Featuring the Ramones, Patti Smith, The Modern Lovers and some undiscovered treats


Ace Of Hearts, 1982

The second wave of US punk was largely a fusion of the Ramones’ speed (without their sense of humour or love of AM radio) and Pere Ubu’s rigour, and punk became the province of intelligent young men who could only access their feelings by screaming at a wall. Mission Of Burma couldn’t even do that. Instead, Roger Miller, Clint Conley, Peter Prescott and Martin Swope cocooned their wounded psyches in spiky and angular guitars, making the most neurotic and skittish brand of punk imaginable. On Vs., the alienation and self-consciousness is resolved (if not exorcised) by the relatively straight-forward attack of the stunning “That’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate”. Sadly, the abrasion was too much for Miller, whose tinnitus became debilitating, and the group was forced to disband. PS


What Makes A Man Start Fires?
SST, 1983

It was sometimes a thin line between punk and post-. The San Pedro three-piece exemplified the furious energies of the one, but leaned towards the jazz/funk/noise recipe that came to exemplify the other. The band made landmark shorter records (like their seven-song debut single “Paranoid Time”) and a magnificent double-LP (Double Nickels On The Dime), but this 27-minute second album plots yet another original course: modal excursions, anthemic invective (“Chasing a reason, refusing to reason, by listening to reason” – as they had it in “Life As A Rehearsal”) and wailing avant-funk-rock guitar. JR


The First Four Years
SST, 1983

They were picky about filling the vacancy. Still, vocalist in Black Flag was no prestige assignment. All the words and music having been written by guitarist Greg Ginn, the mic was a place at which one would put in work, and submit to the collective goal. This comp collects the cuts made with the band’s three pre-1981 singers (Keith Morris, Ron Reyes, Dez Cadena). It also charts the group’s evolution from speedy and satirical (“Nervous Breakdown”) to the more emotional heavy punk they would develop with Henry Rollins (“Damaged I” – sung here by Cadena). JR

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