Not many people understand that it’s possible to draw a (relatively) straight line and connect the truly vital exponents of bad-boy rock’n’roll, regardless of spatial-temporal considerations-Presley, Richards and Thunders were all saying the same thing with each curled lip and thrust hip. That belief anchors D Generation’s every-admittedly calculated-move. If the New York quintet sounds like it could have sprung from Max’s Kansas City in 1976 or CBGB in 1982, that’s because its members were there: bassist Howie Pyro can trace his lineage back to the Blessed, a gaggle of high-schoolers that played some of the Big Apple’s earliest punk gigs, while singer Jesse Malin fronted Heart Attack, a seminal band on the nascent hardcore scene.
D Generation’s debut, however, owes more to the traditional values laid down in the golden age of glam-punk than anything else. “Feel Like Suicide” and “Sins of America” could easily pass for long-lost Mott the Hoople recordings, with guitarists Richard Bacchus and Danny Sage tossing off indelibly anthemic riffs with unnerving ease. In a classic meta-rock gambit, the band ties its most memorable melody to “Guitar Mafia,” a sort of auto-tribute that begins with a recorded message of support from longtime champion/Yardbirds producer Giorgio Gomelsky and pivots on the languishing rockers’ lament: “tattoos fade like lovers do.” Rock about rock hasn’t sounded this fresh in years.
The Ric Ocasek-produced No Lunch contains remakes of four songs from D Generation, which makes the improvements in sound, playing and enthusiasm all the more apparent. Timed for optimum impact in the ’96 post-post-punk slipstream, the crisp, tight blast of cosmopolitan tuneage balances the then and the now into an easy font of familiarity that doesn’t sound second-hand. The irritating bonus-track phone call from a relative ends the album on a sour note, but everything up to that point timewarps D Gen into the sweet spot of a promising future.