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Label Spotlight: Bomp! & Alive Records
Bomp! & Alive Records Sampler
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Bomp! / Alive Records
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I challenge you to find a dude cooler than Greg Shaw. In the early 70s he launched the finest music publication of all time, Who Put the Bomp (or just Bomp!), where he waxed lyrical about 60s garage, British beat, and later on, punk and powerpop. The magazine also featured writing by such esteemed pop culture writers as Lester Bangs, Ken Barnes, and Richard Meltzer. In the mid-70s, Shaw, who was now also the Flamin' Groovies manager, launched a label of the same name, which became instrumental to the rise of powerpop and punk with releases by Devo, Iggy Pop, Weirdos, Boyfriends, Zeros, and Stiv Bators. The label kept going strong throughout the 80s and 90s, when he launched the now legendary Pebbles-series of 60s garage punk compilations, and put out albums by Spacemen 3, Miracle Workers, Brian Jonestown Massacre and many, many more. Greg Shaw passed away much too soon in 2004 but the Bomp! spirit is kept very much alive by his wife Suzy, who runs the label to this day. Here's a chance to sample the catalog, and a few tracks from sister label Alive, from its early stages (Iggy, Zeros, Nikki & Corvettes) to the current roster, which includes Brimstone Howl and Radio Moscow.
We're also pleased to announce that, with the exception of a few recent releases, Bomp! and Alive Records full-lengths are available for download on Other Music Digital at the nice price of $5.99 for a limited time, so act fast!
Walking Out on Love: The Lost Sessions
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Last year Bomp! wowed us with their great One Way Ticket collection (reviewed further down) from essential L.A. power-poppers the Nerves, a short-lived band that had featured Peter Case, pre-Plimsouls, and Paul Collins, pre-Beat, which the label had originally released one lone four-song EP from in 1976. Now comes the Breakaways, a band with an even briefer existence which bridged the gap between the Nerves, and Case and Collins' later work.
The Breakaways never had an official release, but this 13-cut collection compiles excellent studio recordings, demos and acoustic rehearsals from the group, and any powerpop fanatic, and obviously fans of the Nerves, Plimsouls or Beat albums, will be thrilled with the discovery. There are several songs that overlap with some of the other projects, including a harmony-laden acoustic version of the Nerves' "One Way Ticket," and a great full-band studio take of "Working Too Hard," which was a Nerves staple as well as appearing on the first Beat album.
The group sputtered out before it got off the ground, morphing into the Beat as Case left to pursue his own "solo" career with the Plimsouls -- the Breakaways were a rare band blessed with too many talented singer/songwriters(!) -- but this recently unearthed trove is a wonderful glimpse at what might have been. These guys both continued their quests for the perfect pop confection with different bands, but not before Walking Out on Love.
Younger, Louder & Snottier
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One of truly classic American punk bands, Dead Boys, helmed by Stiv Bators and Cheetah Chrome, originally hailed from Ohio but moved to New York (per recommendation by Joey Ramone, supposedly) in 1976. They quickly made a name for themselves not so much for their music but for the outrageous live shows and self-destructive behavior, which is all fine and dandy, but one listen to Younger, Louder & Snottier (the original rough mixes of Dead Boys' debut album on Sire) proves that they had so much more to offer than bloodshed, violence and posturing. This is bona fide five star rock n roll. On these mixes, the guitars are pushed all the way to the front and Stiv's vocals sound totally in your face, like a punk version of the Stooges...check out the longer, superior version of "Ain't Nothin' to Do," the killer cover of Syndicate of Sound's 60s garage nugget "Little Girl," and the snot-nosed "What Love Is" in particular. Dead Boys' debut is up there with albums by the Ramones and the Heartbreakers as the best US punk records of all time, and here's your chance to check it out in its true, raw original form.
One Way Ticket
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This proper reissue from powerpop cult favorites the Nerves features the band's highly influential, self-titled EP from 1976, along with a slew of demos and unreleased live recordings. Formed in 1975, the short-lived trio of guitarist Jack Lee, bassist Peter Case (who would go on to form the Plimsouls) and drummer Paul Collins were purveyors of the Los Angeles pop scene, and their aforementioned EP would originally be distributed by Bomp! Records. The Nerves may have shared the stage with punk rock legends like the Ramones but their place in rock 'n' roll history was cemented when New York new wave giants Blondie covered their song "Hanging on the Telephone" on 1978's Parallel Lines. I don't think I need to tell you how that turned out! One Way Ticket features that track along with the rest of the four-song EP, but where it's really at for me is the live material. In fact, both the live and demo version of "Letter to G" have been set to repeat on my stereo for days now. The tinny drums are almost something you'd hear on a Joy Division, album although I'm sure neither band knew of each other at this point in time. Songs like "Stand Back and Take a Look" and "Come Back and Stay" are real powerpop classics -- simple and catchy, broken pop songs. So those of you who have caught the powerpop bug and who've picked up that recently reissued Urinals Negative Capability comp, as well as all of you Black Lips fans, I'm looking at you. This is E-S-S-E-N-T-I-A-L! You know what to do...
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For the past couple of years, Huntsville, Alabama's Thomas Function have been kicking around the U.S. garage punk scene and have put out a handful of fantastic singles and LPs. Much like their kindred spirits from the north, the Goodnight Loving, their ties to that scene are more about attitude and presentation than the actual nuts and bolts of their music, and like the Goodnight Loving, Thomas Function's amazing debut album from 2008 deserves to be heard by as many ears as possible.
Vocally, Joshua Macero may recall a young Tom Verlaine, but it would take a lot more than that to start breaking out any Television-isms as most songs are built around clean guitar lines (with occasional fuzz used to great effect) and full-bodied organ and a very sensible rhythm section. The record's pacing is fantastic with not a dud to be found. But I'll tell you that the high point of the album is in the middle with "Relentless Machines," a track that is so good it's scary. It really is the sort of song that most bands will never come close to matching, a total classic.