Saturday, December 22, 2007

F - 4 From '84 7"




F are a Florida punk band formed in 1981 by Flash, a frontman who combines the go-for-broke enthusiasm of Iggy Pop with the genuine cluelessness of Nigel Tufnel. Flash and his bandmates loved the Ramones and Sex Pistols, but also loved AC/DC and Alice Cooper, and didn't really see any difference between them, so it all ended up in their music. This 7" release from Burrito Records collects 4 standout tracks from their 1984 debut The Danger is Here, originally released on cassette only.

In 1983, guitarist Ken Decter joined the band. He didn't get along too well with Flash, and he left to form his own band called F, who played their own versions of the songs he had written with Flash. They put out You Are an EP in 1984. Over the years, this version of F has gotten quite a bit of acclaim among hardcore enthusiasts, and You Are an EP has become a (deservedly) sought-after item by punk collectors, but the Flash version of the band is mostly unknown outside of Florida, probably because most of their releases have been on cassette (they've put out a few CD's in recent years, but this is their first vinyl release). And I'm as guilty as anyone--listening to this single now, I'm ashamed that I didn't pay more attention to this band back then!

The first track is Flash's signature song, "I Saw Your Vision (in a 3-Car Collision)." I'm not sure if it's an improved mix, or if my memory is just faulty, but I remember the cassette having a thin, squeaky sound. But here, it comes through loud and clear. You can hear an mp3 of this song at the Sound Idea website, and see what I mean. As a bonus, here's an earlier version of this song from the 1982 compilation The Land That Time Forgot. It was recorded in a living room on a portable tape deck.

F - I Saw Your Vision ('82)

You can hear an even earlier version of this song--from the pre-F band Chaos, recorded in 1978(!) when the guys were still in high school--here. And here's a video of them performing it live:



The other three songs are "No," Spit It Out" and "Such Men Are Dangerous." If you're familiar with You Are an EP, these are the same songs recorded the same year by a completely different band with the same name! Contrasting the two, you can hear the creative differences. The Decter band plays them as DC-style hardcore, while Flash's band plays them as late-70's punk (think Dead Boys, Pagans or Crime). Other than that, the arrangements are pretty much the same, and I'm not sure which I like better. Flash's voice does get a little Axl Rose-y on "Spit It Out," which I could do without, but other than that, this is great stuff.

The record comes with two inserts featuring a great interview with Flash, a bunch of pictures and flyers, and liner notes by former members Mike Chatham and Ravenous Gangrene (who would later join Gay Cowboys in Bondage, who recorded the anthem "I Hate Flash," which you can hear on their myspace page).

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