The Suicide Commandos
Make A Record (Mercury/Chronicles)
by Nik Rainey
The Suicide Commandos were a Minneapolis punk band. Not much of a stretch these days, but this was ’77 – Bob Mould had yet to take his first cap of speed, Paul Westerberg could probably still remember to take out the trash (which didn’t yet clink with empty gin bottles), and Prince still had a name you could pronounce.1 It was a simpler time, when Ubu and the Ramones carried equal influence and the title of this LP was an unironic expression of awestruck triumph. It just didn’t happen in those days – it barely did in New York and London, much less in a city whose greatest claim to fame at the time was that chick who threw her hat in the air.2 But happen it did, and nineteen years after its original release, it’s back, a gen-you-whine punktique3 to savor as you sit in your smoking jackets with Crass patches on the elbows,4 swishing around your snifters full of Ripple, savoring the memories.
I’d call it good timing on Mercury’s part – fake accents, stripped-down enthusiasm, pyromaniac tendencies5 and all, it sounds remarkably contemporary – a little more snot-nosed ennui and thicker production and you’d mistake this for Epitaph’s latest neo-pogo throwback. Almost. There’s something endearingly quaint about this record – the upfront appropriation of their contemporaries’ moves6 and the cornball musical sniggers7 suggest an innocence and an untainted joy in the act of music-making that went hand-in-hand with punk’s dystopianism back then but sure as shit8 doesn’t anymore. Buy two of these – take one for yourself and give one to a pre-teen who hasn’t yet been ruined for life by syringe-rock or any of its tributaries.9 It may be our last hope.10
1Some of you may take umbrage with the last inclusion, but compare the recent activity of each member of the above-mentioned trio and you tell me who the real punk is.
2Just had a revelation – could the initials of this record be a sly reference to Gavin McCleod’s term of endearment for the legendary perky fictional newswoman?
3 This word, a registered trademark of Rainey Daze, Inc., can mean either an old punk-rock artifact or an upmarket clothing establishment that sells overpriced flannel shirts, designer ripped jeans, and 24-karat safety pins. In this case, I mean the former.
4 Which can be found in the other definition of the word “punktique.”
5 Viz., “I Need A Torch,” “Match/Mismatch” (possibly), and “Burn It Down.” The latter was the soundtrack for their video(!), which featured the band lip-synching in front of their rehearsal space as it burned to the ground. If
Beavis and Butthead had existed back then, these guys would be at least as legendary as, say, Morbid Angel.
6“Attacking The Beat” and the title of “Mr. Dr.” prove that someone hoisted a
Pink Flag over the Twin Cities; “Real Cool” might actually have predated the post-Rotten Pistols’ Eddie Cochran lifts; “I Don’t Get It” may be an allusion to Sid Vicious’ response when somebody told him a knock-knock joke. Or maybe not.
7An imagined conversation:
- Commando A: Hey, the Pistols did “Steppin’ Stone” – let’s do a different Monkees tune! That’d be a hoot!
- Commando B: Okay, but first check out this new tune I wrote – it’s five whole minutes long!
- Commando C: Did I leave a lit cigarette around here somewhere?
8 Just a thought – how sure is shit, anyway? What kind of certainty does feces have? I suppose it can tell the difference between itself and Shinola, but otherwise…?
9 If, indeed, any still exist – I pray that the rumors that Frances Bean Cobain has started a band with Shannon Hoon’s kid are unsubstantiated.
10 Nothing to add here, really – I just love making footnotes.