Category: slash records

“The Decline of Western Civilization” 1980. Slash Records. Today, November 7th, is Alice Bag’s birthday (b. Alicia Armendariz, 1958) and the only recording we have of her and her band, The Bags/Alice Bag Band, is on this soundtrack from the film directed by Penelope Spheeris which documented the ‘79-’80 LA punk scene. Quite recently I read Alice Bag’s autobiography Violence Girl (from Feral House publishing) and it was a can’t-put-it-down read. She was an integral part of the LA music scene, starting off as a super-fan of David Bowie, Freddie Mercury and Elton John before starting her own band and hanging out with members of the Germs, The Weirdos, etc. She spends a short chapter describing her experience with the recording of the track (“Gluttony”) for Decline of Western Civilization: “The filming of the performance was an ordeal. It was supposed to be a live show, but because several bands were being filmed and there were five bands on the bill, it became a marathon. Fights broke out backstage as people tried to change the order of performance. In a small are overflowing with testosterone, I was the only woman and nobody was fucking with me…We were nearly out of steam even before we went on. The show had gone on far too long. The film crew was packing up equipment, members of the audience looked spent and it was hard to get excited about playing, but we went out and tried to revive the night. I knew it wasn’t our best show, but it wasn’t our worst, either.”

The soundtrack features several other prominent LA punk bands (all filmed at various locations and dates from December 1979 through May 1980). There’s a great version of “White Minority” by Black Flag, a messy version of “Manimal” by the Germs (are there any versions of any Germs live songs that aren’t messy?) and X play a really excellent set that includes “Beyond and Back,” “Johny Hit and Run Paulene” and “We’re Desperate.” Circle Jerks have four songs (the best “Back Against the Wall”) and Fear have three including “I Don’t Care About You,” “I Love Livin’ In the City” and “Fear Anthem.” There’s also a song by Catholic Discipline (“Underground Babylon”) but I never really heard much by them beyond this record and don’t care for that track. 

L7 “Best of the Slash Years” 2000/2019 reissue, limited edition on green vinyl. This comp of hard-rocking, grungy punk/alt-metal songs pulls tracks from L7′s three albums on Slash Records: Bricks are Heavy (’92, produced by Butch Vig), Hungry for Stink (’94) and The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum (’97). It starts out with one of the greatest riot grrrl anthems ever, “Pretend We’re Dead,” from Bricks are Heavy which went to #8 on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart in ‘92 and hit #21 on the UK singles chart. Also from Bricks are Heavy are “Mr. Integrity,” “Monster” and “Everglade.”  I love Hungry for Stink and pulled from that LP are “Andres” (#20 US Alternative Songs chart and #34 UK singles chart), one of my favorites “Fuel My Fire” as well as “Freak Magnet” and “Can I Run.” I’m not as familiar with The Beauty Process – I’m not sure we have it in our collection – but the tracks from that album are almost as brutal, a tad more melodic than L7′s earlier work and also a bit heavy on the drinking theme: “Bad Things,” “Off the Wagon,” “Moonshine” and “Bitter Wine” (OK, “Moonshine” isn’t actually about the contraband liquor but the titles’ trajectory does work nicely for a boozing narrative).

Germs “What We Do Is Secret” 1981/2018. Slash Records. I have the original from ‘81 but because I will literally buy anything Germs-related, I just picked up this Record Store Day Black Friday reissue on blue vinyl. As I wrote about a few years ago, What We Do Is Secret was my vinyl holy grail in the 80′s. Pre-internet ease, I would scour every record store I came across for this out-of-print EP until one day in ‘93 while visiting San Diego, there it was on the wall of Off the Record (cue the halo of light and chorus of angels). 

Slash Records released What We Do Is Secret soon after Darby Crash’s suicide in 1980. All the songs were available on other releases but the EP had a couple of different versions and live tracks. The version of “Round and Round” was recorded in ‘77 for What Records. The “Lexicon Devil” version on What We Do Is Secret is the slow version and my absolute favorite. That track, along with “Circle One” and “No God” were recorded in ‘78 for Slash Records and were produced by Geza X. “Caught in My Eye” comes from the GI sessions on Slash with Joan Jett producing. “The Other Newest One” and “My Tunnel” are live, recorded in late ‘80, just days before Crash’s death, at the Starwood in Hollywood and Crash is rude, obnoxious, a complete mess and completely awesome.