Agony Shorthand

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Quite likely, this is the single best originally unreleased punk record of the 70s, a set of grotesquely, insanely over-the-top recordings that sat in a sad sack somewhere until the blink-and-you-missed-'em label Buster Bulb rescued them from oblivion in 1990. Greg Prevost and Andy Babiuk, who went on to form the mediocre Rochester-based 60s rehash band THE CHESTERFIELD KINGS, were two Iggy fiends who upped the dose on even Iggy's most wild-eyed, peanut-butter-smearing, razor-blade-wielding theatrics and created this howling vortex of blister and bile. First, they put out a legit 45 as the DISTORTED LEVELS in 1978, called "Hey Mister / Red Swirls". The former is a crazed glam-influenced pumper, with screams so beyond the pale that it actually ignites paper when played at "11". The B-side is a series of preposterous grunts and shrieks that makes no sense whatsoever, and is barely listenable. All in all, a nice debut. They switched the name to MEAN RED SPIDERS later that year, and took the sound even further on this 4-song set of recordings. It features "Rejected At The High School Dance", "I've Got VD", "Diabolical" and, my favorite, "Kick Your Ass Across The USA". Every track appears to be addressed to a female, and these jousters are comfortable bragging about punching, kicking and shamelessly defiling the female(s) in question. In the flip-the-bird world of 1978 punk rock, even that was one toke over the line. The guitar is James Williamson on extreme hyperdrive, and is mixed well past the point of bleeding. For a couple of Stooges fanatics, these guys really took that latter-day, "I Got A Right" template and did something fantastic with it. Wow. I can't believe this isn't in more folks' hands. These guys are selling it for $5.98. Don't pass it up -- this EP is worth every penny.