HASKELS, THE: Self-titled: LP

Feb 06, 2020

Prime movers of the original Milwaukee scene, the Haskels recorded this album in late 1979 as the first lineup of the band was splintering; it sat, lost and unheard, for the last forty years. It’s not as rapid-fire as their 1980 EP—the idea of using tempo as a bludgeon was just starting to pick up steam at that point—but it’s still pretty damn spry: Punk rock back when punk rock wasn’t influenced (much) by punk rock. Haskels ’79 feature a binary songwriter/lead vocalist system: Bespectacled Presley Haskel wrote the normal rock’n’roll stuff about the standard concerns of youth—getting laid, rocking and rolling, getting laid—and came off like a punk rock Cub Koda. Future Oil Taster bassist Richard LaValliere wrote the self-consciously clever tunes, wore View-Master™ reels safety-pinned to his shirts, and came off like Johnny Rotten singing Jonathan Richman songs. One guy sings “Baby Let’s French,” then the other guy sings “Liberace Is Coming.” One guy sings “Stay Up All Nite,” the other guy sings “Psycho Hairdo.” On the one hand, this sort of prevented the band from speaking with any kind of unified voice; on the other hand, it also prevented the band from getting too mired down in any one member’s aesthetic idiosyncrasies. As opposed to many posthumous releases of this kind which all-too-often consist of a handful of studio tracks buttressed by demos, live tracks, and miscellaneous floor sweepings, this is a bona-fee-day album, recorded as such, and your prompt attention to this matter is urgently requested. BEST SONG: “Drop the Bomb.” BEST SONG TITLE: “Baby Let’s French.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Any album where the studio chatter includes the phrase “for sure Green Bay is cool” is a-okay with me. –Rev. Nørb (Splunge, splungecomm.com)