Flashback #1: "So you've been to school for a year or two and you know you've seen it all."
Today's first flashback was released in 1980, the very same year Penelope Spheeris made and released her documentary about the punk/hardcore music scene in America (The Decline of Western Civilization). Perhaps coincidentally, Billboard's top artists for 1980 included Diana Ross; The Captain & Tennille; Lipps, Inc.; and KC & the Sunshine Band. A short two years after their founding, our first artist released their first assault -- I mean, album -- upon the record-buying public: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. Seemingly on a mission to expand the boundaries of poor taste, this band was also very clever in their sarcastic, often satirical, lyrics targeting social and political issues. Fresh Fruit reached #33 on UK charts and is still critically praised. You can find it on many lists of essential or best punk albums. And this song is surely listed as a favorite. Thirty One years later, it still sends a chill down my spine and gets me moving. Here is "Holiday in Cambodia" by Dead Kennedys!
Flashback #2: (instrumental)
There are people who might think punk is merely playing as loud as you possibly can while spit-screaming obscenities over anyone pressed up against the stage. That might cover a great number of punk bands, but it doesn't apply to the genre as a whole. Consider the artist for our second flashback. Black Flag started in 1976 as a muscular, atonal punk rock in search of a tempo. But in the early 80s, they started to incorporate other elements and influences, noticeably freestyle jazz with heavy metal undertones. Speaking of experimental work, their 1984 release, Family Man, was unique in that side A had spoken-word tracks, while side B featured four instrumental tracks. Our second flashback of the day is lifted from side B: "Long Lost Dog of It."
Flashback #3: "Donuts on your lawn!"
With a combination of jangly guitar, biting lyrics, and low-key nerd appeal, The Dead Milkmen were a favorite among high school and college-age listeners in and around their hometown of Philadelphia, PA. This undergound fandom propelled the band to success on college campuses across the country. Speaking of college radio, The Milkmen's debut album, Big Lizard in My Backyard (1985), was a regular in playlists due to the genius of our third and final flashback, "Bitchin' Camero." My favorite part of the song is the dialogue intro, which is improvised for live shows (I saw the Milkmen at Penn State in 1987).
Once again, I remind you that the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. As I've made my three offerings, that's all till next week. But if you 80s-philes need more flashbacks, please visit the archives. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If you don't like the flashback, share it with your enemies.
I'll see you in seven!