RECORD REVIEWS, JULY-DECEMBER, 2022.
THE MUTANTS. Curse of the Easily Amused CD (Liberation Hall) Formed in 1977, The Mutants were an important part of San Francisco’s early punk rock scene. Like many of their contemporaries (Avengers, Dils, Crime etc) they may have been initially inspired by The Ramones but The Mutants took their own direction, combining music with an Art School attitude to create something not so far removed from what Devo or Talking Heads were doing around the same time. Although fronted by Fritz Fox, they also included two female singers, Sue White and Sally Webster, to add further depth to their delivery and their provocative live shows quickly built a strong local following for the band, spanning the punk, new wave and alternative-Art crowds. But for some reason, it took them several years before they would release their first record, the self-titled EP on local label 415 Records in 1980. It would then take another two years before their one and only LP, ‘Fun Terminal’, was released, but during that time they still managed to play further afield, particularly LA which they visited frequently and also cities like New York, Washington DC and Boston, receiving enthusiastic reactions along the way. Unfortunately, the original line-up began to fall-apart during the mid-Eighties, although different versions of the band do still continue to reunite on appropriate occasions, when it seems the right thing to do. This new, 14 song compilation is made up of previously unreleased tracks, including eight songs which have never been released at all. Perhaps because it took several years before they recorded their first EP, and then another couple of years before the album appeared, there seems to be quite a lot of material that was jettisoned along the way and is only now beginning to re-surface. But what was unfortunate for the band back then, is a bonus for fans finally getting to hear that material now. Many of these songs have been remixed to bring out the best in them, while others are entirely different versions to the tracks that are already available elsewhere. Musically, they still sound unique and that gives these recordings a vitality that makes them sound surprisingly fresh. If you’ve ever been interested in the early American Punk scenes, this is something you really need to hear. The Mutants took their own path and played their own way. Isn’t that what Punk was supposed to do?
SVT. Always Comes Back CD (Liberation Hall) Sub-titled ‘The Authorised Recordings’, this album gathers together all of the official releases by this San Francisco based rock band, who existed between 1978-81. Their best-known member was Jack Casady, who had previously played in the bands Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, whilst other members had also played, or would later play, with the likes of Huey Lewis, Roky Erickson and Tuxedomoon. However, this band took a different direction and veered more towards a harder, rock version of powerpop, which certainly had commercial potential but didn’t quite find the wider audience it required for mainstream success. That said, they have maintained a cult following over the years and this album, which makes all of their original records available again for the first time in many years, is bound to be popular with their fans. This is a good example of older musicians embracing the new music that was starting to appear in California and borrowing some of its’ attitude to create something new of their own. Admittedly, you can still hear some of the ingredients hanging over from earlier musical eras, but this still sounds pretty damn good. Especially if you have a taste for classic powerpop, this is something that you really need to check out!