Man, when these 1979 recordings came out illicitly in 1989, the hype-o-meter on CRIME was higher than Everest and off the charts; everyone I knew was just cottoning to “San Francisco’s first and only rock and roll band” because SONIC YOUTH had recently covered “Hot Wire My Heart”, and a bootleg compilation LP called “Year of the Rats” had just come out with that song and “Frustration”. That was the first place I heard those songs, and of course they blew my young mind. I knew that CRIME had only put out three 45s, and that the third one was no good – but I had visions of dresser-drawers full of old demos that would be every bit as savage & raw as their first two singles, and I totally wanted to hear ‘em.
Turns out that the band really didn’t have such material – or if they did, it still hasn’t been unearthed. Maybe on the long-rumored, don’t-hold-your-breath Revenant CRIME box set? What did come out in 1989 was a three-song bootleg 45 called “FIRST BLOOD” on the Punk Vault label, and when I saw it in the bins @ Zed Records in Long Beach, CA I tucked it inside my jacket and strode purposefully up to the counter, lest some budding KBD-punk enthusiast snatch it out of my hands. When I got it home and onto the turntable, I was – how you say – a little “meh”. It wasn’t quite the punk rock firestorm of “Frustration”, “Murder By Guitar” or “Baby Your So Repulsive”, but it was pretty good. This is a late 70s band I’d have wanted to see, but not the creators of two of the greatest rock and roll records of all time. Just listened to it again and I think I dig it now more than I did then – increasing age sometimes does that. Here’s what I dug up about “First Blood” on a Crime discography site:
Fifth release in this Forced Exposure/Byron Coley series which also featured releases by Bad Brains, Weirdos, Rocket from the Tombs and more. Three previously unreleased studio tracks from August 10th 1979, produced by Huey Lewis (pre Huey Lewis and the News fame) and Shaun Hooper. CRIME had 3 recording sessions at Different Fur, with known recordings surviving from 2 sessions. These are the only tracks to surface from these recordings.
So there’s two things I don’t know whether or not to believe: whether HUEY LEWIS was involved (definitely plausible, since he was part of the San Francisco “new wave” scene around that time and has been known to talk about the punk era with admiration), and whether or not Byron Coley was the guy behind the Punk Vault bootleg series. Years ago I would have been clued in to that sort of thing, but you know, life happened. Anyway, I thought you might be into hearing my newly-digitized “FIRST BLOOD” 45 – I don’t believe these recordings have ever been made available outside of this record. Take it away, Frankie & Johnny!
Play CRIME – “If Looks Could Kill”
Download CRIME – “If Looks Could Kill”
Download CRIME – “Rocking Weird”
Download CRIME – “Lost Souls”