Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., Dec. 16, 2005
Only the Good Die Young (Restless)
Birthed from the nascent no-futurism of L.A. punk rock circa 1980, 45 Grave were largely unheralded characters in the emergence of goth as a cultural touchstone. Perhaps that's because they never took themselves too seriously. Unlike scene contemporaries Christian Death, 45 Grave's liberal embrace of surf rock, party-down metal, and horror-movie exploitation kept the music fun while still scaring the crap out of concerned parents. Their 1983 classic, Sleep in Safety, is front-loaded with ghoulish anthems like "Insurance From God," "Dream Hits," and "Party Time." 45 Grave broke up in 1985 but continued to play the odd reunion until bassist Rob Graves died of an overdose in 1991. Only the Good Die Young is a reissued live set from one such Hollywood performance in 1988. While the sound could be better, the album successfully captures 45 Grave's morbidly twisted essence for future generations. Vocalist Dinah Cancer is in full scream mode here, delivering the aforementioned tunes with blood-curdling ferocity as guitarist Paul B. Cutler kicks out the trinity-denying jams. The set includes the heretofore-unreleased epic "Sorceress," a hardcore throttling of "Black Cross," and a depraved cover of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five." Decomposition never sounded so good.