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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.

Too Much Misfits Business

Misfits news lying on a table of filth, Misfits news to which I’ve not yet replied.

Although an exact reason for his departure was not given when Dez Cadena left the current incarnation of the Misfits back in June, it turns out the guitarist is battling throat cancer. You may contribute to the “Help Dez Beat Cancer’s Ass” GoFundMe page here. Bassist and vocalist Jerry Only’s adult son Jerry Junior has been christened as Dez’s replacement; Jr.’s crazy if he doesn’t adopt the stage name Jerry Also (first suggested by Misfits Central message boarder “Mega Man”). In September the Misfits will embark on a U.S. tour wherein, at each stop, they will perform Static Age in its entirety. Why not? Gotta do something to commemorate the album’s 37th anniversary.

By the way, Dez Cadena played with the Misfits for fourteen years (2001-2015), approximately four times longer than his legendary stint in Black Flag. Does that mean he’ll go into the Punk Rock Hall of Fame with corpse paint? Can you even imagine a Punk Rock Hall of Fame? That’s what they should do with that abandoned Burger King on Governors Island in New York. Refurbish it as a shrine to everything Lou Reed wrought.

In July, Jerry Only told Metal Hammer he is in the midst of writing a book about his life. Now I don’t feel so bad about Jer never responding to any of my invitations to lend his voice to This Music Leaves Stains. Jerry’s book will include “a lot of the tragedies,” he says. You’re expecting me to make a Devil’s Rain joke here but I refuse to give you the satisfaction.

On the other side of the tomb: this Friday, Danzig (the band) will release single the first from their long-awaited covers EP Skeletons. Unfortunately, said single, a rousing rendition of the Devil’s Angels theme backed with a version of the Nightriders’ “Satan,” is confined to the European market via a limited edition vinyl run of 500 copies from AFM Records. If there’s a plan for digital release it remains secret for now. There is also no street date in place for the entirety of Skeletons, which shall find Danzig barreling through hits made famous by Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, and ZZ Top. Guys, we wanna buy your stuff. Why make it so challenging? Is that how Lucifer dictates it in the blood oath? I’d have your lawyer renegotiate that parchment.

Meanwhile, Danzig (the man) recently filmed a guest shot for the Peabody Award-winning comedy show “Portlandia.” Details are scarce, but somehow Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen convinced our Hellhound to unbutton his shirt and hit the beach. A vaguely iconic photo was produced, if only because it suggests Glenn has reached a new level of self-comfort.

Coincidentally, this pic popped up the same day “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” co-creator Dave Willis appeared on Tom Scharpling’s “The Best Show” to talk about the “Aqua Teen” series finale…and, at the behest of Scharpling, Danzig. Glenn voiced an animated version of himself on Willis’s cult cartoon in 2002 and famously caused a rigamarole before he could even step in the recording booth. Given final say on his two dimensional likeness, Danzig kept rejecting what the animators drew for not having the correct musculature.

“I’m way more cut than that,” was the Danzig money quote relayed from Willis to “Best Show” listeners. In order to circumvent any squabbling about the singer’s height (or lack thereof), “Aqua Teen” simply made him six feet tall from the start. Strategic move.

Now, on “Portlandia,” Danzig has no qualms about his physical definition (or lack thereof) and even told one news outlet he “had a blast.” Thirteen years can sure change a man. Who knows, maybe the people at “Portlandia” are just that much more charming and/or convincing.

And what of Joey Image? Over the Summer the percussionist who plays on the original storied “Horror Business” recorded a new version of that song—plus “Teenagers From Mars” and a couple originals—with Orlando-based punks Awesome & The Asskickers for their free release AAK. Download it here. Sounds like Joey can still rip it the hell up. Adrenalin O.D. drummer Dave Scott provides backup vox on the Misfits tracks (as well as drums on two A.O.D. revivals: “Nice Song” and “White Hassle”).

Speaking of the post-Static Age pre-Walk Among Us Misfits, Bobby Steele’s band the Undead continue to live up to their name: the group has scheduled an appearance at this year’s Chiller Theater convention in Parsippany, New Jersey. October 23-25 with a special performance on the 24th. For more info creep over to their website, TheUndead.com. Also appearing at Chiller 2015: Julie Newmar, Burt Ward, Adam West, and Antonio “Huggy Bear” Fargas!

Having authored a book about the Misfits you’d think I’d write about them here with more regularity. What stops me is concern over becoming trapped as “the Misfits guy” and also a perception that fiend-dom is shrinking as time goes on. Then I see viral stuff like the photo above, a Misfits t-shirt at Wal-Mart, coupled with endless “thumbs down” emojis from disillusioned ghouls of all stripes, and I realize the committed may actually be growing. So I rekindle my own flame. Once again, bonfire burnin’ bright.

Until the next batch of macabre happenings, consider this: the ex-Misfit Doyle is, as of last year, a vegan. No longer is the man who played on “Brain Eaters” a brain eater. Do they make soy brains? If so they must taste terrible.

La Punk Rock De Aliaj Landoj

Punk rock may have started in the U.K. and the U.S. but it certainly didn’t stay there. The genre flew around the globe like a contagion, touching off movements in nearly every market imaginable (Japan, Yugoslavia, South Africa, Chile—you name it). Currently I’m in the beginning stages of a book that will immerse you in these foreign scenes, one that will examine punk’s development in other socio-economic climates and describe the art of hard-charging performers from all over Earth who are just as crucial as your Ramones, your Sex Pistols, your Iggy Pop.

Yes, this volume has a working title. No, I will not tell you what it is. No, it is not the same as the title of this entry (which, fyi, is how you say “the punk rock of other lands” in the beautiful language of Esperanto).

I’m consumed with this project in a way I’ve not experienced since I began work on This Music Leaves Stains in 2010. So it’s good that other long term plans unraveled (aside from Star Wars Ruined My Life, which I’m still gonna drop like ewok dung come December). The devotion to the subject matter wasn’t there. The world didn’t need a book about InnerSpace anyway.

No publisher for this one yet but I’m on the hunt.

Belgium’s X-Pulsion perform “Castration/Schmucks” during an appearance on their region’s public broadcasting showcase “Follies”; watch it here.

Thank you all for even the slightest drips of support. I am forever in debt.

Brrr, Stick ‘Em: An Unsolicited Ranking Of Fat Boys Albums

1. Big & Beautiful (1986)

An endless party. Bubbly, crisp, refreshing—like that first sip of champagne. A melee of creativity. As if the cover of James Brown’s “Sex Machine” isn’t genius enough they also give us the tremendous Bond riff “Double O Fat Boys.” It’s a hip hop trailer for the greatest spy comedy never made. They rap in Russian accents! And you believe it!

2. Coming Back Hard Again (1988)

The re-imaginations of “The Twist” and “Louie, Louie” are astoundingly great. The song about Freddy Krueger featuring guest rapping by Freddy Krueger is astoundingly great. And yet, five albums in, did these guys need to lean so heavily on such established properties? Everything between the three tunes mentioned is cool without the nucleus of some massive cultural touchstone.

3. Crushin’ (1987)

Though it speaks to the staggering power of the Fat Boys in 1987 that they could get the Beach Boys to do backup vocals on their remake of “Wipeout” the end result is stilted and dated in a way the remainder of Crushin’ isn’t. Same with the AIDS PSA “Protect Yourself”; a noble gesture, but why is it paired with the insane testicle joke “My Nuts?”

4. Fat Boys (1984)

The debut is packed with fresh rhymes but too many songs break the five minute mark. No surprise a group that started out under the name (the) Disco 3 had trouble navigating away from that genre’s conventions. And there’s something unsettling about the cover art, where it appears the Boys are eating a pizza where smaller versions of themselves are the topping.

5. On And On (1989)

A concept album with no concept and the unnecessary application of Public Enemy style production that makes everything feel claustrophobic. Still, the Fat Boys charisma is there in huge gooey chunks. “School Days” is a classic banger that should have been a million times bigger.

6. The Fat Boys Are Back (1985)

Too loose and sloppy. In a couple songs it sounds like the drum machine fell off a table and they just went with it. Also, major points off for the exclusion of their tremendous entry from the Krush Groove soundtrack, “All You Can Eat.” Instead we get a reggae tribute to…reggae itself?

7. Mack Daddy (1991)

This has to be lowest simply because it’s the one Kool Rock and Buff did without Prince Markie Dee, who apparently took the group’s sense of humor with him when he left. Elements of New Jack Swing keep this exercise as lively as it can be (and there’s at least one Teddy Grahams reference).

Clarification

In the post immediately preceding this one, please understand the term “greatest rock song” means exactly what it says. Not greatest rock n’ roll song, not greatest heavy metal song…greatest rock song.

Pure hard-nosed rock. The stuff that simmers and lightly bruises, the stuff that sounds how a denim jacket feels. In case there was any confusion.

Your Gall Is Never Ending

Some days it feels like this is the greatest rock song ever committed to tape. Empowering, anthemic, unapologetic, and a guitar solo I think even Einstein himself would call “fuckin’ groovy.” Side note: Dee Snider doesn’t get enough credit vocally. When he wants to he can give Halford a run for his money.

Yeah, I said it. Meet me in the goddamn parking lot if you’ve got a problem. The parking lot by the hospital, so I can make it over there with less hassle after you mercilessly thrash me.

Good Ol’ Satchmo

Re-watched the Ken Burns doc on jazz last week. Interesting detail I had forgotten: for all his success and influence Louis Armstrong did not own a home or have a really fruitful romance until he was forty. That makes me feel better about being a single thirty-something with no property in his name. If Satchmo could wait then so can I. Good ol’ Satchmo. Truly the man.

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