Although originally from Cleveland, the Dead Boys earned their lasting international reputation in New York starting in early ’77 by outpunking everyone else on the Bowery circuit. Having absorbed what had already happened in England (the Sex Pistols, Damned) and America (the Stooges), the Dead Boys took it a dozen steps further, uncovering new levels of violence, nihilism, masochism and vulgarity. Their two studio albums have aged well and have served as guideposts to an entire new generation of fans and bands.
Young Loud and Snotty, one of the earliest punk albums released on a US label, benefits from the production skill of Genya Ravan, who made it loud and raw — an onslaught of sizzling guitars and Stiv Bators’ sneering whine. Classic tracks include rude originals like “Sonic Reducer,” “All This and More” and “Caught with the Meat in Your Mouth,” as well as a dynamic rendition of the Syndicate of Sound’s archetypal “Hey Little Girl.” (Twelve years after the fact, someone came across a cassette of rough mixes for the LP and, adding a live Stooges cover, issued it as the legally dubious Younger, Louder and Snottier.)
We Have Come for Your Children, produced by the late Felix Pappalardi, has inferior sound, but equally strong playing. The material suffers from second-LP drought and an onset of self-parodic punk typecasting, leading to such dumb tunes as “Flame Thrower Love,” the topical “Son of Sam” and “(I Don’t Wanna Be No) Catholic Boy.” The record’s best track is the reflective “Ain’t It Fun,” co-written by guitarist Cheetah Chrome and Cleveland legend Peter Laughner.
Night of the Living Dead Boys was recorded live at CBGB in New York in 1979, and captures the end-time band flailing through classic numbers in ragged-but-right fashion. Although the mix is trebly and muddled (a rare combination), this is still a punk documentary of some merit.
The Dead Boys — Bators, Chrome, Johnny Blitz and Jeff Magnum — reformed in 1987 and issued a single, “All the Way Down (Poison Lady).” Following his years in Lords of the New Church, Stiv recorded a 1988 single with the Lyres. The Dead Boys’ saga ended forever in June 1990, when Stiv died of automobile injuries in Paris.