The American In Me
Punk will never die; it’s all digitized now and will circulate as long as sentient beings can tell a one from a zero. The Avengers slipped across the LA punk scene in a brief, glorious stream of fire, garnering some serious Rodney on the ROQ airplay with the anthem “American in Me”. Its burning angst sold like hot cakes as Penelope Houston screamed “It’s the American in me that never wonders why Kennedy was murdered by the FBI.” A thousand bands came to life those days, each with maybe half a hit in them, all of them playing the Whiskey or The Roxy or that crappy Chinese restaurant on East Hollywood Blvd. Skill wasn’t required — hell, it got in the way. The point was ANYONE could start a band, record a record, get it on the air, and it seemed like a the only thing standing between a person and fame was the gumption go out and steal a guitar, and find a drummer in the free want ads of the LA Weekly.
This neat little retrospective digs out some unreleased material, some remixes, and a few clunkers, packages it in a convenient format that was only the dream of a Japanese engineer when this went on tape, and puts it in your hands so you can reminisce like I am right now. The title tune is a bona fide punk hit; I think I have the EP somewhere in my stacks. Other songs are worth noting — “We Are the One,” “Uh-Oh,” and “White Nigger,” all of which pack a vocal punch with decent backup. About half the album traces back to their last show at the Waldorf — they capture the live, out-of-tune sound that most punk bands produce on stage. Remember kiddies, the stuff you hear on the radio is nearly always done with the band sober, the instruments in tune, and a live producer trying to make some money from the band. That’s the cleaned up sound — it’s easier to listen to, but misses the point. I don’t know how easy it is to start a phenomenon these days, all by yourself, but if you even suspect you can, go give it a try. If you’re lucky, you can resell the tapes in 2031.
Penelope Houston: www.penelope.net