Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Squidhat '77 - A Las Vegas Punk Rock Tribute to 1977

Compilation records can always be an iffy proposition. While a fan of one band will likely find another that they dig, more often than not, there will be tracks that they won't care for at all. But variety is what it is all about and this release gives an inkling as to the variety that is offered in the Las Vegas scene.

Most of the bands here are modern Vegas punk bands, though there are some variations on the theme. Of course, 1977 is the year that punk rock broke, so it was highly influential to most everyone who is playing today. But, covering 1977 punk can be difficult since a lot of groups are using that basic sound to this day. Case in point - the Gashers covering the Sex Pistols - a little snottier (if you can believe it) but basically a stock cover version of "No Feelings". Japan's The Heiz (they play Vegas often enough to almost be considered a local band) pull out an unexpected Shaun Cassidy number, "That's Rock'n'Roll", but are successful with it, as they pull their influences from the 50's through the present and blend it up to make their own sound with anything that they do.

The Civilians do a pretty damn spot-on cover of Thin Lizzy's "Bad Reputation", complete with harmony leads, which is impressive. Considering their expertise with vocal harmonies, it makes sense that Franks and Deans covers ELO's "Turn to Stone" (not the great Joe Walsh number), Guily by Association does a punk rock take on "We Are the Champions" which is funny, the Dammit Jims have the challenging task of covering the Ramones "Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment", which is pretty straight-forward, and the Quitters are equally ambitious as they tackle the immediately identifiable "Lust For Life" and do their best to make it their own.

My pals, the Psyatics picked Pink Floyd's "Pigs", not something that I would expect from them, and not a particularly memorable number to start with. Of course, they twist'n'turn it into a post-punk, staccato, noisey rocker, as they do. New Cold War turn Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" into a heavy metal/grunge tune, which makes it stand out here, the Hard Pipe Hitters' "Sonic Reducer" is a pretty standard take on this much-covered number, and the Negative Nancys add some changes to the Buzzcocks' "Boredom" and Rayner goes for the goofiness of "Margaritaville".

Another ambitious undertaking is the Scoundrels taking on Television's "Friction", but they do it justice - keeping enough of the original but adding their own bits'n'pieces - impressive. The Dirty Panties also do a good job with "Psycho Killer" and the Bloodcocks UK knock it out of the park with an incredible "Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll" (Ian Dury) - since they never play in Vegas (only Japan), I wasn't sure what to expect but this is amazing! Showing off their nerd credentials, the Classifieds do Star Wars' "Imperial March", having never been much of a reggae fan, I didn't recognize Go Bold's punk rock take on Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" or the Pluralses growling version of Meatloaf's "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad".

Unbelievably, I have yet to see the New Waves, Vegas' instro band that reinvents 80's songs as surf numbers, but their "I Want You To Want Me" is pretty damn cool, Joy Division as thrash punk as Unfair Fight does with "Warsaw" isn't my thing though the Squidhat All Stars doing "Brick House" is pretty amusing, and while the Clash's "1977" is the appropriate closer, the Civilians and Friends stock interpretation doesn't add anything - not bad, but nothing that stands out, either.

As I said, comps can be hit'r'miss, but this is pretty fun overall.