Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Legionaire's Disease Band on Cheap Rewards Records
As with any great mythical early punk single, the story behind this is what makes it the insane document you have to hear to believe. Jerry Anomie gets out of prison and sees Iggy Pop play sometime in the late '70s and says 'fuck it, I can do that.' He sells all his furniture and starts the Legionaire's Disease Band playing shows naked at lesbian bars...anywhere that would have them. For a shot to open for the Dead Kennedys at Whiskey a Go-Go they were forced to press this single and after rumors Jerry died before the single even came out, they staged his funeral at a record store...all of this in Texas in the late seventies by the way. A crazy document repressed by Cheap Rewards Records to give people a chance to actually get their hands on this artifact and to even influence another generation of scumbags.
On A-Side's "Rather See You Dead (Than With Wool on Your Head)" I wasn't sure that was an expression while the punk feedback fade rushes in with a high hum. This is working with a range of scuzzy distortions, there's a low end 'chunk chunk' from the bass with a metallic clank of buzzing strings from the guitars here. Perfect drum mic-ing, getting the whole range of this kit from the thuds to that delicate high hat stuff, all separated without losing any of this raw scrappy feel. There's a cranky haphazard solo and Jerry on lead is laying into Baaaa aa aa! Baa aa aa! over and over with no pop filter on this mic. This is one take in the middle of the night when the studio was cheap but make no mistake his weird snarling rage is the thing that makes this record. He's belching out that sheep sound like some otherworldly vomit, peaking the mic all over the place. The sound of this thing warbles in and out subtly thanks to a recycled tape but that just makes this that much more raw and anchored in this time. A final restrained baaaaa aa aa and the grind to a halt. I'm guessing he wants this guy dead more than walking around with a hat? Definitely made that up and of course that just makes this better.
"Downtown" has more scuzzy guitar just blowing through huge chords and these drums...whoever set up the session new what they were doing and got these guys to sound pretty freaking great. Jerry had to have been influenced by the Sex Pistols but he can pull off that serious attitude, and snotty delivery. Like that friend who's always attracting trouble, no matter where you go or what you're talking about he's got some story about porno booths or the time he stayed with crust punks in Germany. If that guy isn't in a band he's going to start one. Jerry just started one out of a sheer force of will. There's a reason people still go bonkers over this stuff, maybe even more than jazz record nerds, because it remains a snapshot of a sea change in rock that we'll never get back.
But you can get this from Cheap Rewards Records.