5 out of 5
Label: Asbestos Records / Underground Communique Records
Produced by: Rudiments, Suicide Machines
Yeah, yeah, it’s called Skank For Brains, it’s back when they were called Jack Kevorkian and The Suicide Machines, and there are songs dedicated to Lucky Charms and Vans shoes; it’s maybe of a time and of an age-range demographic, but dadgummit, twenty years on, hearing it fresh, it still hits your ear guts: you can tell how Rudiments’ Wailing Paddle would launch a thousand punk/ska imitators; how Suicide Machines were able to almost instantly launch to a major label. That the former group used a split album as their first release, and the latter group as their first more widely available release – prior to this, SM had made some limited cassettes – enhances the punk / DIY notoriety of the thing: We Got Together And We Made An Album And Here Are The Zero Fucks Given As To Whether Or Not You Listen. (Alternate album title, most assuredly.)
The Machines are, admittedly, the standouts, here. The liner notes with the Asbestos / UC release has some followers weighing in on the influence of the album, and SM gets more of a callout. They arrive in full force, with that youthful eff-off naivety of Destruction By Definition (which re-recorded much of what’s here) but an amazingly honed sense of song construction and pacing, packing in an amazing amount of variation into the punk/ska thang, as well as clear intelligence fueling the lyrics, even if they are emotionally short-sighted. (I mean, that’s just sorta’ how we do when you’re a young punk band.) The Rudiments land on some absolutely rocking rhythms, but they work more as singles than as an experience; every few tracks you get an average ska beat and/or riff, but it’s committed with passion and verve, making them a good match for the Machines.
The vinyl recording (the repress, in this case) is wondrous; I don’t own the original CD so I can’t weigh in on a comparison, but the sound is full and crisp and captures the energy of each group. As a Suicide Machines fan, this is a must own. While some of the non-DbD tracks (Green World; Bonkers) were maybe rightfully left behind – i.e. not a huge bonus – hearing the pre-cleaned up version of these tracks is a blast, and The Rudiments’ bit certainly ain’t to be dismissed, as I’m now certainly tracking down their sole release from after this to hear more.