Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Punk Single of the Week: Zany Guys - Party Hits Vol. II 7"

One of the things I really love about early 80's hardcore is that it really was music made by kids. Look at the photos on the back of that sleeve. These guys were probably not 18 when they put this out. And you can hear it in the music. They don't sound like the twentysomething brat packers pretending to be teenagers in the John Hughes movies, they sound like teenagers. And their songs deal with real, teenage concerns.

I believe this record came out in '84. I've never seen a Party Hits Vol. 1, but if it exists, I bet it has a skeleton raising a middle finger (it probably did exist, but as a cassette passed around to their friends). The first song is your basic punk rock of the time. The second song, "Hardcore," is the one that got them what little notoriety they had, a song that goes back and forth between hardcore and a sarcastic attempt at country, with lyrics like "I can't stand Miller's Outpost or sawdust on the floor/And if'n I went to Nashville, I'd call Loretta a whore." POETRY! A review in the local fanzine Suburban Relapse accused them of ripping off local band Gay Cowboys in Bondage, but either way, I think the Zany Guys song pulls it off better (see what you think--here's "Cowboys Are Gay").

The best song on the record, though, is "Paperboy Blues." I love it when a band writes a song about an experience that people don't usually write about, and as far as I know, nobody else has ever written a song about how much it sucks to have a paper route. I never had one, but I knew a lot of kids who did, and it sure seemed to suck. "Five O'Clock in the morning, he peddles down the street/Wishing that he'd stayed in bed and slept--oh, how neat!" It just catches the drudgery of having to work when you're a kid. Poor guy--the local hooker won't even accept his money!

The last song is even more definitively teenaged, an angry rant about the grumpy old man down the street that's always giving them shit. What's Mr. Ackers' deal, anyway? Why's he always have to give the kids such a hard time? What did they ever do to him? Did they insist on playing their loud (and not very good) music until midnight, or on Sunday afternoon when he relaxes by birdwatching on his back porch? Did they skate through his flower garden? We don't know. Mr. Ackers' side of the story is doomed to be lost forever. History is written by those goddamn kids.