Having reviewed Jerry A‘s fantastic solo album From The Fire Into The Water last year for The Shaman I was absolutely ecstatic therefore to be given the opportunity to cover Young Lords, Poison Idea‘s earliest known recordings from May 5th 1982 at The Metropolis in Portland. It was to be a full year before the debut Kings Of Punk EP and in fact, a number of tracks from this live set would go on to feature there too.
Poison Idea at this time consisted of Jerry A Lang on vocals, bassist Glen Estes, drummer Dean Johnson and the late Pig Champion on guitar. All the members comprised the Darby Crash Rides Again line-up, itself a reference to The Germs who proved a massive influence both on Lang‘s lyric writing as well as the reason for calling his label American Leather Records (a track from the legendary GI album).
The first thing to note is the recording; early ‘80s hardcore, especially live albums were not necessarily known for their outstanding quality. However, a cursory listen to Young Lords, proves that a pretty decent job has been done at capturing the rawness and chaos of a nascent Poison Idea. Living in England and only three years old in ’82 I’d have had no chance of being present and thus the record with its crowd noises, onstage banter and high octane kick-ass music goes some way to giving people of my generation (and younger) the opportunity of immersing themselves in what sounded like an immense and intense show.
Now the part you’ll have been waiting for, the songs. According to the promo notes, and I’m paraphrasing, but Poison Idea at this stage were playing covers of bands they enjoyed, two of which make an appearance here. Beach Blanket Bong-Out by surf/skate-punks JFA is the first, and as to be expected a lot more aggressive, especially in the vocal department. It would be hard to imagine for instance the likes of Tony Hawk doing an ‘ollie’ or ‘darkslide’ to this number with any degree of ease.
Young Lords is a perfect snapshot of a band at the start of their career…
The other is Public Defender by Henry Rollins’ pre-Black Flag outfit State of Alert (SOA), a much overlooked Washington DC outfit. Poison Idea have a way of making any cover defiantly their own (check out their version of Motorhead later on as further evidence of this), so much so that you’d be hard pressed to tell if it was an original or not. Outstanding.
As for the rest of the tracks, I’ll highlight two or three that are of particular note (in my humble opinion). Opener Bounce The Rubble demonstrates a Circle Jerks influence with some delicious Keith Morris style snottiness thrown into the mix. Poison Idea may be synonymous with their slower, darker crossover Feel The Darkness material thanks to covers by Pantera and Machine Head, but it’s easy to forget that they could ‘thrash’ with the best of them as Underage proves, so much so it will give you goosebumps and finally M-80 reminds one of SS Decontrol’s The Kids Will Have Their Say, the guitar-work especially reminiscent of Al Barile and that whole Boston Crew sound which delighted me as a fan of that scene.
In conclusion, were it not for a word limit I could have waxed lyrical about this record indefinitely. Young Lords is a perfect snapshot of a band at the start of their career (most of whom were teens at the time, hence the name of the album) which will satisfy both Poison Idea fans as well as those with a love for vintage early ‘80s US hardcore punk.
Scribed by: Reza Mills