Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Feb. 11, 2005
When Explosives drummer Freddie Krc describes the Explosives as "three against the world" in the liner notes to KaBOOM!, he's not kidding. Krc, Cam King, and Waller Collie were regarded as interlopers when they hit Austin's punk/New Wave scene of 1979, all edgy clothes and veteran-musician panache. They forged a brand of iron-clad pop that drew on the trio's Sixties garage rock backgrounds and melded it with New Wave trappings. It was tough, uncompromising pop, and just over 25 years later, the band explodes once more with 49 tracks on a 2-CD anthology of recordings from 1979-1982. Disc one is the trio's extensive studio output, including 10 songs from their three vinyl EPs. It neatly illustrates their growth from hook-laden but derivative pop ("A Girl Like You"), ponderous social commentary ("Fortress Europe"), and singsong social satire ("Tommy and Toni") to righteous rock ("Stuck in the Ball Turret"). They developed a solid knack for snappy pop that bordered on novelty ("UFO") and songs that should've been early MTV material ("New Shoes," "In My Head"). Disc two is live, including 18 tracks from a Continental Club show that opens with a smoking "Headhunter." While the second disc repeats much material from the studio disc, the concert cuts are often superior versions ("Come Clean," "Selling Out"). The Explosives weren't only the best-documented local band of the era on vinyl, but one of the most musically proficient. They boasted both style and substance at a time when image was everything.