Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Aug. 24, 2012
DicksKill From the Heart (Alternative Tentacles)
DicksThese People (Alternative Tentacles)
Ground zero of Austin punk begins at Fat Man and Little Boy, aka the Big Boys and Dicks, mushroom cloud detonations of DIY emancipation. Their 1980 LP split, Live at Raul's, birthed debut singles for both that same year. The latter locals – Gary Floyd, Glen Taylor, Buxf Parrot, and Pat Deason – followed the former group's 1981 full-length with their own two years later, '83's Kill From the Heart, a dozen two-minute grenades down the gullet of Armadillo central's peace, love, and blues.
Remastered "with love" by San Francisco's Alternative Tentacle himself, label owner and Dead Kennedy mouthpiece Jello Biafra, the vinyl cracks and distortion of Kill From the Heart opener "Anti-Klan" set the scene of three decades ago on the University of Texas Drag. With transistor radio sound – trebly cymbals, blown-amp guitars, and Gary Floyd's junkyard dog petulance ("I see that you're a police man/I know you're in the Ku Klux Klan") – it defines crude, DIY efficacy. "See, that's all it needs," someone snorts at the song's conclusion.
Spitting disdain and born-loser self disgust on "Rich Daddy," ("You got a big, fat daddy at home writin' checks tonight"), Floyd is every teen parent's nightmare – taunting, angry, profane – while the band's two-chord electrocution peaks with a guitar solo that sounds like glass in a garbage disposal. Blues strangulation "No Nazi's Friend" demonstrates the disc's two speeds: rage/red light district. Deviant hilarity underlying the still dangerous "Little Boys' Feet" and murderous Manson Family values inciting "Bourgeois Fascist Pig" don't negate a cover of Hendrix's "Purple Haze," faithful, but fully-jacketed punk.
As produced by SST Records imprinter and now longtime local Spot (born Glen Lockett), raw minimalism cut with in-studio exclamations gives the whole glorious riot a thrilling you-were-there immediacy. At the end of penultimate track "Right Wing/White Ring," Floyd spits, "Keep it rolling," which becomes license for 11 minutes of punk blues boogaloo. Top that off with the addition of rarest of rare punk 45s, the three-track Dicks Hate the Police, whose title track has been famously preserved during intervening decades by Mudhoney. The original's warmly produced tantrum doesn't pull any kidney punches.
Two years later, in 1985, Floyd revived the imploded group in San Francisco with drummer Lynn Perko, who later anchored his Sister Double Happiness there. Like its accompanying reissue, These People tacks on inaugural single Peace?, and though the sophomore disc's sonic upgrade can't compensate for the debut's pissed-off and sweaty Austin shack aesthetic, the tonal polish of chopping come-on "Off-duty Sailor" deals a rousing shock in the wake of Kill From the Heart.
Hardcore brawn ("Executive Dive") and the "Whip It" drum intro to "Lost and Divided" – proto-grunge pummel that Floyd soon perfected in Sister Double Happiness – find the singer's fearsome "Two-Headed Dog" yawp coming into its own. Material runs thin quickly, but Tim Carroll's jigsaw guitar heroics remain. Digipak refurbishment and decent accreditation might have tacked on more audio surprises as dug up on the label's previous conservation effort, Dicks 1980-1986, but what's here Kill(s) From the Heart.
(Kill From the Heart)