Surf Punks Get Reissued!
So, for the first time in its long history of licensing and releasing reissues, Collectors’ Choice launched a new label, which they’ve assigned the curious name of Noble Rot. Wine lovers will recognize the term as the one used to describe the bacteria that cause grapes to rot, thereby upping their sugar content. The folks at Collectors’ Choice liked it because, one, good recordings really do improve with age, and two, because “rot “ is as punk as a word gets. (And “bacteria” is pretty punk, too!)
According to Collectors’ Choice Music general manager Gordon Anderson, “There are a ton of albums from the ‘80s and ‘90s that deserve to be in print but are not, and a lot of them you can’t find digitally, either. We started Noble Rot to rescue those records from undeserved oblivion, and, just like with our Collectors’ Choice Music label, we’re open to suggestions from our constituency, namely music lovers, and, yes, even from music journalists!”
And now Noble Rot prepares to issue its next four releases, all packaged in Digipaks:
The Cicadas — (si ka’ das) During a six-year hiatus from recording under his own name (1996-2000), venerable singer/songwriter Rodney Crowell did release a side project album for Warner Bros. Records under the name the Cicadas, featuring three of his mainstay accompanists: guitarist Steuart Smith, bassist Michael Rhodes and drummer/vocalist Vince Santoro. But the album was no throwaway lark. Crowell’s vocals and songwriting dominate here, his familiar humor abundant in songs like “Wish You Were Her,” “When Losers Rule The World,” “Blonde Ambition” and “Nobody’s Gonna Tear My Playhouse Down.” The album also contains a cover of John D. Loudermilk’s “Tobacco Road,” which remains a staple in Crowell’s live set today. Since cicadas emerge from dormancy once every several years, Noble Rot makes this under-heralded 1997 album available once again.
The Surf Punks — Oh No, Not Them Again and Party Bomb The Surf Punks were one of the first bands to take surf music out of the realm of the Beach Boys and fuse it with the hardcore punk prevalent in L.A. in the ‘80s. The band, assembled by Dennis Dragon (Darryl the Captain’s brother) in Malibu, proceeded to incite audiences from Orange County to the Valley and across the nation into mosh-pit frenzy. Although the Surf Punks’ earliest material was released on various labels — from Denny Cordell’s Shelter to the band’s indie Day-Glo label and even Epic — their best work was arguably their Enigma and Restless recordings Oh No, Not Them Again and Party Bomb. Oh No contained tracks recorded between 1982-87 including such titles as “ . . . And Then the Cops Came,” “Life’s a Beach,” “Too Many Guys Out,” “Camp Malibu” and a wild SoCal re-do of The Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz.” Like previous releases, it came with a guide to beach-punk slang. Although 1988’s Party Bomb was released as part of Restless Records’ Performance Series of live recordings, there was no audience in evidence. But the set nonetheless conveys the anarchic spirit of the band’s live shows. Surf Punk originals “Somebody Ripped My Stick,” “No Fat Chix” and “Shark Attack” co-exist here with covers of Rosemary Clooney’s “Come-On-A-My-House” and Brian Hyland’s teen-pop chestnut “Sealed With a Kiss.”
Beatnik Beatch — Beatnik Beatch Yes, that’s correct – “beatch” is how these San Francisco neo-beats spelled beach. If you don’t remember Beatnick Beatch, however, fret not — you have certainly heard of their successor, Jellyfish, which went on to record two lush pop albums for Virgin’s Charisma imprint. Jellyfish members Roger Manning and Andy Sturmer deliver “memorable moments that hint at the inventive, infectious melodic sensibility that Sturmer and Manning would further explore in their subsequent band,” according to reissue annotator Scott Schinder. Manning and Sturmer grew up together in the Bay Area and met future Jellyfish member Jason Faulkner at USC. A 1986 Beatnik Beatch indie album led to an Atlantic Records contract during which this eponymous ’88 album garnered a Bammie for “Best New Band” and scattered MTV airplay. The band split in ’89 and Jellyfish came about soon after, but Manning and Sturmer did reunite as B. Beatch to record two demos for a Ringo Starr album. Ringo nixed the songs but they appear on a Jellyfish B-side, and on the Noble Rot reissue.