Step right up and try your luck with the self-proclaimed Kings of Punk.
Alex Deller 2012
Compare, for a moment, Poison Idea to many of the well-groomed and immaculately-tattooed punks strutting their safe ‘n’ sanitised stuff today. Here was a band that was fat, ugly, ill-kempt and proudly degenerate. You’d never find them in a gym or their posters plastered on the bedroom walls of teenage girls, and their music represented an adequate enough summation of the bleak, brutal reality they inhabited: raw, belligerent and yet, for all its many sins, comfortable in its own sallow, pock-marked skin.
Despite tumultuous line-up changes, wanton criminality and slavering addictions, the band managed to outlast many of their strait-laced peers, influencing everyone from heavy metal’s biggest hitters (Pantera and Machine Head would both go on to cover tracks from their Feel the Darkness masterpiece) to legions of basement-bound hardcore acts who’d toast the band’s on-again-off-again existence with cans of warm beer while trying to recreate the blitzed-out brilliance of the late Pig Champion’s furious guitar work.
This first installation of a comprehensive reissue series showcases the band as they crawled up from hardcore’s primordial soup, acknowledging Black Flag and the Germs while putting their own stamp on a genre that had yet to be formalised, codified and over-analysed. Proceedings start with six unreleased cuts from the Boner’s Kitchen demo, a blur of all-consuming fuzz and buzz overseen by Jerry A’s sneering vocals. The demo’s final track, Give It Up, segues into a beefed-up and infinitely more bellicose rendition of the same song that appeared later on the Darby Crash Rides Again demo, an eye-watering dose of fury whose raw materials would later resurface on the seminal Pick Your King 7". The rest of the CD comprises an audience-baiting KBOO live set and two offcuts from 1984’s Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes 12", wherein the band’s next iteration was already starting to take hideously lumpen shape.
The results – despite the estimable remastering job – ain’t pretty, and if you’re looking for some sort of sugar-coated punk rock joyride then this certainly won’t be for you. If, on the other hand, you aren’t afraid to get a little grubby and grapple with a band who fought dirty while they merged a quiet yet fierce intelligence with black humour and foul-mouthed, untrammelled aggression then, hell, step right up and try your luck with the self-proclaimed Kings of Punk.