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VA - Feel Lucky Punk ?!! (199?)



[...] The bootleg compilation Feel Lucky Punk? has already been mentioned at the end of chapter one. This record is a fine sampler of archetypal late seventies style American and Australian punk rock, which brings together many of the best tracks to be found on the various volumes of the Killed By Death series. As was the case with the individual who issued the Anarchy In The UK CD, this is another bootlegger who is utterly shameless, and can't really be bothered to hide his identity. The gentleman in question is well known in the record trade for having put together the absolutely best series of sixties American garage rock compilations. Both the sleeve-notes, and the choice of Gonzo Hate Binge Records as a 'cover' for this particular bootlegging operation are obvious clues to his identity. But as with our previous bootlegger, the owners of the copyright which is being infringed are unlikely to enjoy sufficient financial security to take legal action – and what's more, many of them have probably thanked him for reissuing their product!

Simply providing the track listing for Feel Lucky Punk? gives a good indication of the anti-social nature of sneering two-chord garage rock: Rocks – Hanging On; Queers – I Don't Wanna Work; Psycho Surgeons – Horizontal Action; Nervous Eaters – Just Head; News – Tell Me Why; Queers – I'm Useless; Violators – N. Y. Ripper; Hollywood Squares – Hillside Strangler; Lewd – Kill Yourself; Mad – Disgusting; Rocks – Damn You; Unnatural Axe – They Saved Hitler's Brain; Rocks – Kick Her Out; Queers – At The Mall; Nervous Eaters – Get Stuffed; Freestone – Bummer Bitch; Mad – I Hate Music; Nasal Boys – Hot Love; Queers – This Place Sucks; Leftovers – I Only Panic When There's Nothing To Do; Child Molesters – Hillside Strangler; Queers – Kicked Out Of The Webelos.

Yes, the principal concerns are sex, murder and other anti-social acts! In terms of lyrical content the Psycho Surgeons exhibit a typically Aussie PUNK facility for word play, rhyming as they do 'hospital traction' and 'horizontal action' in a speed freak hymn to lust. Likewise, the Nervous Eaters are distinctively American in their singer's up front statement of what's on his mind: 'Just head coz I'm in a rush / Just head that'll be enough.'

Although Feel Lucky Punk? is supposed to be a sampler of '77/'78 era PUNK ROCK, the Queers didn't issue their first record until 1982, and the four bootlegged tracks actually date from 1984, although they're wrongly attributed to 1983 on the sleeve of the Gonzo Hate Binge compilation. The bootlegger justifies the inclusion of the Queers on the grounds that their music hasn't been corrupted by 'shit hardcore' influences, and the band certainly don't appear out of place on the record. It was being bootlegged both here and on Killed By Death that transformed the Queers from complete unknowns into a cult among those who appreciate the joys of 'obscure' PUNK ROCK. This is a good example of bootlegging greatly benefiting the holders of an infringed copyright because in being bracketed with a clutch of collectable punk bands from an earlier period, the Queers were able to break through to an audience who liked their sound but was deeply suspicious of eighties exponents of the genre and related tendencies such as hardcore.

When the group's second album, Love Songs For The Retarded, appeared in 1993, every other record collector I encountered was asking, 'is that the same Queers who are on Killed By Death and Feel Lucky Punk?' There was a certain amount of confusion due to the band having parted company with the singer featured on their 1984 EP and the sound being somewhat smoother. Once it was confirmed that this was the same Queers, there was a steady demand for the group's deleted 1990 long player Grow Up, which was subsequently reissued. While all the band's output is energetic and tuneful, the more recent material lacks the hard-edged '77 style sound of early songs such as We'd Have A Riot Doing Heroin and I Spent The Rent. Like the previous two albums, the group's most recent release, Beat Off, features a Ramones influenced surf-punk sound, or put another way, it's perfect pop music for skateboarders and discerning record buyers of all ages.

The Child Molesters provide Feel Lucky Punk? with 'super-dumb sleaze-bag thud' in the shape of their first single, Hillside Strangler, which was both intentionally offensive and very badly recorded. Much of this cult group's output has appeared in recent years on the highly collectable Sympathy For The Record Industry label, some tracks being reissues while other work was previously unreleased. In a similar groove to Hillside Strangler is (I Wanna See Some) Wholesale Murder. However, the Child Molesters' greatest achievement was 13 Is My Lucky Number, a masterpiece of 'bad taste' in which the band detail their liking for young girls, while simultaneously managing to rhyme 'jailbait' with 'statutory rape'.

It is worth remarking here that PUNK transgressions of 'good taste' are an important element of its antagonistic relationship towards the dominant culture. As Pierre Bourdieu points out in his book Distinction: A Social Critique Of The Judgement Of Taste (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London 1984), the notion of 'good taste' is culturally loaded. The 'anti-social' theatrics of PUNK ROCK are in many ways an attack on a key concept in the ideological armoury of 'serious culture'. Unfortunately, PUNK ROCK contestations of bourgeois aesthetics (whose entangled methodology seeks to justify social stratification on the basis of 'taste') are rarely articulated in anything other than, at best, a semi-conscious way. As a consequence, PUNK attacks on elitism can end up reinforcing the hegemonic position of the dominant culture, which knows very well how to defend itself against populism. Poorly articulated criticism can very easily be turned back against those antagonistic towards the reigning ideology of judgement and used as a justification for their continuing exclusion from the various institutions that simultaneously propagate and defend 'serious culture'. Intransigent exponents of 'bad taste' such as the Child Molesters, whose musical development underwent an unfortunate evolution in the direction of jazz, were probably more consciously aware of this state of affairs than other, less 'arty' 'PUNK ROCK' acts. [...] --- Stewart Home

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