Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Compilation Compost

Being a young music lover with a spartan budget, I typically ended up snagging compilation albums in the hopes of finding something new and improved.  

More often than not, I'd end up regretting the purchase.  

Too often, compilation albums are nothing more than a means for a record company to squeeze every last dime out of a song or artist before moving on to the next flavor of the month.  

But sometimes... sometimes you could strike gold.

- Rat Music For Rat People (Front), 1982 - Go! Records #GO 003

Not too long after I first began purchasing my own music, I stumbled across Rat Music For Rat People.  The title excited me.  Would there be songs about giant rats and their unwilling food source?  

Not as such.  

But the band listing was almost as interesting as the title: Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains, Circle Jerks... haha!  A band named Flipper?  Neat!  D.O.A., Crucifix, TSOL, Avengers, and The Dils.  

It was a risky purchase.  I knew of four of the ten bands, but had only actually listened to Black Flag and the Circle Jerks.  And it was a live album.  Even then I knew that live albums were never to be trusted. Unless it was Johnny Cash.  You could always trust Johnny Cash...

In the end, I swung the deal on the merits of the Dead Kennedys name.  That was sure to irk the hippie vampire.  

It ended up a wise purchase - and a sucker buy at the same time.  

- Cracks In the Sidewalk (Front), 1980 - New Alliance Records #NAR-001

The next four or five compilation purchases I would make were, for one reason or another, flat-out amazing...    

Cracks In the Sidewalk introduced me to the glory that is the Minutemen.  And the cover art genius of Raymond Pettibon.

From then on, I would buy every single album that featured a Pettibon cover.   
Did someone say sucker buy?  

The artists: Minutemen, Black Flag, Saccharine Trust, Kindled Imagination, Artless Entanglements, and Sharp Corners.  

Like any self-respecting (i.e., recovering) punk, I've still only heard of the first three bands.  

- Let Them Eat Jellybeans (Front), 1981 - Alternative Tentacles Records #Virus 4

Let Them Eat Jellybeans! would be the start of a long held appreciation of the Alternative Tentacles label.  It was also the high point of my compilation buying streak.

To this day, the track listing still blows me away.  It is amazing that Alternative Tentacles was able to put together the line-up:

Flipper, Ha Ha Ha -- D.O.A., The Prisoner -- Black Flag, Police Story (with Dez!) -- Bad Brains, Pay to Cum -- Dead Kennedys, Nazi Punks Fuck Off -- Circle Jerks, Paid Vacation -- Really Red, Prostitution -- The Feederz, Jesus Entering From The Rear -- The Subhumans, Slave to My Dick -- Geza X, Isotope Soap -- Bpeople, Persecution, That's My Song -- Wounds, An Object -- The Offs, Everyone's a Bigot -- Anonymous, Corporate Food -- Half Japanese, Fun Again -- Christian Lunch, Joke's On You -- Voice Farm, Sleep 

Great, great stuff.  

- The Blasting Concept (Front), 1983 - SST Records #SST 013

After snacking on Jellybeans, I immediately picked up The Blasting Concept.  After digesting that one, I would run out and buy the Minutemen's Double Nickels on the Dime double LP.  It might well be the strongest back-to-back-to-back purchases I would ever make.

Four tracks by the Minutemen, three tracks by Black Flag (featuring all three of the Flag's lead singers up to that point), two tracks by the Meat Puppets, and individual cuts by Saccharine Trust, Overkill, the Stains, Würm, and the mighty Hüsker Dü; what was not to like?  

Not too damn much.

Unless you consider that SST Records would eventually bloat itself into a coma, Alternative Tentacles would ugly itself with petty infighting, New Alliance Records would die with Minutemen lead singer D. Boon, and Rat Music For Rat People would spawn two banal sequels.  

Go, Team Punk!

Links of Interest:

* Cracks In The Sidewalk, 1980 - Cosmic Hearse Blog
* Let Them Eat Jellybeans!, 1981 - Lucid Media Blog
* Rat Music For Rat People, 1982 - Stealingofanation Blog
* The Blasting Concept, 1983 - The Blasting Concept Blog


  1. Thanks, Melvillain.

    With so many fantastic blogs out there - yours included, inspiration is always to be had.

    And if that inspiration so happens to end up as crap, I've got many people to blame. Heh.

  2. A-Ha! Finally, your TEW moniker is explained...

  3. Heh! There we go, Mr. Rankin.

    I've used the D. Boon's Ghost homage since stepping foot into the internet wastelands in the late 90s. In all that time, only two people have recognized the reference.

    I cannot tell you how many times people have accused me of being the ghost of Daniel Boone. Ha!

    D. Boon was my hero for quite some time (still is, as far as that goes).

    The Minutemen played Cleveland in '83, I think it was. My uncle was tight with someone involved with the venue, so he brought me backstage with him. D. Boon took the time to actually talk with me, asking about my school and the scene around it - my opinions on things, etc.

    As all of us are aware, when we are dorky teens no one seems to really care to listen to us, much less ask our opinions.

    His generosity in that regard really made an impression.