Thursday, September 12, 2019

Rubber City Rebels - Live From Akron

I first saw'n'heard Akron, Ohio's Rubber City Rebels when both they'n'I moved out to LA in the late 70's. These cats were a garage/bar band that caught the punk/new wave/ power pop bug and updated their image, stripped down their sound, added a couple of hip covers (the Nerves, Dead Boys, and assorted 60's tunes) and were pretty popular in the scene for a while there and then kinda disappeared. Frontmen Rod Firestone and Buzz Clic, along with bassist Donny Damage and drummer Mike Hammer, reunited in the late 90's/early 2000's and did more tours (my band, the Excessories, played with them in LA and they packed the place) and recorded this live album in their home town. A great sounding record, this is a pretty damn good representation of their live shows, with Rod's funny/goofy raps and the group's tight, 70's-punk musicianship.

I know that the Rezillos recorded it before them, but these cats rock a excellent version of Fleetwood Mac's catchy/sing-along, rockabilly/punk-rock-before-punk-rock "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight" and follow that with the pure pop of the Nerves' "Paper Dolls" (did I hear somewhere that the Nerves wrote that for the RCR's?). From there they move into a streak of mid-tempo, 70's punk originals with snotty teenaged lyrics like "Gonna Be Strong" (about being a bullied teen), the poppy "Young and Dumb", and the garagey "Bluer Than Blue" before another a couple of 60's covers - the Stones comparatively obscure "Surprise, Surprise" and the Music Machine's hit "Talk Talk", both of which kinda reminds me of what the Droogs were doing in LA at this time.

More of their wacky originals continue - the super-catchy sci-fi/horror of "Brainwave", the cannibalistic tour de force "Childeaters" (remember when punk was fun'n'funny?), the fast-paced "Laugh", the punk/metal hybrid "Kidnapped", the metally riffer "Brainjob" (with the line "I've got a headache in my pants" - anther Turbonegro influence!), there's more macabre humor and stolen riffs in the goofy "Born Dead" and they bring things to a climax with one of their best, their theme song "Rubber City Rebels". Of course, they can't call it quits so soon, so they cover their friends'n'peers in "Sonic Reducer" and "Personality Crisis" before leaving the maddening throng to their own devices.

With lots of 60's and 70's influences - garage, early metal, Alice Cooper, glam, etc. - well before punk hit, the Rebels had all the right ideas but none of the luck. This is an excellent blast of 70's punk rock'n'roll, though!