Agony Shorthand

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

There’s a live recording from the early 1990s making the rounds on this illegal file-sharing site (I’ve only read about the naughty site, I’d never actually use it to illegally download music!!) from SUPERCHARGER, perhaps the hottest raw, punk-infused “oldies” band of all time. It’s from about 1992 or 1993 at the Covered Wagon in San Francisco, and for all I remember of those years, I was there. I enthusiastically saw the band a good 6-7 times around this period, but it’s funny, I always rated their garage revisionist pals/peers THE MUMMIES higher and thus celebrated with the latter upward of a dozen+ times. History – at least my version of history – now says Supercharger were the better band, and this blazer of a live set confirms it. What came off as a bit inept and tentative at the time – a posture nurtured by the band themselves – is full-on wild and overamped energy here, with the usual coterie of screaming girls in the background cheering them on. (These same females were fixtures at Mummies and Phantom Surfers shows during the era, and a few later started The Trashwomen. The apple did not fall far from the tree). The set is way tighter than I remembered, and each 90-second knockout is complimented mere seconds later by another crashing intro. Oh, and a hippie in the audience gets disgraced in public – always a treat!

Guitarist/vocalist Darren Raffaelli is sorely missed by “the scene” – this guy was a terrific, sweat-soaked frontman, yelping and whooping his way through 50s ramalama oldies and originals that sounded just like 50s ramalama oldies. This live set even contains a version of BUNKER HILL’s masterpiece “The Girl Can’t Dance”, but the band charge through it so quickly you might’ve been lost in your pint while it was playing (at least that’s where I imagine I was). Raffaelli’s last move that I know about was a mid-90s 45 I never heard called “Donny Denim”, to say nothing of his shepherding of THE DONNAS’ first LP (something I’ll spout about in the weeks to come). Greg Lowery, at least, put his post-Supercharger energies toward a hot label and band, and Karen, the drummer? Saw her at Safeway a few years ago in the dairy section. Yet Supercharger needn’t be lost to history and illegal, immoral file-sharers – there’s a terrific under-the-radar compilation of their 45s that came out a year ago that I highly recommend called “Singles Party”, and if you haven’t heard “Supercharger Goes Way Out”, by all means get on the case!
(UPDATE: now this is embarrassing. This ill-gotten live set that I was so proud of procuring is actually an OFFICIAL release on Lowery's Rip Off label! Limited edition! Go to it).