Wednesday, May 02, 2007


When I was a teen I had a habit of falling asleep at night with the clock radio on, only to wake up around 3 or 4am to turn it off. Most of the time I’d doze to KFJC, my local college radio station, and I was such an adept snoozer that even hardcore punk, screaming early industrial noise and The Birthday Party, three of KFJC’s specialties circa 1981-84, couldn’t stir me. I did get into trouble twice. Once some late-night program was playing a song called “The Boiler” by a spinoff band made up of members of THE SPECIALS. The song, as I remember, was fairly musically pedestrian but spooky ska number with a spoken-word tale of a woman dodging an attempted rape. At one point in the song she starts screaming, and that coincided with some hideous dream I was having, culminating in me awaking in total, abject terror. Good times!

The only other time I remember that happening was getting startled awake by a song I’m posting for you today, 1979’s “Caucasian Guilt” by a short-lived San Francisco duo called NOH MERCY. Ah, I recall it like it was yesterday, the mellifluous notes that floated into my slumber as vocalist Esmerelda Kent shrieked, “I didn’t put no JAP in a CAMP!!”. I didn’t hear the song again outside of 1-2 more times that year until an LP compilation came out in 2000 of rare, weird, ultra-DIY, 70s-80s artpunk noise called “I HATE THE POP GROUP” that had this track on it. It originally was part of another comp, a 7”EP from 1979 called “EARCOM 3” that I used to see around in the bins, and which had a handful of other noisy acts + two tracks from THE MIDDLE CLASS 45 (!). The other one from them on this EP – the only other song in NOH MERCY’s brief discography – is called “Revolutionary Spy”, and it’s nowhere near the caliber of “Caucasian Guilt”. I’m posting it for you completists.

This covers all the bases – drums, vocals, muffled sound, anger, screaming, alternately great yet often painfully lame lyrics, admirable socio-political statements, nasty words, and wonderfully bizarre echo-chamber recording techniques. I love it. I’m including a picture of the band playing live in ’79 at San Francisco’s MAB, courtesy of Steve Harlow, whose punk photo site you should check out. Bombs away!

Play or Download NOH MERCY – “Caucasian Guilt”
Play or Download NOH MERCY - "Revolutionary Spy"


Anonymous said...

Scarily enuff, I have the Specials 45...truly one of the most frightening records ever...(Rhoda & the Specials) and the song was indeed "The Boiler".


Anonymous said...

I have Earcom 3 (and indeed Earcoms 1 and 2) where Caucasian Guilt first surfaced. I always thought this track was excellent. Shame their other track is not quite up to it. Good stuff.