NIP DRIVERS: Oh Blessed Freak Show: LP

Given what a fossilized coot I am, and how much of a tuned-in cat I imagined myself to be back in the ‘80s, I find it hard—and just a tad embarrassing—to believe that I never really listened to the Nip Drivers before this. The only Nip Drivers song I remember hearing back in The Day was their cover of “Fox on the Run,” and I generally tended to confuse them with Australian band Mental As Anything (they had a song called “The Nips are Getting Bigger”) as often as not. Weird. Past transgressions notwithstanding, this release of their 1985 album has that certain unpredictable je ne sais quois that Southern California punk albums tended to have, for better or for worse, from the mid-‘80s on out, beginning with a three-minute Olivia Newton John cover, and filling out the remainder of side one with eight more songs, none longer than 1:25, averaging precisely sixty seconds a piece (yeah, I measured). Side two deposits six more sub-two-minute tracks for starters, and concludes with a four-minute-plus instrumental. Tossing out the two statistical outliers, the main body of work here sounds not unlike what White Flag might have sounded like had they never matured to the point of Wild Kingdom, crossed with some of the Vandals’ poppier chops circa 1990—heck, even throw in ‘90s ex-pats Gigantor and upstate ‘80s contemporaries like Fang into the mix and break into bite-size cubes and there ya go. Drive on, you crazy nips! BEST SONG: “E.Y.O.B.” BEST SONG TITLE: The same, once you realize it stands for “Eat Yourself Out, Baby.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: This band drew The Gargoyle from Incredible Hulk #1 on their master tape box! –Rev. Nørb (Slope, sloperecords.com)