The film Mayor of Sunset Strip showed Rodney Bingenheimer in a poor light. This 1992 CD version of a 1989 'Best of' LP shows Rodney Bingenheimer in his best light, as the lens that brought so many bands energies into sharp focus for a music loving public. The CD version brings six more songs to the collection. Some of the new tracks are among my favorites.
Most of this disc captures the LA scene in the hardcore era of the early 80s, before the influence of metal sunk in and thrash took over as the punk format of choice. There are many bands whose names you will recognize, but the songs presented here are from the early stages of these bands, when they were relatively unknown, and producing the classics that never were topped later in their careers.
Brooke Shields- Spoken Word Introduction
A celebrity endorsement from this star when she was truly the top girl of the TV tube.
*Henry Diltz - This Could Be The Night
A Phil Spector 'Wall of Sound' recording. A re-recording of the Phil Spector/Harry Nillson Modern Folk Quintet (M.F.Q.) track sung my Henry Diltz of M.F.Q. with backing music by The Characters. This track is first rate. Depending on my mood, I would rate this as my fave track on the comp.
Nina Hagen - I'm A Believer
Early Nina Hagen version of the Monkees classic
Agent Orange - Bloodstains
Pretty perfect LA punk. Stands the test of time perfectly well.
Adolescents - Amoeba
Adolescents were kings of the OC (Orange County) skate rock scene. Amoeba has the good melody, fast pace, and chorus vocals the band were famous for, though to me it doesn't stand the test of time as well as the Agent Orange track before it.
Circle Jerks - Wild In The Streets
Circle Jerks became huge, but this track is from their early days, and shows why they eventually became so big.
The Klan - Pushin' Too Hard
Sounds like The Stooges 1970 and The Damned on their first LP - in other words, a great version of The Seed's classic!
Redd Kross - Annette's Got The Hits
Why did they always write such short (great) songs?! Guided By voices must've taken a cue from Redd Kross, fronted by the 2 longest haired brothers in the LA punk scene. This band could write pop like nobodies business.
The Crowd - Modern Machine
Fast and frenetic like The Wierdos. Another favorite. They were centered in Huntington Beach, and became inspirations for the OC scene and bands like Doggy Style, DI, and Adolescents.
Channel 3 - You Make Me Feel Cheap
Channel 3 eventually became perceived as a skinhead styled oi band, but this excellent track is pure punk, with male/female vocals and tons of energy trick.
T.S.O.L. - Abolish Government/Silent Majority
True Sound of Liberty put out tons of records. this song paints them at their best, with an almost Angry Samoans speed and energy.
Red Rockers - Dead Heroes
I don't like this one, though it sure is timely now, talking about "dead heroes of the usa" as it questions war
* Ill Repute - Clean-Cut American Kid
My favorite band on the disc. In Spring 1985 I listened to Ill Repute's What Happens Next LP constantly. This Santa Barbara band became associated with the Oxnard 'Nardcore' scene. They were the fast and frenetic, and were skinheads that didn't hate. This song reminds me of the Mystic Records scene. It isn't my favorite Ill Repute song, but it still is ace.
J.F.A. - Preppy
Jodie Foster's Army were one of the first bands to exclusively court skaters as their fans. They had the coolest name and a great image, but I never thought their songs were the best, and I don't find this one to be super either.
The Vandals - Urban Struggle
In 1963 cowpunk took LA by storm as Tex and the Horseheads, Blood on the Saddle and Rank and File played the clubs. Trust The Vandals to make a great cowpunk song that goofed on the scene at the same time as it honored it.
Gleaming Spires - Are You Ready For The Sex Girls?
Sounds like a reaction to Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change band. The melodies on this song seem to come from the same bin as mainstream artists like Bruce Springsteen, but this is decidedly underground and low budget.
Calamities - The Kids Are Alright
A high energy female vocal version of The Who classic that says "I don't mind other guys dancing with my guy." the vocalist has an interesting accent too.
*Sky Saxon - Barbie Doll Look
Classic new wave sound that doesn't stand up well to the years. Sky Saxon was the vocalist for The Seeds, but he became an LA fixture that crashed on many people's floors in the early 80s punk era.
Dramarama - Private World
Dramarama were a little too big budget and clean for me, but how can I knock a band that covers one of my favorite New York Dolls songs, particularly one written by my guitar idol Johnny Thunders. Sadly, this version, though competent, doesn't add a thing to the original. Why bother doing a carbon copy of such an ace track?
Bangles - Bitchen Summer
Early work by the band that recorded Walk Like An Egyptian. Bitchen Summer is a surf instrumental with a bit of wordless vocal.
Agent Orange - Misirlou
Agent Orange is the only band to have two cuts on this comp, but it is only right for a band with 2 sides: Agent Orange wrote punk songs on one hand, and blazed surf instrumentals on the other. This is one of their surf tracks.
*39 Steps - This City Of Vice
I don't like this one. This has the mid paced Flesh For Lulu, Gene loves Jezebel, or Mad Parade groove that rose in popularity around 1985
The Nuns - Suicide Child
My favorite track on the comp - no contest. Works on so may levels that it has to be loved. Skirting the same musical ground as 45 Grave, Suicide Child has it all - a story of depravity, great music, lots of changes without sounding contrived, and male/female vocals.
*Cristina - Is That All There Is?
The first half has the same musical territory as Suicide Child, but comes off more like a second rate Pere Ubu or John Collins Band. The second half chugs along in a metal fashion. I'll bet the guitarist was in a proper metal band within a year of this recording.
*The Characters - This Is Goodbye
The Characters are the band that backed Henry Diltz on track 2. Pop is the name of the game here. The sound is clean pop, like Let's Active or The dBs, only with a slightly country edge.
* = CD bonus tracks