Agony Shorthand

Tuesday, April 08, 2003
RANT: MIFFED ABOUT THE CONTROLLERS CD....One late 70s LA punk band that never really got the full-on hype were THE CONTROLLERS, primarily due to the out of print nature of their records & the fact that they never put out an LP (and perhaps because, well, they pale significantly when compared to their world-class brethren THE BAGS, WEIRDOS, GERMS, FLESH EATERS etc.). Still, those three killer tracks on the "Tooth And Nail" compilation are really blazing, and I've always kind of liked "Slow Boy" and "Do The Uganda", 2 of the tracks from one of their 45s. Great clear-headed, non poseurish vocals from "Kid Spike" led the way -- somehow, via a distinct lack of theatrics, you got the sense that these guys were pretty serious about their punk rock careers and about music in general. So it was with some minor excitement that I recently bought the Controllers compilation CD put out by Dionysus/Bacchus Archives a couple years ago, though I already had most of the previously-released tracks. I counted six I'd never heard before, so I went for it.

Now let me say right off the bat that the guy that runs Dionysus, Bacchus Archives, Hell Yeah and I think another label or two is an exceptionally nice guy who never did me or anyone I know a bit of wrong. I applaud his continued enthusiasm for loud, guitar-based rock music, and hope he continues to champion his faves. But WHY do Dionysus releases constantly have gaping, glaring, maddening "issues"? In the early 90s us garage punk record-buying dorks used to say that if a good band came along they'd likely get snapped up by In The Red or Crypt records; if those fine labels passed on it then the band would go down the chain to competent labels like Sympathy or Estrus; and if even THEY wouldn't bite, then and only then would Dionysus get a chance to put it out. If Dionysus refused, wow, that's a pretty goddamn rotten band -- maybe Flipside might release it. So it continues with promising-looking, terrible-sounding Killed By Death-style 70s punk reissues "Shielded By Death" and "Guillotined At The Hangar", and the latest get-your-hopes-up CD called "Bosse Sound" of 70s/80s Swedish rarities. Oh, and this label also milked THE DILS and put out two entire CDs of their stuff, but couldn't find a way to get all three of their 45s on one release? Nope, you gotta buy both. That's just wrong, folks.

My beef with the CONTROLLERS CD is the fact that once you get beyond the eight previously-released tracks, the remaining six are not even from the original band -- some are not even by The Controllers! -- even when looking at the track listing on the back, you'd certainly be forgiven for thinking so. No, two are by "Skull Control", a BS reunion band from the 90s; three horrific novelty country-ish numbers are by a reformed 90s Controllers; and one, "Top Secret", is from KAOS, a (great) short-lived 1980 band featuring Johnny Stingray of the Controllers. I admit that I'm sounding like the kind of record-collecting jerk-off we all like to make fun of, and I know there are far more important things to get worked up about, but this is just ridiculous -- either put a description on the back sleeve detailing the fact that the extra tracks are NOT vintage Controllers, or call it something like "The Controllers and Their Lesser Friends" instead. Sorry, but recommended only for those amazing "Tooth and Nail" tracks. The real Controllers retrospective, with singles, 1978 demos and Masque live shows, still has yet to be released. Harumph!