Agony Shorthand

Thursday, February 13, 2003
I AM THE SON OF VOM!!.....Most reports from the olde days on the Los Angeles joke-punk band VOM, fronted by none other than longtime music scribe Richard Meltzer (he invented rock criticism, you know -- as he'd be the first to tell you), usually contain the words "ghastly" or "terrible". But listening to the recent illegitimate CD-R "VOM-- Live at the Mabuhay 4/24/78" begs for a different view. This was a pretty hot band, in a Ramones/Dickies semi-cartoony way, with some fast, slashing guitar not unlike the Dangerhouse bands -- not sloppy! -- and a non-joke attitude in the majority of the live set. (Remember that this is the band best known for "I'm In Love With Your Mom" and "Electrocute Your Cock"). Given that the show takes place in San Francisco, there's a little always-welcome between-song banter about earth shoes and hippies and such. There's even about the 47th unique 1977-78 punk song called "Son of Sam" -- really! I'm not sure what Meltzer was doing with himself onstage when Gregg Turner or Mike Saunders (later of the Angry Samoans) were doing the singing, but it likely involved insulting/assaulting the audience in some way. Evidence is gathering that VOM have a few fans in high places. Now it can be declared officially that this may, in fact, be justified.

UPDATE: Actually, here's a good passage from an interview with Gregg Turner on Mark Prindle's web site.

"Was Vom intended as a real punk group or as a rock critics' joke band?"

GREGG TURNER: "For real, as real. Richard and I were watching the Weirdos play at some downtown ballroom in LA. And after a certain point, he got caught up in pogo dancing and kept screaming out: "See, I can do it too!!" I'm paraphrasing -- but that was the incipience of Vom. It was just a matter of the requisite number of planning meetings and then obligatory rehearsals. See, we thought the WHOLE POINT of "New Wave" (it wasn't until a year or so later that "punk rock" became the label) was salient stupidity. Moron music but with a vantage point and an axe to grind. I think that when we performed tunes like "Electrocute Your Cock" and "I'm In Love With Your Mom" -- these came off so blatantly idiotic that the serious sensibilities of the Brendon Mullen's and X 's and alla the others that went to poetry school felt that peer inclusion (ie of VOM) would be dissing their art. We weren't a comedy band per se, just following in the Jimmy Osterberg tradition of who can be the bigger nitwit."