This aggressively melodic Southern California punk-pop trio got a reputation for its juvenile porn-movie fetishism (the first two albums feature skinflick stars as cover models). But the simple, uptempo music is smarter and catchier than the band’s imagery would suggest, even if the lyrics are stupid as often as they’re clever. Energetic and insistent yet clean and uncluttered (without being didactically straight-edge), Chemical music is hardly unfamiliar or unexpected, but a hi-test sugar rush (not unlike the Descendents’ caffeine crank) that will make latent pogoers snap their rods.
So Sexist! (produced, like Ten-Fold Hate and The Right Thing, by Descendents/All drummer Bill Stevenson) is an understandably uneven debut, divided into a side each of songs written and sung by guitarist Blair Jobe (who left the band after his tunes were recorded) and drummer Dave Nazworthy (late of the Last). Side Blair is fairly unremarkable, but the rawer Side Dave shows some spirit, and kindred spirit Tesco Vee (of Meatmen infamy) shows up to deliver some of his trademark rants.
The more spirited Ten-Fold Hate (with cover star Taija Rae) presents Chemical People as a better-focused trio of bassist Ed Urlik, guitarist Jaime Pina and Nazworthy taking over most of the writing and singing; the songs are concerned with such pet topics as porn (naturally), junk food, VD, Aquaman and Metallica, but there’s also an energetic cover of the Go-Go’s’ “Vacation.” The Right Thing isn’t radically different, but it finds Chemical People drifting dangerously close to the doctrinaire humorlessness of hardcore. Fortunately, the six-song Angels’n’Devils (originally a self-released 7-inch, then a Cruz CD) is a big improvement, with some snappy originals (including a rap tune), a good acoustic number and a surprisingly effective version of Patti Smith’s “Ask the Angels.”
Overdosed consists of the second through fifth of the band’s 7-inch EPs, augmented by one new studio track and three cuts recorded in ’89 at CBGB. That same year, with Jeff Dahl as frontman, the Chemical People transformed into the Chemical Dolls on Sympathy for GG, a one- off 7-inch of two GG Allin covers to benefit the then- imprisoned raver.
Soundtracks consists of instrumental jams the band originally recorded for porn-film soundtracks; the compact pieces range from catchy metal riffs to moodier pieces, but only diehards (of either the band or cheesy cinema) are likely to care.
Pina’s departure left Nazworthy and Urlik to record Chemical People as a duo, overdubbing the guitars themselves with help from Robert Hecker (ex-Redd Kross) while experimenting with a horn section on three tracks (Nazworthy plays tenor sax on two more). The resulting melodic guitar rock has its moments but is almost completely lacking the energy of the band’s prior work.