Tito Larriva and the Plugz

This new set starts with a track well out of my date range from the great band Steaming Coils, but I though starting with some carnival sounds would give some symmetry to the collection, pointing back to the Wild Kingdom track from the first group. We then move into The Plugz, one of the great first-generation punk bands of LA, from their mellower second album Better Luck. A Mexican-American band, the Plugz incorporated a variety of musical styles into their work, one of the rare LA bands that seemed to want to do that, Tito Larriva being an excellent and ambitious songwriter whose since moved on to score a few films.

Geza X is something of an LA legend, perhaps best known as a producer, though his early band The Deadbeats recorded some classic tracks (one included here), and he himself was a pretty compelling, if very strange, performer with his band The Mommymen. Rikk Agnew is another legend of sorts, being a member of Adolescents and recording with the first incarnation of Christian Death. These two tracks are taken from his first solo album, All By Myself, on which he played all the instruments. These might seem out of place in a “post-punk” collection being largely rock music — the second, slower track could have been a b-side from an early Kinks single — but in fact I think this LP is a bit uncategorizable and somehow bridges punk with something more melodic, even a bit grandiose.

The Gleaming Spires

Acts that appeared on the first collection include Suburban Lawns (one seemingly inspired by the percussion of Eno-era Talking Heads), Null and Void, Life After Death (where the Roland Butler really comes out), Trotsky Icepick (formerly known as Danny & The Doorman — sucks when you hit on a great name for your band just after the first album release), Abecedarians (including their Bernard Sumner-produced first single, released by Factory), the Fibonaccis, Atila (again, not sure if this is a great track or pointless), Human Hands, Green on Red (sounding more Lou Reed-ish than ever), Savage Republic, Gleaming Spires, Shadow Minstrel and Freshly Wrapped Candies. My choices from the Kommunity FK and Christian Death catalogues haven’t been terribly inventive, but so there.

The Outer Circle track here starts a bit slow but leads into a killer slide guitar solo and ends with 4-minutes of synthesizer bliss. The second track I’ve included is, I believe, in 5/8 time, which I’m only guessing based on the drummer’s countdown at the beginning. There’s also another BPeople track, and a sweet, sincere bit by Passionel, Alex Gibson’s project after BPeople folded. I’ve also included another unreleased track by Perfect Imperfect Circular, Bill Shifflett’s project after BPeople.

Geza X

So that leaves the newcomers, who include the Earwigs (I’ve only been able to locate 4 tracks by them, two of which are actual songs), Cipher (an instrumental that is pretty haunting, though most of their work involves Siouxsie-ish vocals), and Primal Danse, who only managed an EP with Enigma Records (and doesn’t even appear on Discogs). The track from Knife Lust appears on a collection of Devo covers created by radio station KROQ which appeared (I believe) even before or in the same year as the release of the Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!

IQ Zero managed to release a single (can’t find much else about this band) whereas the synth- and vocoder-drenched Android (full name: Android A 21st Century Band), most of whose tracks border on kitsch, managed a single and an LP. Boxboys were the first ska band in LA, and inspired a mini-movement here leading to the more prolific Untouchables.

Zoogz Rift

That leaves the track from the inimitable Zoogz Rift, mostly known for wild, often beautiful, often profane Beefheart-ish work. Fourwaycross are little late in the chronology, and most of their work seems to edge toward prog-rock, with a few tracks sounding like mid-career Pink Floyd.

I’ve also included a track from Bad Religion’s often maligned (even by the band itself), but often hotly-defended second LP, which introduced synthesizers into the equation. The track from The Screamers is from a series of demo sessions, and might best be heard in conjunction with the video. The Child Molesters were really an LAFMS-based conceptual band, a fake punk-band led by a bunch of guys who didn’t much like punk (hence the Nazi garb in the photo below). They’re kind of like a cross between the Fugs, witch their obscene humor, and The Homosexuals, at least in inspired offensiveness of their band name.

That leaves the folk singer Cindy Lee Berryhill with a track taken from on of the Radio Tokyo compilations, and which I think is weird enough (and not quite as retro as might first seem) to include in this collection. The Weirdos are usually associated with the first wave of punk acts though they mostly considered themselves an “art” band (their if-then-else project of industrial instrumentals would seem to bear that out). The Egyptian Lover is a DJ coming out of the electro-funk scene in LA and is often considered a forerunner of hip-hop.

Rikk Agnew

The set closes with an anachronistic cameo by Jobriath, the ill-starred solo artist whose first album was so over-hyped and glammed out (a little late in the day) that it completely bombed. He released another LP (which his label practically refused to promote) and eventually succumbed to AIDS in 1983. I kind of think of him as the forebear of vulnerable, histrionic acts like Antony and the Johnsons and (from a skewed angle) Kiki & Herb. Morrissey label Sanctuary released a best of, Lonely Planet Boy, in 2004.

The Child Molesters


Disk 1
1 Steaming Coils — Singing Notice (1991) 3:12
2 The Plugz — El Calvo Y La Cruz (1981) 2:57
3 Cipher — Harmonic 33 (1981) 3:07
4 Geza X And The Mommymen — The Paranoids Are Coming (1982) 3:11
5 Bad Religion — Chasing the Wild Goose (1983) 2:50
6 Null And Void — All The Old Humans (1980) 3:36
7 Life After Death — Isn’t It Time (1985) 2:57
8 Suburban Lawns — Baby (1983) 3:59
9 Rikk Agnew — 10 (1982) 2:58
10 Atila — De-pre-ssion (1985) 4:38
11 Trotsky Icepick — Mar Vista Bus Stop (1988) 3:03
12 Abecedarians — Smiling Monarchs (1985) 6:47
13 Android — Perpetual Motion (1982) 5:28
14 IQ Zero — Zero Gravity (1981) 3:09
15 Outer Circle — Broken Children (1982) 7:02
16 Primal Danse — Insomnia (1982) 5:00
17 Perfect Imperfect Circular — From The Ocean Above (1986) 4:09
18 The Plugz — Touch For Cash (1981) 2:40
19 Fibonaccis — Crickets (1987) 4:32
20 Knife Lust — Shrivel Up (1979) 3:10
21 The Screamers — 122 Hours of Fear (1978) 3:32
22 The Child Molesters — Brenda Spencer (1981) 1:44

Disk 2
23 Christian Death — Cervix Couch (1984) 3:10
24 Shadow Minstrels — Popular Song Of The Hour (1983) 4:23
25 Suburban Lawns — Not Allowed (1981) 2:20
26 Green on Red — A Tragedy (1981) 4:20
27 Kommunity FK — The Vision And The Voice (1985) 3:48
28 Human Hands — New Look (1982) 2:44
29 Boxboys — Separate Rooms (1980) 3:12
30 Savage Republic — Mobilization (1982) 3:21
31 Abecedarians — Soil (1986) 6:08
32 Gleaming Spires — How To Get Girls Thru Hypnotism (1982) 3:56
33 Outer Circle — Blind Venetians (1982) 1:39
34 Zoogz Rift — The Breather (1986) 4:22
35 BPeople — Give Up (1980) 2:02
36 Freshly Wrapped Candies — Fa Fa Fa (1987) 3:11
37 Deadbeats — Brainless (1979) 2:31
38 Fourwaycross — Apologize (1985) 4:18
39 Rikk Agnew — Everyday (1982) 4:30
40 Cindy Lee Berryhill — Headin’ For The Border Line (1987) 3:56
41 Earwigs – Freedom (1981) 2:47
41 The Weirdos — Helium Bar (1991) 3:22
42 Passionel — I Found You Crying (1984) 3:25
43 The Egyptian Lover — I Cry (Night After Night) (1984) 5:04
44 Jobriath — Heartbeat (1974) 2:45