Tag Archive | FEAR

Unsolicited Fear Record Review

The Fear Record
The End Records

Fear’s 1982 debut The Record eschewed the standard Ramones blueprint of punk for a more obtuse, syncopated sound that pushed the guitar back while simultaneously pushing forward the antagonism and social apathy that marked the genre. To this day there’s honest fright to behold in the album’s grooves as the jarring barbs of singer Lee Ving fly by in operatic style beside a band that sounds like some kind of malfunctioning machine. Alas, The Record can no longer stand alone proudly in its own field: Ving and his latest version of Fear re-recorded the entire album last year as The Fear Record for reasons that were never made entirely clear.

The Record was originally released via L.A. punk label Slash; Slash was bought up years ago by Warner Bros, and if I were a betting man I’d say Lee Ving probably attempted to buy back the original tapes at some point before this and gacked on his own tongue when WB slipped him the price. There could also be some legal red tape with Fear’s other original surviving members, inventive guitarist Philo Cramer and hyperactive drummer Spit Stix. On the other hand, considering Ving’s propensity for re-recording Fear oddities and b-sides in the past, maybe he simply decided 2012 was the right time for a do-over of his most ballyhooed creation. Whatever the reasoning, it was faulty. This endeavor is the underground equivalent of Gus Van Sant’s Psycho.

The Fear Record brings a meaty NOFX-style sound to the material, which of course never needed those kinds of sonics to come across punk. Philo Cramer’s frayed guitar work was enough to convince you Fear were no normies. A Cramer solo is a spine-bending affair that projects an acute sense of odd; here, we get half-hearted wanks sitting atop of Xeroxed Johnny Ramone pounding. Speaking of pounding, original drummer Spit Stix was the best reason anyone had to take Fear seriously as musicians, circling around in strange time signatures and playing with such fervor Dick Dale famously accused him of “goosing the beat.” Fear’s current drummer Andrew Jamiez does an okay Spit Stix impression on The Fear Record but ultimately makes you yearn for the real mccoy.

Of course, most Fear boosters will probably be focused on Lee Ving’s voice, which by this point has become a phlegmy shadow of its former self. It was a bad move to start The Fear Record off with Lee croaking out the famous “I Love Livin’ In The City” refrain—more of a lozenge commercial at this point than ironic rallying cry. Sadly, there are several spots throughout where you can apply the same put-down. At least Lee gets through the album’s faster numbers like “We Destroy The Family” and “Gimme Some Action” without losing his place.

Whatever other good things you can say about The Fear Record (the songwriting itself retains some of its original magic, there are no kazoos, as far as I know no pets were maimed during its recording) are outweighed by the massive pointlessness of the endeavor. What did Lee Ving and his latest Fear cronies (Jamiez, Paul Lerma, and Dave Stark) stand to gain by giving us a take two on one of punk’s greatest entries? Who knows. The only thing we gain from this lark is a sharp reminder that the original version of The Record is an amazing relic that cannot be improved upon.

FINAL SCORE: One Xeroxed Johnny Ramone (out of four).

Twenty-Five Other Essential Punk Albums

A companion/reaction piece to Rob O’Conner’s recent listicle for Yahoo. Robbo hit all the biggies, but hey, listen, there are all these others. Entries are not numbered because I simply jotted titles down as I remembered them. I couldn’t possibly rank these fine works.

The Gits – Frenching the Bully

Quoting myself: “The Gits…bashed out sharp barre chord combinations with a bluesy twist that perfectly accentuated singer Mia Zapata’s deep, gutsy attack…1992′s Frenching the Bully was a diamond drill of raw nerve, one that ground its targets into a fine gruel.”

Adolescents – Adolescents

Is there irony in a seventeen year old singing “I Hate Children?” Yes, but only if you’re over twenty. The Adolescents offer sneering SoCal skate punk with the occasional detour into airy, soaring melodiousness. More sensitive than the Circle Jerks, but just as worthy.

FEAR – The Record

Posturing, theatrical, totally laughable when it isn’t legit frightening. The only thing weirder than Lee Ving’s opera singer-meets-redneck vocal style is Philo Cramer’s demented guitar work. “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” might convince you to hide under the covers all week.

The Queers – Don’t Back Down

This record defines the Queers aesthetic (beer + girls + Johnny Ramone + Mike Love) just as well as any other. The production is flawless, though, and Joe King never wrote better heart-poking anthems than “Number One” and “Love, Love, Love.”

Reagan Youth – Volume 1

If you can’t beat ’em, confuse ’em. These peace punks attempted to deflate white supremacy/neo-nazis by latching on to corresponding imagery. The results were mixed, but they wrote some classics (“Degenerated,” “Anytown”) and that guitar sounds gloriously like a vacuum cleaner.

Crucifucks – Crucifucks

Doc Dart unleashes his inner toddler, throwing a tantrum over all manner of authority while his band mates whip up churning, dissonant noise. Interspersed between the songs are Dart’s various phone entanglements with law enforcement—which prove equally enthralling.

Adrenalin O.D. – The Wacky Hi-Jinks of Adrenalin O.D.

Pushing hardcore to the brink of utter blurriness. Goofball humor takes the edge off (“Rock n’ Roll Gas Station,” “AOD vs. Godzilla”). The song about hating Trans Ams might be subterfuge, though. These guys are from Jersey.

76% Uncertain – Estimated Monkey Time

Another one that leans metal but retains its cred. Contains the best (and perhaps only) hardcore punk song written in favor of curbing dogs. And how can you dislike any album boasting a song called “Monkey Jam” that features record scratching?

Replacements – Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out The Trash

Raucous Americana punk that masks genius songwriting and arrangement with shambolic, self-deprecating noise. No question these guys would eventually rule the indie rock wastelands. Crown jewel of the Midwest.

Cramps – Songs The Lord Taught Us

The seamy underbelly of rockabilly is nothing if not punk. Lux Interior was walking catharsis wrapped in leather, and the Cramps were living, breathing sex. You’re not from the right planet if you don’t like at least some of Songs The Lord Taught Us.

Dickies – The Incredible Shrinking Dickies

Helium-voiced basket case convinces Iggy Pop’s drug dealer to write songs about conquering or being crushed by social anxiety. The results gave Billie Joe Armstrong and his friends a nice template to work with fifteen years later. They also cover Sabbath and it is awesome.

Be Your Own Pet – Get Awkward

That spunky girl from your middle school grew up, went off her meds, and recorded a playfully violent collection of songs that occasionally reference Robocop, zombies, and friendship bracelets. Like, OMG, she will fucking cut you, bitch.

Guitar Wolf – Missile Me!

The lowest of the lo-fi, Guitar Wolf turn everything up to eleven and end up sounding like they’re trying to outplay a space shuttle launch. It’s charming, considering their musical style is pure 1950s motorcycle rock. A helmet may be required, but it won’t protect you.

The Vandals – Peace Thru Vandalism

In which sacred cows—Elvis, your mother—are grilled up over a flame of particularly crude racket. “Anarchy Burger” continues to reign as perhaps the truest expression of the “a” word in the genre. I don’t remember Crass ever telling people to piss on cheese.

Social Distortion – Mommy’s Little Monster

Burgeoning roots punk. Very heart-on-sleeve. The whiskey-worn vocals of a young Mike Ness bring it all home, even when he’s yawing about the same societal norms other bands have taken to task. The yearning title track should have been an FM radio hit.

GG Allin & the Jabbers – Always Was, Is And Always Shall Be

GG was way tuneful before he was King Gross Out, and Always Was is that fact’s invigorating testament. On the real: “I Need Adventure” and “Unpredictable” are at least as good as better than anything the Dictators ever did.

Black Randy & the Metrosquad – Pass the Dust, I Think I’m Bowie

Notorious San Fran rabble rouser tries injecting some tight-ass funk into his new wave, which only serves to underscore the drugginess his Pass the Dust outlines. You’ll feel like you’ve been awake all night after listening for only three minutes.

Bad Religion – Suffer

Watershed moment for the “modern” sound of punk. Perfect harmonizing in place of snot, erudite observation in place of unfiltered rage. Makes a great case for book learnin’. And you can still probably gleam the cube to most of this ish! Thrash on, library card bros!

Rosemary’s Babies – Talking to the Dead

One of the few horror punk band outside the Misfits worth serious investment. They reject work, school, and religion in favor of bondage, necrophilia, and blood lust—and you believe them. May not actually be possessed, but certainly disturbed.

Antidote – Thou Shalt Not Kill

Just the most livid New York hardcore. Eight songs, nine minutes, but hey, it’s not a contest. However long this is, you won’t forget the palpable sensation that Antidote are not fucking around. See the militant and white hot “Something Must Be Done” for absolute proof.

Suicidal Tendencies – Suicidal Tendencies

Best song protesting romance (“Won’t Fall In Love Today”). Best song protesting the mental health system (“Institutionalized”). Best censorship (“I Shot Reagan” altered to “I Shot The Devil”). So furious you can’t even follow it at times but completely delicious.

Dwarves – Blood Guts & Pussy

The Dwarves began as trash punk dedicated to satisfying the id. You can call it low brow, you can call it depraved, but you can’t call it boring and you sure can’t call it weak. Filthy sex maniacs obsessed with prescription drugs need a soundtrack too.

Sonics – Here Are The Sonics

Quoting myself again: “America’s first true punk band, the Sonics played…so loudly [that] every single instrument on their records had a beautiful natural distortion…did any other pre-Iggy white guy scream as satisfyingly as lead Sonic Gerry Roslie? You can feel [him] in your tailbone.”

Badtown Boys – Date With Death

The B Boys were ahead of the ’90s pop punk pack by about five years. They’re big in Germany, but they should be even bigger here. Screeching Weasel without the guilt? Sure. “Dee Dee Took The Subway” is oddly romantic for a song about a junkie on mass transit.

McLusky – McLusky Do Dallas

All the angry punk bands of the Bush years were actually just one band in Wales. Overflowing with bile, jagged hooks, and a decidedly sour charisma. Still, they could be pretty cheeky sometimes–see “The World Loves Us And Is Our Bitch.”

The Cornuzine Interviews: Lee Ving

Cornuzine [korn-yew-zeen] -noun. 1. A subpar Internet music magazine created by JG2 in 1999; folded 2003. 2. The best-selling foot ointment in outer Uzbekistan.

I think the intro I originally wrote for this piece is pretty solid, so I’m gonna leave it be. As for the interview itself, my only regret is not pressing Lee harder about the failure of the MD.45 project. What can I say? I was star-struck (in my world, this guy is like Bruce Willis).



Countless rumors surround Lee Ving, mysterious frontman for punk agitators Fear. Is he the bastard son of one of the Bowery Boys? Did he actually get his start as a singing waiter? Did he really schtup Madeline Kahn on the set of Clue? None of that came up in our interview. Instead, I focused on the real issues – Flea, beer, and that infamous appearance on “Saturday Night Live.”

JAMES GREENE, JR: I seem to recall reading something recently about a FEAR box set. Is this a reality or just a figment of my imagination? At any rate, what is the current state of Fear?

LEE VING: Box set in progress, state of Fear very strong.

JG2: Is the box set going to contain any Fear rarities, like “Hank Williams Was Queer?”

LV: No. All Barbara Streisand tunes.

JG2: A-ha. Many interesting characters have passed through the ranks of Fear. One such character was Flea. How exactly did that happen?

LV: By luck.

JG2: Did it have anything to do with the film you two made, Dudes?

LV: No.

JG2: Do you still keep in touch with him?

LV: Yes.

JG2: It’s my understanding that you played some acoustic gigs recently. Have you ever considered doing a whole acoustic solo record?

LV: Yes, [that’s] in the works.

JG2: What do you make of this whole Dead Kennedys fracas?

LV: Who are they? What fracas?

JG2: Who are the Dead Kennedys? Oh, c’mon, Mr. Ving, surely you jest.

LV: I’m into music, not Frisco scene rabble.

JG2: Ouch. You did a record with Dave Mustaine a few years back called MD.45. How did that come about? Was it ever intended to be more than a side project?

LV: No.

JG2: Do I sense some animosity here?

LV: No, Capital [Records] just made sure the project failed.

bocardJG2: I’ve been trying to avoid the cliché Fear questions, but after all these years, I am still fascinated by your appearance on “Saturday Night Live.” They show so many embarrassing and controversial moments from other episodes in syndication constantly, yet Fear’s wild performance they never rebroadcast. Why is that? I mean, did Lorne Michaels just throw the tapes away or something? Is NBC just a bunch of pricks?

LV: They are timid, lacking humor, and scared of their own shadows.

JG2: I agree. Mr. Ving, you like the beer. Is there any particular brand you just can’t stomach?

LV: Miller.

JG2: Have you seen Chuck Biscuits lately? No one seems to know where he is.

LV: I don”t know that name.

JG2: Chuck Biscuits…he was in Black Flag, D.O.A., uh, FEAR at one point, I believe…anyway, Gibby Haynes once stated, “It’s better to regret something you have done than something you haven’t done.” Would you agree with this philosophy?

LV: No.

JG2: Alrighty! Are there any musicians out there today that you’d really like to collaborate with?

LV: Yes. Chick Corea, Billy Cobham, and Stanley Clark.

JG2: Man, that would be some fucked up shit right there. Chick Corea alone…well, Mr. Ving, thanks for your time.

LV: All the best, man. Jazz forever.

– Cornuzine.com, 2000