La Peste is more than Boston's finest unrecognized force in first wave (circa 1978) punk to me. They have become a gathering point through which I have met people, and even provided employment for me for twelve years when I worked in (bassist) Mark Andreasson's Environmental Graphics company.
Before I moved to Boston in 1984 I had only heard about La Peste guitarist/vocalist Peter Dayton. La Peste had already broken up at that point, a passing I didn't care about as I didn't even know about them. What I knew was that Peter Dayton had a 12inch EP called 'Love At 1st Sight' with a killer track called 'Skin Tight' on it, and that his bassist was Peter Collins, from the NYC band The Invaders. The Invaders had put out a 7inch 'With The TV On' that I liked a lot.
It was only after I moved to Boston that I learned about La Peste. My friend Craig, who I grew up and played in numerous bands with, was playing with Mark Andreasson, Roger Tripp (La Peste drummer), and Richie Parson (from the other killer Boston band Unnatural Axe) in a little known band called Stickball. I was amazed that this town had such a great club scene, with Chet's Last Call my fave of the lot, especially as I lived in the nearby North End. There was also Storyville, The Rat, The Channel, Jumping Jack Flash, and Jack's, to name a few. Not one of these clubs are around anymore. I had already missed the marvel that was Cantone's, and oodles of other small clubs that La Peste played all the time at, such as The Birdcage and The Space. The Birdcage was a small strip-bar in the combat zone and they allowed some punk bands to play there for a short while in 1978. The Space was located around the corner from Cantones in the financial district. The Space was a disco. In late 1978 through the fall of 1979 they let bands play there. Later they went back to just disco music with no bands.
Aside from a couple of songs on a Modern Methods compilation (Modern Methods was the label formed by Newbury Comic's Mike Dreese) La Pest had only released one 7inch in their whole career. That self-released 1978 single 'Better Off Dead' b-w 'Black' is the kind of stuff that provides stand out tracks for comps like the Killed By Death series. Better Off Dead is an amazing song.
La Peste was a trio made up of Peter Dayton, Mark Karl (Mark Andreasson), and Roger Tripp. They were listening to what was going on around them, and absorbed The Ramones, The Clash, The Buzzcocks, The Jam, and many other bands I can only imagine. They even covered The Sensational Alex Harvey Band song 'Action Strasse.' What they had was personality, great looks and image, a frontman with true charisma, and great songs.
What I am reviewing here is the first volume of three CDRs which recently came into my hands. This CD has 23 songs. There is no info about where the tracks were recorded, but you can hear that the disc comprises a few different sessions, one session after another. Some of the sessions may from live radio sessions, some may be studio demos. None of the tracks are throwaway in terms of content or quality.
The CD starts off with Betty's So Dumb. I remember Mark Andreasson giving me a CD of La Peste stuff that had this song and another (Johnny Is A Rocket) that he made me promise never to play on the air. Of course, THAT just made me more fascinated with the tracks. Betty's so Dumb is a great cut - one of my fave La Peste songs. Yeah, it is simple and not too bright, but simplicity is the weapon that the best songs wield with power (look at Abba).
On this CD I also love the versions of Kindness Invites Abuse, Spymaster, Don't Know Right From Wrong, Acid Test, Figure It Out, and Kill Me Now.
Nothing on this CD is on the La Peste record that Matador released in 1996. That record only had 5 studio tracks on it. This CD proves the legacy that may not have been apparent to anyone whose knowledge of the band is based solely on hearing the Matador La Peste CD. I hope that some label puts out all this great music someday soon.