Yesterday I wrote a blog discussing the “Pebbles” compilations. These comps featured obscure 60’s garage bands who only released an EP or two. Most of the songs featured were previously extremely rare and would probably go for a pretty penny on Ebay or other record collecting websites. Pebbles comps changed all that and made this obscure music available to the masses. Well I’m here today to tell you about an equally amazing series of compilations set out to do the same. I’m talking about Killed By Death. Killed By Death is the “Pebbles” of punk rock. Most of the music was recorded in the late 70’s or early 80’s. A couple of weeks ago I searched for Killed By Death in this program I have called Vuse (i have a mac). I clicked the first thing that came up which turned out to be EVERY Killed By Death compilation on one file. I still haven’t heard every song. Ya know.. I really thought I knew punk rock, but I got to be honest… most of these bands I had never heard of. Some of them I did, like The Freeze, Zero Boys, and Unnatural Axe. Anyway, the sound of these bands are varied, ranging from power-pop to new wave to crust punk to Skrewdriver-influenced Oi and 77 style Sex Pistols punk rock. It was hard to find information on a lot of these bands, but most of what I did find was on Killed By Death’s SUPERB website http://www.kbdrecords.com/ Go there for info on bands and free mp3’s. I wouldn’t recommend downloading every single comp like I did, because there is a lot of filler and crappy bands with crappier songs. Most of it is worth a listen though.. so heres my top ten Killed By Death songs, followed my top ten favorite Pebbles songs.
TOP TEN KILLED BY DEATH SONGS
10. “Stoned To Death” by the Zero Boys. (Killed By Death Vol. 4)
although Indiana’s Zero Boys are mostly associated with the american hardcore punk movement of the early 80’s, they had some great slower paced songs featured on Killed By Death, Stoned To Death being the best.
9. “Out Of Order” by The Skinnies (Killed By Death Vol. 10)
Released in 1978, the Skinnies “out of order” is a crudely recorded catchy punk rock ditty that will get stuck in your head for days. The vocals are strange but fitting and the harsh sounding guitars, treble-riden cymbol crashes and the one note piano smashing will make you pogo in your pants.
8. “Time Change” by The Red Squares (Killed By Death Vol. 10)
Arizona’s Red Squares released their “Modern Roll” 7″inch on Nanxiety records in 1981. This is just a rockin’ tune with ultra-fuzzy guitars and chorus-ridden leads. This is 2 minutes and 13 seconds of pure punk rock energy.
7. “I Hate Tourists” by The Freeze. (Killed By Death Vol. 2)
I’m a bit bias towards the Freeze.. their from my home state of Massachusetts and were one of the first Boston punk bands. They were different from Boston hardcore bands of there era like SSD and DYS, they played more melodically and even through in the occasional synthesizer in some of their tunes. Also, having lived in Salem, MA, I can totally relate to whole hating tourists bid. Great tune from a great band.
6. “Never Work” by The Lost Generation (Killed By Death Vol. 14)
When I first heard this song I didnt know if I loved it or hated it. The singers nasally vocals and the generic three chord structure was a bit of a turn off, but this song quickly grew on me. Its a very simple song about not wanting to work, how work sucks, etc. I was not able to find ANY information on this band, so I’m guessing their pretty obscure and or forgotten.
5. “The Creeper” by Unnatural Axe (Killed By Death Vol. 10)
Another great Boston punk rock band. The Creeper starts off with some strange breathing and then promptly kicks into a heavily fuzzed out punk song about a kid who gets revenge on his classmates and teachers in various violent ways. Only a minute and 47 seconds, this song will leave an impression far exceeding its length… and dont call me a creeper.
4. “Amerika First” by the Gizmos (Killed By Death Vol. 09)
About 10 years ago I found a record in my dads basement by a band called the Gizmos. At that same time my dad was playing in a band called the The Psycho Daises with lead singer Kenne Highland, who I would eventually play with on stage at a wedding reception. It took me some time to put 2 and 2 together to realize that Kenne Highland was the lead singer of the proto-punk band the Gizmos. Upon further research I discovered that is was Highlands’ demo’s that started the Gizmos. “Amerika First” is like MC5 with more hooks and a more garage feel. Awesome tune.
3. “Go to Hell” by The Railbirds (Killed By Death vol. 14)
This song really reminds me of early Skrewdriver, which I’m a huge fan of. Don’t get me wrong, I think Skrewdriver’s later more racist stuff sucks ass, but their is no denying that All Skrewed Up and the You’re So Dumb/Anti-Social EP’s are awesome. Anyway, I’m not sure if these guys are British, I couldn’t find a scrap of information about them. They do have a Last.fm page, but the bio is blank.
2. “Hot Sody” by the Screamin’ Mee-Mee’s. (Killed By Death Vol. 3)
When I first heard this song, I thought I was listening to Pebbles. The sound is ultra lo-fi and straight out of the garage. The tape hiss could almost be considered a 4th instrument on this track. The Screamin Mee-Mee’s were a band out of St. Lois, Missouri, not exactly a mecca for punk rock, but thats the great thing about these compilations. Most of the bands were from ‘nowhere’ places. Although I wouldn’t exactly call this song a punk rock song, it’s definitely a good one. Fans of Pebbles and garage rock in general will love this track.
1. “Almost Ready” by The Normals (Killed By Death Vol. 10)
Although the Normals lead singer sounds straight out of Liverpool, the Normals actually hail from New Orleans, which I think is awesome because I didn’t think punk rock existed in New Orleans. Just from the opening guitar riff you instantly know you’re about to hear a great punk rock tune. The Normals incorporate a bit of power-pop to their noisy yet melodic sound. The recording quality is lo-fi, the hooks are great, this song really should be more popular. Information on the Normals is scarce, but what I do know about them is their from New Orleans, their single Almost Ready came out in 78′, and they are a great fucking band that no one knows about!
Pebbles top 10 list to come.