Led by singer/guitarist Chris Doherty, Boston’s greatest beer-soaked contribution to the skate-punk genre began as a faster’n’louder hardcore trio, with seven sketchy smears (e.g., “Snob,” “Kill a Commie” and “Rabies”) averaging under a minute each on a 1982 scene compilation. A breakup (during which Doherty played in Jerry’s Kids), lineup changes and a handful of singles and EPs followed, then Another Wasted Night. Cogent power and a notable melodic sense marks the quartet as a superior breed of punk. Doherty’s Lemmylike shriek is a fiendish attribute, as is Chuck Stilphen’s occasional blitzkrieg solos. “Skate to Hell” is a rallying cry for skateboarders; the other originals are convincing thrash. While the decision to cut a slow but incompetently irreverent cover of ‘Til Tuesday’s “Voices Carry” (complete with synthesizer riff) probably had more to do with local band politics than musical taste, it’s still a good giggle. Both the cassette and CD add bonus tracks. (The green-vinyl P.M.R.C. EP — which features a priceless cover photo of Doherty and ‘Til Tuesday’s Aimee Mann together — contains two versions of “Voices Carry,” plus “Skate Hate” and “Protect & Serve.”)
You Got It finds an overhauled four-piece again celebrating Budweiser and boards with ace playing and a stringent mid-tempo punk sound. (Kudos to lead guitarist Fritz Erickson.) The anthemic “We’ll Give It to You” and “Born to Rock” are blistering statements (skatements?) of teen party solidarity; “L.D.S.B.” (“let’s drink some beer”) typifies the band’s commitment to hedonistic irresponsibility.
The casual-sounding five-song I81B4U offers yet another homage to beer (“Bartender”), its side effects (“Lost Chapter”) and sex (“Put Her on Top”) all produced with a dull meta-metallic roar by Daniel Rey; meanwhile, a bratty protest against “Rent” returns to the band’s punky roots.
Claiming “I’m Still Young” with little conviction, Gang Green skates into a new stage of life on the roaringly dynamic Older… (the punny cover art completes the ellipsis with the inevitable Budweiser), a great leap forward by these aging veterans. Driven by the rhythm section’s charging gallop, Doherty’s frantic shouts and Erickson’s full-throttle arena-scale guitar lift the quartet out of small-scale adolescent punk to embrace metal, speed-rock and regular ol’ hard rock. While “Church of Fun” and the acoustic/orchestrated power “Ballad,” which closes the LP on an absurdly funny note (actually, it’s D), restate old values, other songs acknowledge other subject matter.
The louder-than-bombs Can’t Live Without It (no points for guessing what the title might refer to: these guys have long since raised their obsession with beer to a total lifestyle) was recorded live in London at the beginning of 1990. Covering such classics as “We’ll Give It to You,” “Voices Carry” and “Rabies” with clear, dynamic sound, the fifteen-track onslaught is a breathless power surge that could probably pulverize concrete.
Leaving Gang Green behind, guitarist Chuck Stilphen and his bass-wielding brother Glen took a decisive step across the metal line and formed Mallet-Head with singer Morgan Keating and a drummer. Buoyed by Chuck’s effective production and the occasionally clever lyrics (“It Was a Blasphemy, Was It a Blast for You?”), Mallet-Head is crisp and economical speed metal that makes its entrance with a brief dub reggae instrumental. (The cassette adds two bonus tracks.)
Changing drummers, Mallet-Head slowed the pace and thickened up the instrumental tone to become bullshitless Cult-like hard-rockers on the solidly enjoyable Yeah Yeah Yeah. Keating’s commanding vocals fit the part, and Stilphen’s guitar work is strictly ’70s raunch, not ’80s hot-finger blur. Packing memorable melody hooks into straightforward numbers like “One Good Reason” and “Rolling Thunder,” the quartet captures the old bands’ surging spirit as much as their exciting sound.