Monday, February 3, 2014

The Dead Boys - Young, Loud and Snotty!

I’ve had this Dead Boys album in my collection for a few years now and have always enjoyed it. After watching the new CBGB movie and understanding more of the history behind this band, CBGB, and punk rock history in general, I find myself going back to it at a more regular basis.

Originally in a band called Frankenstein from Cleveland, Ohio, vocalist Stiv Bators, bassist Jeff Magnum, drummer John Blitza, and guitarists Cheetah Chrome and Jimmy Zero relocated to New York City in 1976 at the advice of Joey Ramone. Frankenstein soon changed their name to The Dead Boys and with Joey’s help were given an audition and subsequent gigs at the legendary CBGB bar.

They were known for their crazy live performance including singer Stiv hanging himself with his microphone wire, smashing his mic stand across his chest, loads of profanity, etc... CBGB owner Hilly Kristal saw so much potential in the Dead Boys that he believed they would be his winning lottery ticket and became their manager. Together they landed a recording contract with Sire Records.

Young, Loud and Snotty, their debut album, was released in 1977 on Sire. This is the only Dead Boys album that really seems to catch their raw, edgy sound. While it never became a huge success as punk rock never really caught on into the mainstream, they did manage to land a few big gigs including opening for punk rock icons Iggy Pop and The Damned.

Like most punk rock bands from the 70’s, their musicianship was far from impressive, but that didn’t slow them down from writing some great songs. The rock anthem Sonic Reducer opens this album and has gained punk iconic status being performed at many live shows from bands such as Pearl Jam and Guns N Roses.

Sire Records wanted the Dead Boys to change their sound to a more cleanly polished style for their second album, We Have Come For Your Children, to better fit with mainstream music. The band never liked this and it played a big part of them disbanding so short in their career. They did however have to get back together to record one more live album to fulfill their contract with Sire. But in pure punk rebellion fashion, Stiv purposely sang away from the microphone making the live recording unusable. He eventually did have to cave and re-record the vocals completing the album Night of the Living Dead Boys.

The Dead Boys were a short-lived band with their initial run only lasting from 1976-1979. They did manage to re-form for some gigs in the 80’s, but any chances of a full blown reunion were ended when Stiv tragically died after being hit by a taxi in France. The remaining members did reunite in 2005 for a handful of gigs. While never achieving mainstream success or becoming a household name, The Dead Boys did leave a lasting impression on punk rock.  

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