The amount of recordings that seem to be constantly rediscovered in the era just before the golden age of punk - around '74 to '78, should give any music fan hope. Things like this seem to be evidence for no matter what terrible era you find yourself in history will constantly surprise you with the great, groundbreaking sounds that were happening if you just took the time to look for them. If you can't find anything to blow your turntable lately, well its your own damn fault. This single from Destry Hampton & The Wolves From Hell was originally recorded in 1977 in San Francisco, the least likely place you'd expect to hear this kind of dark, blues almost Sabbath style metal. At least I bet that's how it might have been described if Punk magazine hadn't come up with a better name two years before. Obviously its influence was felt across the country and Destry was part of the Northern Californian punk sound alongside The Avengers and The Dils...just a year before The Dead Kennedys released their California Uber Alles single.
The one track to preview "Angel of Madness" from the A-Side finds Destry howling like the David Lee Roth soundboard from hell. A slight echo layered over this tortured, snotty, brat vocal. Tough and screechy rising high into almost falsetto and back to a leather growl, punishing every single word. The guitars have that unrehearsed stumbling quality, the attitude is right and they just slip in their power chord progression. A heavy dose of scratchy distortion with extra treble finding time for a manic solo. Recorded extra clear considering the kind of loose chaos they're delivering in just over a minute. This is right on the edge of punk, its impossible to know who would have been the mind blowing tipping point of speed, attitude and dirt, but this may very well have been the thing to send fledgling bands back to the drawing boards.
Released today from Superior Viaduct Records who says:
There is no sense in trying to outdo Angel of Madness, Destry Hampton’s bona fide cult classic. Caught up in the international punk zeitgeist, Hampton laid down his unesaison en enfer in late ’77 in the North Beach district of San Francisco with a pack of friends that included Danny Mihm from the Flamin’ Groovies.
Buzzsaw riffs and manic leads underpin Hampton’s feral, reverb-doused vocals (“I’m feeling mean / Screwed up tight / O I’m ready to kill”). Angel of Madness is one of the most elusive records of the era: manufactured through legendary oddball label Moxie Records, stamped on Hampton’s own Z-Bop imprint, and distributed through a couple local record stores. Eventually the remaining stock was stolen from storage... This first-time reissue comes from the original master tapes.