TWO ONE OFFS
The Rings - I Wanna Be Free
The Rings - Automobile (Chiswick Records, 1977)
The Subs - Gimme Your Heart
The Subs - Party Clothes (Stiff Records, 1978)
Punk stuff, etc.
Here's a record I've never seen posted in any blog, so I guess I have to do it. Back when I started digging for early punk sounds there was very little information at hand; I'd look for band names I'd seen mentioned in MaximumRocknRoll, which happened to be mostly Bay Area bands: Crime, Avengers, Mutants, etcetera. I couldn't believe my luck when I came across a Mutants record called "Boss Man", only to find out these Mutants were from England and played disappointing pub-rock. (Ironically, nowadays this record is regarded a KBD punk classic - on eBay...) I was luckier when, around 1985, Cas B. (brother of Antidote's singer Benno) of the Hoorn Dropstyle record store put a box in front of me and said: "This just came in; you can have the whole box at 25 cents each." I checked out its contents and came up with two Frisco punk gems: the first Nuns EP and the Sleepers 5-song EP. I declined his offer to buy the whole box (god knows what else was in there that I didn't know at the time!), and went home with just these two slabs. While the Nuns - which Americana-fanatic Cas B. would be tickled to hear contained a young Alejandro Escovedo - delivered one great song ("Decadent Jew", one of the wildest punk tracks ever to feature piano) and two so-so cuts, the Sleepers just floored me. Trashy, grungy and druggy in that typical San Francisco "beatnik punk" way, but with a dark power that goes deeper than the usual punque roque, at times even psychedelic-sounding (the middle eight of "Linda" sounds exactly like the Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit"!). The weird thing was: while I was crazy about them (even made my own "Sleepers" T-shirt) they seemed to be beyond obscure. The only info I could gather about them was that one or two members later formed Flipper. Even later, with the revival of old punk nuggets (like, for instance, "Decadent Jew") courtesy of the Killed By Death-bootleg series, the Sleepers' more er... sleepy sounds fell between the cracks, not punk enough for KBD, not arty enough for the Residents/Tuxedomoon crowd. It took a one man crusade by rock journo Jon Savage to wake some people up to the magic of the Sleepers; I even think there's been a CD reissue. This is from my own scratchy vinyl: