Wide Awake

(No Nostalgia)

Five girls’ names show up on 20 titles by a Florida-cum-Midwest art-school collective. Many more appear in the lyrics, where nothing much happens. Lots of car songs, droning with late-night country-drive rhythms—think “State Trooper,” off Nebraska. The lack of action occurs on porches and driveways, on business trips, at the railway station or airport, next to the phone. Everybody’s leavin’ town. On this comp spanning three ’90s albums plus, the title track, about hearing “Mary Jane” on Chicago’s WXRT, is even better than “Mary Jane” itself. Rock-critic-fans-to-regular-fans ratio: Extremely high.


Street Fighting Reptile

(Steel Cage)

Responsible for 1977’s definitive “Rock and Roll Critic” 45, then for helping introduce ’60s garage and ’70s metal to L.A. hardcore in Vox Pop, the Angry Samoans, and Powertrip, the lizardlike Dahl has spent the past 13 years putting out unheard albums in Arizona. His latest is way-glam: back-alley transsexual vampires all dragged up with nowhere to go, Dolls-style girl-group backup, updated “Ballad of Mott the Hoople.” “Road to Madrid” hints at the beatnik-tapestry beauty of Peter Laughner toasting Baudelaire; the title bruiser has a hot fake Nugent riff. And there’s a blackout song.


Untold Rock Stories

(Rev-Ola import)

Bored decadence in suburbia—latchkey nubiles home alone, headmasters, neo-Nazis, and (in “Blackout”!) pedophilia at a Boy Scout jamboree. Spoiled Anglophiles, assisted by Kim Fowley, cutting demos for Mercury and Elektra in ’70s L.A. Between the icky cover versions (Frankie Valli, Judy Garland, “Born Free”), baroque post-10cc/pre-XTC keyboard and guitar frills match the gloriously prissy Aryan-eunuch-on-helium Russell Mael mimicry of sailor-suit-wearing Danny Wilde, who later wrote the theme for Friends. The 1976 stuff’s hard-rock concision is more akin to passing glitter than impending powerpop; by 1978, there’s more meat but less personality. So maybe punk scared them.

Archive Highlights