Agony Shorthand

Wednesday, July 23, 2003
LONG-HAIRED PUNK LANDMARK….Aside from way-underrated heroes TALES OF TERROR, the best “long-haired punk” (mistakenly assumed by many to be synonymous with “grunge”) record of all time has got to be GREEN RIVER’s fantastic (and fantastically rare) “Together We’ll Never / Ain’t Nothing To Do” 45. The first heyday for long-haired punk was around 1983-87, when metal chops started creeping into US hardcore punk. One substantially large branch of metal/punk acolytes went the easier and less interesting speed metal route, resulting in a million revved-up MOTORHEAD clones a la DRI, COROSION OF CONFORMITY, later-period SSD, etc. There was a much smaller group of punk rock/hardcore fans who tired of the genre’s limitations and decided to inject a bit of balls-out swagger into the mix, creating a glammified punk rock with heavy Aerosmith/Alice Cooper overtones, minus the radio-friendly hooks and lyrical clichés. The best fanzine to capture this motley group circa 1985-87 was New Jersey’s FLESH AND BONES, a totally hilarious mix of 70s pop culture (before it was “hip”), 80s hardcore scene in-jokes, weed references and tributes to heshers like RAGING SLAB, POISON IDEA, REDD KROSS (who were really more of a pop band) and DAS DAMEN.

But the king of all LHP kings were Seattle’s GREEN RIVER. They not only were clued-in enough to recognize Tales of Terror as worthy predecessors – by covering T.O.T.’s “Ozzy” on their great “Dry As A Bone” EP – but at their best, like on this 45, Green River were the loudest, most rollicking longhaired punks since The Stooges. “Together We’ll Never” barely has a chorus, and shifts tempos & structure at least 3 times, yet it pounds and swings like some downbeat Flesh Eaters/Stones/Stooges offspring. Despite the slower tempo, this is NOT metal – it is most assuredly punk rock on wheels. There was a vastly inferior version later released on their vastly inferior LP “Rehab Doll”, and thus I’ve been pining for a reissue of the 45 version ever since. Thankfully, their screaming B-side cover of the DEAD BOYS’ “Ain’t Nothing To Do” is available on the CD compilation of the aforementioned records, and it’s seriously one of the few covers that beats the pants off the original. Now the record, at last count, is going for upwards of $80-100; probably something to do w/ the bands these guys later morphed into (Mudhoney and Pearl Jam). So can anyone point me toward a digitized version of the original “Together We’ll Never”?