to give Mike Beer a plaque, medal, or a gift certificate because he's not only re-issuing a string of some getting-harder-to-find, dead-on punk classics, they sound great and the packaging's right on. Lead by long-time wingnut, Nicki Sicki Verbal Abuse were near the top of bands (often directly under Dead Kennedys on bills) in '83-'84 that refined, then later defined, the term hardcore when people didn't completely separate it from punk. Making the exodus from Texas (like DRI and the Dicks later did) to San Francisco, and barely being able to live day-to-day, their desperation is only matched by their speed and intensity. The songs are wound so tightly, it's amazing that they're actually playing notes all the way through. The lyrics are simple – odes to beer, living in uncomfortable places with no money, and casual sex – but the band rings true, sounding exactly like they're coming from a hard life. There isn't a lot of fucking around on this re-issue. In addition to the thirteen album tracks, there are thirteen more live tracks (including a cover of Sabbath's "Paranoid" and some songs overlap from the studio versions.). The sound gives out here and there, but that's a small concession. The entire CD comes and goes, slash, trip, kick, stab. No complaints by me.

 –todd (Beer City)