A Diet for the Worms is hysterically funny New York hardcore with a tasteless baby-being-delivered cover and such rockin’ gutbusters as “Shitlist,” “Vegetarian at a Barbeque,” “Life Ain’t No Bowl of Brady Bunch” and the classic “John Hinckley Jr. (What Has Jodie Done to You?).” The band (not to be confused with a similarly named Elliott Sharp outfit of the ’80s or a lower-cased ism that appeared in New York in 2006) plays at easily followable speed and has a reasonably articulate bellower in Jism, who gives the longwinded lyrics (mostly his) appropriate exercise. A good, scatological laugh for the vulgar at heart.
On Constantinople, Jism and his band connect with their roots, slam-dunking songs by the Residents and the Fugs with reverent but rowdy enthusiasm. Rather than hardcore, Ism here plays restrained rock with piano and relative subtlety. Judging by this EP, Ism is developing a novel time warp, mixing various breeds of outrage into a hybrid all its own.
The post-Constantinople tracks (several of them previously unissued) on the self-issued I Think I Love You retrospective confirm Ism’s singularity, but the (intentionally) unfinished sound of the vaguely pomp-rock “Excerpt From Sermon for the Watchdog” and instrumental “Theme” cushions their force a little too much. Far better are items reclaimed from the band’s many compilation contributions (notably Jism’s ode to political activism, “Nixon Now More Than Ever”) and the long-lost first single, a Flipper-gum version of the Partridge Family “classic” that gives the collection its title — not to mention the inspiration for the jocularly offensive cover.