The Dead Boys
All This And More (Bomp!)
by Jon Sarre
Let me start off by sayin’ that neither of these live recordings by two bonafide “legends of punk rock” qualify as “must haves” (though The Dead Boys‘ two disc retrospective comes close if ya have the two studio LPs and don’t have Night Of the Living Dead Boys, Twistin’ On the Devil’s Fork or any of the other live “collector’s editions” recorded over old copies of Quadrophenia blah, blah, blah). It goes without sayin’ that damn few live records are worth ownin’ (MC5’s Kick Out the Jams, however, is a notable exception). They’re usually taped by some bozo with his eyes on some ass, the bar, or the nod, anything but the board and posterity. A decent live recording is often more happy accident and less the result of a planned “document”-type thing.
The MC5‘s offering, Starship, recorded at the Sturgis Armory in Michigan on June 27, 1968 (a scant four months before Kick Out the Jams), is virtually the alternative (read: “less listenable”) take of their first record. The sound is muddy, and stuff like “Rocket Reducer No. 62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa)” hadn’t yet been totally fleshed out. Five of the songs here (including, unfortunately, the dreadful free jazz guitar sludge of “Starship,” though it is a minute shorter) are on Kick Out the Jams, so it’s like, why bother? Producer/ compiler/former manager John Sinclair (author of the hilariously defensive “still paranoid after all these years” liner notes) also thought to throw on the improvised-on-the-spot “Revolutionary Blues,” the classic “Black to Comm,” and three James Brown numbers (A “James Brown Medley”!), Pharaoh Sanders’ “Upper Egypt,” Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti,” Albert King’s “Born Under a Bad Sign” (kinda sludgy here, but I hear Iggy’s “I Need Somebody” comin’ down the line in Jimi Hendrix’ version) and a reworking of the Troggs’ “I Want You” (which, in a still different form, is “I Want You Right Now” on Kick Out the Jams).
The Cleveland, Ohio, to CBGB razorblade and swastika punk of the Dead Boys is barely restrained in the studio, so ya shouldn’t expect much in the way of musical niceties when they’re captured stalkin’ the stage of their transplanted Bowery turf (CBGB, that is, ’77/’78). All This And More is nearly an overdose of messy drunkpunk classics: “Sonic Reducer,” “Caught Wit’ the Meat in Your Mouth,” “What Love Is,” “Flame Thrower Love,” “Down in Flames,” “Ain’t Nothin’ to Do,” the title track, Peter Laughner’s “Ain’t It Fun,” Iggy’s “Search and Destroy,” Syndicate of Sound’s “Little Girl,” etc., etc. (but no “I Need Lunch”!!??). Multiple versions, even! Two discs of live Dead Boys (1 hour, 45 mins, give or take) is mebbe more than you’ll wanna listen to in one sitting, but, as a suggestion, you could listen to one, then go out to a bar and get shitfaced. When ya get home you can treat your yuppie neighbors to the second. Easy!
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