Archive for the ‘Gorilla Biscuits’ Category


In a post from a couple of days ago, Rebecca Kushner mentions a bunch of punk bands that she either knew or hung out with.  I was amazed at how many of them I’d heard of but didn’t really know.  So this seemed like a good opportunity to go punk surfing.

Of all of the bands that Kushner mentions, Gorilla Biscuits were the only one that I knew pretty well.  I seem to recall a gimmick of this CD was that here were 99 tracks on it–possibly the first CD to have maxed out the track numbers?

Gorilla Biscuits released an EP and this album and then they broke up–although they do still tour and play a lot of punk festivals.  Start Today is considered one of the great albums from the New York hardcore punk scene.

It’s a pretty classic hardcore record, with almost all of the songs two minutes or less.  That’s fourteen songs in 24 minutes.  And there’s some great lyrics in these songs too.

“Degradation” was a pretty straightforward attack on the Nazi skinheads infiltrating the punk scene.

True, they’re always at our shows
It doesn’t mean we fit in with their hatred and racism shit
They ruin our name, you know what I mean
Racial supremacists, they degrade our scene
You know you can kiss my ass before I read you ‘zine
There’s no good side to this white power scene
Kids beat down for standing up
Your turn will come because we’ve all had enough

But the album also plays around with expectations a bit.  The album opens with a 20 second horn fanfare.  Despite the brevity of the songs, many of them stick in some (short, simple, melodic) guitar solos.

Plus, the title song “Start Today” has a cool heavy breakdown in the middle that tacks on a harmonica solo (!).  “Competition” includes a bit of whistling, too.

The album has two bonus tracks “Sitting around At Home” which is a Buzzcocks cover.  The vocals are very different on this one.  So much that I’d have guessed it was a different singer.

[READ: February 10, 2021] “The Butcher’s Wife”

This story is about the daughter of drunken Polish man who lived on a farm in Minnesota.

Roy Watzka loved his wife with all of his heart.  She died when their daughter Delpine was very young, and Roy fell apart.  He devoted more of his love to photoshop his deceased wife than his daughter.  Despite Prohibition, Roy found ways to drink and he drank a lot.

Delphine tried to get away–she went to secretarial school. But as her father’s health began to fail, she returned home to care for him.

When she went into town to get some food, she entered the meat market and met Eva Waldvogel.

Eva sensed a kindred spirit in Delphine and invited her behind the counter to taste the lard that she had prepared. Eva’s husband had been trained as master butcher in Germany and he had a special process to render his fat.  As they spoke Delphine mentioned her father and Eva knew of him (everyone did).

Soon enough Delphine was working in the shop.

Eva treated her like a sister.  Eva’s husband Fidelis was a tougher person.  He could haul hundred pound slabs of beef.  He was abrupt and barely spoke to Delphine.  She decided she would avoid him as much as she could while working in his shop. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: U.K. SUBS-Another Kind of Blues (1978).

In this essay, Rebecca Kushner mentions a bunch of punk band members that she either knew or hung out with.  I was amazed at how many of them I’d heard of but didn’t really know.  So this seemed like a good opportunity to go punk surfing.

U.K. Subs are a punk band that I’ve heard of but really knew nothing about.  A little research tells me that they have been active all of these years–their latest release was in 2019.  That’s some serious staying power.  According to Wikipedia, there have been about 75 members of the band over the years.

This first album is a pretty fascinating listen.  Most of the seventeen songs are under two minutes long, but they’re not blisteringly fast or anything.  The songs are more or less blues based (as the title indicates) but faster and grittier

This is definitely a punk album.  But they follow a lot of rock song conventions.  Indeed, “I Live in a Car” is a minute and a half long but it’s got verses a chorus and two guitar solos.  “I Couldn’t Be You” even has a harmonica solo.

But songs like “Tomorrow’s Girls” offer good old punk chanting choruses.  And “World War” which is all of a minute and twenty three seconds is actually over 20 seconds of explosion.

“Stranglehold” was a pretty big hit in England and it’s easy to see why.  It’s got an immediate riff, a three chord chorus that’s easy to sing along with and a bouncy bass line.  And it’s all of one minute and fifty-seven seconds.

Checking some of their other releases through the years, UK Subs definitely went through a metal phase in the 80s and 90s, but their 2016 album Zeizo has found the punk spirit again.  I think I like Zeizo better than their first.

[READ: February 2, 2021] “The Hard Crowd”

I’ve read a few things by Rachel Kushner, although I’ve never given any thought to her biography.  I never would have guessed that Kushner was part of a San Francisco pub scene when she was growing up (or that she is essentially my age).

This essay is about that time in her life.  When Jimmy Carter was president and he quoted Bob Dylan in his acceptance speech “He not busy being born is busy dying.”

She says that being born is an existential category of gaining experience and living intensely in the present.  Conversely, dying doesn’t have to be negative–the new stuff is over but you turn reflective you examine and tally–it is behind you but it continues to exists somewhere.

She says she’s been watching film footage found on Youtube shot in 1966 or 1967 from a car moving slowly along Market Street in San Francisco, where she grew up.  She assumes it is B roll from a film, because it is professional grade (she imagines it was for Steve McQueen’s Bullitt, but that’s not based on anything).

She worked at the Baskin Robbins making $2.85 an ahour.   The shop is now gone and she thinks it’s weird to be sentimental about a chain store, but when her mother took her to the IHOP years after she worked there, it all came flooding back–sights, smells.  Despite every one being identical, this one was hers. (more…)

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