Unsolicited Not So Quiet On The Western Front Review

Various Artists
Not So Quiet On The Western Front
Alternative Tentacles

Of the two seminal punk comps Alternative Tentacles released back in the day, this is the one that’s not all that hard to find. The other, 1981’s Let Them Eat Jellybeans, has never been reissued or released on CD due to some kind of licensing snafu with Black Flag. It’s also got a Feederz song on it, and AT main man Jello Biafra hasn’t been too keen on supporting that band’s career ever since their singer ran off with Mrs. Biafra in the mid-eighties. So if you ever happen upon a copy of Jellybeans at a swap meet or garage sale, snatch it up and hang on for dear life.

Not So Quiet On The Western Front, which was reissued on CD in 1999, boasts an impressive forty-seven tracks from assorted 1980s Northern California and Nevada hardcore bands (who knew punk was bangin’ so hard in the desert?). This record is a virtual underground treasure trove, an embarrassment of riches, even—yet, as you can imagine, most of the bands get lost in the fray and tend to sound interchangeable with one another. Here now, specific thoughts on notable/interesting tracks:

“Their Mistakes” by Social Unrest – Typical Social Unrest, by which I mean layers of scathing guitar and singer Creetin K-oS’s distinct, unhinged yelp. Makes me wanna lie on the floor and rub my face into the carpet all night. “Don’t blame me, it’s not my fault!” Creetin screams. Alright, dude, just calm down.

“Dan With The Mellow Hair” by Naked Lady Wrestlers – Not as awesome as the name suggests. Generic, reverb-heavy post-Ramones punk. Bleh.

“Turmoil” by Frigidettes – This is more atonal female spook rock than it is punk. Don’t be fooled by the machine gun sounds in the background; the guitar here is just barely distorted. The singer’s vocals are so goddamn loud. Why?

“A Child And His Lawnmower” by Dead Kennedys – This version is so much richer and fuller than the hollow mess that appeared on CD version of Give Me Convenience Or Give Me Death. I guess East Bay Ray wasn’t talkin’ out his ass when he said they totally fucked up the original digital transfers. The guitar is just slayin’ me right now, bro. Fat, greasy slab of pretension: I feel like I’m hearing this song for the first time.

“All I Know” by Rebel Truth – Melodic bottle-smasher that makes me think of barren punk houses and drunk Rancid clones in bondage pants. Ah, memories.

“GDMFSOB” by Bad Posture – I’ve always admired any band that sounds like they’re playing vacuum cleaners instead of guitars.

“Only Good Cop…” by MDC – Razes the competition with its glossy (by comparison) production and shockingly crass lyrical content. You can always count on MDC to get the blood flowing on all fronts. Srsly, this song is making me feel punchy. Look out, bathroom walls.

“Dead Porker” by Nazi Bitch And The Jews – This could be an early incarnation of the Lunachicks. Sure sounds like the same singer. At any rate, this deceased police anthem pales next to the previously remarked upon MDC.

“New Left” by MIA – Fast, bouncy, about nuclear war. I give it an A.

“Libyan Hit Squad” by Tongue Avulsion – And here’s you’re sloppy, pointed, “gonna kill the President” anthem. I actually kinda sorta know a band from Florida called Libyan Hit Squad; I had a hunch their name was too good to have been completely pulled out of thin air. After careful review, I think I like Libyan Hit Squad the band more than Libyan Hit Squad the Tongue Avulsion song.

“Shitcan” by Scapegoats – Unconventional riff alert! They play that widdily-widdily part so fast. Oh man, the breakdown is killer! It almost soars.

Yessir, there’s something for everyone this Western Front album – cop-hating anti-Reagan punks, Reagan-hating anti-cop punks, anti-hate Reagan cops, Reagan-copping anti-hates, and fans of Lennonburger. Not So Quiet On The Western Front is still available for purchase from the Alternative Tentacles website for the reasonable price of twelve dollars. Buy it on vinyl and retain valuable street cred points that can later be traded in for a handsome JFA bomber jacket or a fashionable tote bag with Wesley Willis’ picture on it. No, I’m kidding, AT hasn’t gone to the dogs yet.

FINAL SCORE: Three and a half cease and desist letters from Greg Ginn (out of four).

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2 responses to “Unsolicited Not So Quiet On The Western Front Review”

  1. John Robinson says :

    Love the review of Not So Quiet on the Western Front.

    I was in Naked Lady Wrestlers. I liked the comment about “Dan With Mellow Hair.” The title is the best part of the song. Everyone thinks it about Dan White. It’s not.

    Your ratings system “Cease and desist letters from Greg Ginn” is also funny.

  2. Brian Crain says :

    Don’t remember Not So Quite containing the song “Only Good Cop” by MDC? My copy which Max R’n’R gave me (in early ’83 for a nice donation)had the MDC song “Dead Cops”. Or has it been that long. I was friends with Stan F.,Mark W, and Steve B. from NBJ. Used to watch them practice and play out. They had a lot of cool shit going on music wise. Stan had a nice record collection. He was into a lot of different stuff (music wise). Drugs,overdoses and ? took it’s toll on NBJ. Like a lot of the original Fresno scene. It’s almost all gone now.

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