On The Subject Of Koro

When it comes to anti-evangelist hardcore punk songs of the 1980s, “700 Club” by Koro would break my top five, possibly my top three. The 50 second blast opens the band’s 1983 self-titled E.P, winding up a playful chant of “No God!” into ruthless fury mocking Pat Robertson and his dedicated flock.

“Gonna pray for a Happy Meal
I won’t cheat, I won’t steal
Thank you, Pat! Thank you, Pat!”

“Amen, amen, we sing unto these hills
Suburban t.v. crazies strung out on diet pills
That’s you, Pat! That’s you, Pat!”

This E.P. sailed into my life years ago and proved satisfying enough that I never investigated anything else related to Koro (whose name is taken from an Asia-specific syndrome wherein people begin to believe their genitals will retract into their bodies and disappear). Boredom got to me last week and I began Googling. Turns out some mystery surrounds this Knoxville collective.

Word on these Internet streets is Koro sped up the tracks on Koro so they could appear to out-thrash their contemporaries. Individual band members have long dodged direct questions and the best evidence is heard on the interestingly titled Speed Kills, a demo collection released in ’06 by Sorry State Records. That album’s version of “700 Club” (a.k.a. “No God”) sure sounds a few paces behind what appears on the E.P.

Of course, the tune is still plenty fast in the back end. I wouldn’t be surprised we’re just hearing the difference between Koro recording something they’d only been playing for a few days verses Koro recording something they’d been playing for a few months. Or maybe they sped up the tape.

You never know. Plastic Bertrand insisted for decades he sang “Ça Plane Pour Moi”; then we found out he didn’t sing note one of it (or anything else on his first four albums). Anything is possible.

None of this prevents me from strongly recommending a purchase of (the appropriately speeded?) Speed Kills. The murky demo quality, the murky allegations—neither hinder Koro’s actual musical dynamics. Their material takes inventive turns and sounds to be fueled by authentic dissatisfaction.

Plus, who wouldn’t want a record that has the Sunsphere on the cover? Disinterest in the Sunsphere is suspect, always.

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