Monday, August 13, 2012
As part of Southern Lord’s reissue program, the second in a series of Poison Idea titles, The Fatal Erection Years (Pick Your Kings), comes out on August 14th. This new 45-track disc contains the “Pick Your King” EP, the band’s 1984 follow-up Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes 12”, “Laughing Boy” (from the "Drinking Is Great" compilation 7”), “Typical”, “Die on Your Knees” and “I Got a Right” from the impossible to find 1985 Cleanse the Bacteria compilation LP. The disc winds up with a 19-track live set that was recorded for a previously unreleased live album at The Met in Portland, OR circa 1983. The audio has been remastered and restored by Jack Control (World Burns to Death, Severed Head of State), and the poster/booklet contains liner notes from Poison Idea vocalist Jerry A, and tons of photos, flyers and more from the band’s early days.
The thirteen tracks on “Pick Your Kings” are predominately old-school hardcore numbers that are dominated by Jerry’s hoarse bellow and Pig Champion’s speed/thrash riffs. Beneath all of this – the drums pound away but there is no sign of a bass in the mix. The only track that breaks from the full-out hardcore assault is “I Hate Reggae”. The band seems to have more of a metal edge on the Record Collectors are Pretentious Assholes tracks. Pig Champion’s riffs are more ‘metallic’ and Jerry’s voice is more balanced and his vocals are more controlled. On these tracks, the bass is audible and an integral part of the band’s attack (check out “The Rich Get Richer”). Songs like “Time to Go” and “Thorn in My Side” show how the band’s songwriting abilities has grown by leaps and bounds. Taking things one step further, the four compilation tracks show the band moving into Black Flag territory.
The 19-track live show captures the sound of the punk sound of the early 80’s perfectly. The recording is reasonable and supposed to be from the soundboard but one has to remember that many soundboards at punk venues were held together by string and bubblegum. (I remember a Husker Du show that had to be stopped when the band blew out the board.) The band reminds me of Black Flag’s live show – and they do a similar deconstruction of “Louie Louie” along with scathingly funny “My Hard-On Withers in Your Face”. There isn’t a lot of dialogue between Jerry and the audience but Jerry introduced the punk-rock putdown “Slam Dance Jam” by saying “By the way, we are Adam Ant”.
While the video that follows is a different show than the bonus live show - it is a good representation of how Poison Idea sounded live in 1983.
Poison Idea is back on the East Coast (I think this is the band’s first NYC show in 10 years) to play the Power of the Riff Festival at Warsaw on September 1st. Fans of old-school hardcore (like Negative Approach, who is also playing the Power of the Riff East show) owe it to themselves to give this disc a listen.