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Friday, August 13, 2010

Angry Samoans: Back From Samoa


1) Gas Chamber; 2) The Todd Killings; 3) Lights Out; 4) My Old Man's A Fatso; 5) Time Has Come Today; 6) They Saved Hitler's Cock; 7) Homosexual; 8) Steak Knife; 9) Haizman's Brain Is Calling; 10) Tuna Taco; 11) Coffin Case; 12) You Stupid Jerk; 13) Ballad Of Jerry Curlan; 14) Not Of This Earth.

The proper LP debut of the Samoans runs all of a glorious seventeen minutes and honourably fulfills the promise of being the most skilfully offensive record of 1982. Or does it? A brief glim­pse at the lyrics, odd enough, shows that, apart from such predictable target groups as parents, Jews, and gays, most of the insults are hurled either against a vacuum — stuff like 'You Stupid Jerk' barks and spits at no one in particular — or against the band itself.

Musically, there is not much change, except for generally faster tempos (which is why 'You Stu­pid Jerk' is able to make all of its points in exactly twenty seconds) and a very cohesive, uniform hardcore sound that meticulously wipes out all outside influences: no power pop hints anywhere in sight. For a 17-minute running time, though, this is quite all right.

Whether the stuff they are doing is «funny» or «humorous» is a matter of personal taste, debate, and street fighting. Some people will doubtlessly find lyrics like "They saved Hitler's cock, they hid it under a rock... if Hitler's cock could choose its mate, it would ask for Sharon Tate!" hilari­ous; others — unusual, but stupid; still others — offensive without a good reason to be so. But in any case, it seems that humour was not among the Samoans' primary goals here; if some of the tunes come across as funny, it is rather a side effect of trying to be innovative in the art of defying mainstream standards of «taste».

Of course, though, the finer these guys achieve their goals, the more they fail in them. At least half of the songs are furious odes to the art of being braindead and liking it — in 'Lights Out', we are admonished to poke our eyes out, 'Steak Knife' is a further elaboration on all the lobotomy-re­lated topics of the Ramones, etc. But not a single one of these songs could have ever been written by a true braindead punker; on the contrary, it is hard to imagine anyone other than a bunch of for­mer rock critics to devise them. In the long run, Back From Samoa is nothing but a hyper-in­tellectual art-rock album.

In the short run, it is necessary to add that, although I do not believe the band members have really «written» a single one of these riffs, they choose good ones from the standard punk reper­toire, and the choruses are fairly catchy — and where there are no riffs or choruses to speak of, some tunes get by on the strength of gimmicks alone, like the contrastive 'Ballad Of Jerry Curlan', where they seriously take it out on a stereotypical «success story guy» (with a real historical pro­totype, no less) by alternating soft «ballad»-style compliments with every hardcore insult they are able to come up with.

This light entertainment value is what keeps Back From Samoa still somewhat viable today — its offensive power long since withered and tattered by changes in morality standards. Plus the usual level of technique: 'My Old Man's A Fatso', reduced here to ninety seconds of pure flame, combines genuine rock'n'roll drive with a level of precision worthy of a first-rate (okay, second-rate) thrash metal band. To sum up, Back From Samoa is what gives hardcore its good name, and for that, deserves an expected thumbs up.

1 comment:

  1. "… although I do not believe the band members have really «written» a single one of these riffs …"

    Oh, they did. My brother intentionally transmutes riffs once in a while… but basically, the guy is an Engine of Riffage and Pop Hookery.

    Ditto here, though nothing I wrote ever wound up in the Samoans catalog.

    - bonze anne blayk - co-founder, Angry Samoans