While the serious end of the new wave was busy rewriting the rules of the game, this motley crew of fanzine writers, Marines and Richard Meltzer fans (the label’s name is a tribute to his 1972 book) were goofing around the college town of Bloomington, Indiana, issuing records of their silly songs. The music on the EPs (all 7-inch singles, each containing four to seven short tunes like “Pumpin’ to Playboy,” “Human Garbage Disposal,” “Gimme Back My Foreskin” and “Tie Me Up”) is fresh-faced fratboy guitar pop going on garage rock, but the alternately obnoxious/funny lyrics are emblematic of the mentality that continues to prevail in much of the alternative rock world. (Incidentally, World Tour is “Live — in the studio.”)
By the time of the fourth EP (which includes a mistitled cover of the Pistols’ “Did You No Wrong”), the Gizmos had undergone a number of lineup changes and were nearing a final incarnation with guitarist/singer Dale Lawrence (later a pure-pop hero in the Vulgar Boatmen) writing most of the songs. On their side of Hoosier Hysteria, shared with another Bloomington quartet, the Gizmos play no-frills rock’n’roll that tears down “Progressive Rock” and pokes tasteless fun at “Dead Astronauts.” Closing out with a punked-up version of Al Green’s “Take Me to the River” (T. Heads had already been there), the Gizmos bade farewell.
Years later, original Gizmos vocalist Ken Highland (a Marine who had to leave the band when he was stationed in Maryland) returned to vinyl duty in Massachusetts. Singing and playing original retro-garage rockers with shifting sidemen on an album he shares with a related ’60sish pop- rock group called the Exploding Pidgins, Highland displays the same unfettered enthusiasm as ever — and a welcome adult mentality.