• Rotters
  • Presumed Dead — In Japan (Baka) 1989 

Blindly idolizing the Sex Pistols et al., Santa Barbara’s Rotters knowingly baited the censors in 1978 with their first 45, “Sit on My Face Stevie Nix” b/w “Amputee,” which garnered considerable press when it was instantly banned from LA record stores and radio. One of the most slavishly imitative tributes to pure ’77 UK punk ever recorded in America, the record features faux-Brit vocalist Nigel Nitro (Mike Rogers) singing “Sit on my faiiice”/”I dowanna be no amputeeyuh.” The Rotters broke up in 1980 but got back together a few years later; 1984 compilation tracks and an unreleased EP of the time evinced no softening of subject matter (“I wanna fuck a new wave slut”/”My penis hurts”). The new lineup was no more nor less contemporaneously punk than the last, although guitarist Phester Swollen (Tom Chartier) had obviously learned a trick or nine in the interim, exploding forth with manic fills and electrocution leads betwixt the music’s rote hardcorisms.

Absent for another five years, the newest Rotters resurfaced, bearing a debut LP that — a full decade after the first single — includes numerous songs from the band’s beginnings. Recorded live-to-4-track in Japan (where the band had reassembled with a local drummer), Presumed Dead is, oddly, even more garagey and sloppy than the early stuff, showcasing a band as carelessly noisy and artlessly annoyed as any in the original (new) wave, elevated by guitar playing so rampant and excessive as to virtually reinvent heavy metal.

[Art Black]