Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Avengers Died For Your Sins


As everyone knows, the Avengers were a San Francisco-based 70's punk band, fronted by the charismatic'n'dynamic singer Penelope Houston and rivaling the power'n'energy of any other group of the time. They only released a 3 song EP during their tenure, but after opening for the final Sex Pistols show in SF, Steve Jones produced some further recordings that appeared after their break-up and since then there have been a number of different releases. This compilation contains studio and live cuts from '77 and '78 along with a few songs that were put down by the Scavengers, a later variation on the group.

Right from the start of "Teenage Rebel" we get a high-energy mix of the Who (reminds me a bit of "My Generation") and chant-along, call'n'answer punk rock'n'roll - damn, remember when punk rock was just stripped down rock'n'roll? More of the same in "Friends of Mine", with maybe a little similarity to X here, although I'm not saying who influenced who, while the politically incorrectly-titled, but damn catchy, "White N*gger", has some Sex Pistols stylings though wrapped in their own originality. (BTW, there was a bit of a movement in the mid-to-late 70's to defuse'n'dilute this offensive term - maybe a bit naive, especially coming from white rock'n'rollers, but it was done with good intentions.)

"The Good, the Bad and the Kowalskis" is a pretty hilarious title for another great punk rocker, more call'n'answer coolness in "I Want In", they get frantic in "Crazy Homicide", then appropriately moody (yet still melodic) for "The End of the World". They present a live, wildly frenzied "American in Me", a hard-hittin' "Open Your Eyes", a crazed "Car Crash", "Tiny Pink Noise" is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it piece, and the ultimate punk rock anthem is, naturally, called "Fuck You". I assume in order to give Penelope's voice a break they cover the Ventures in "Joker's Wild" then back to the chant-along punk rock for "Something's Wrong", pure power in "Desperation", followed by punk empowerment in "I Believe in Me", a raucous "Money" and ending with their terrific anthem "We Are the One".

Naturally, the live recordings lose some fidelity but are a terrific record of the frenzied energy of their shows. This is a wonderful document, but also search out their other studio recordings. Another great, often overlooked, band!