About Us

There is a good chance you found us accidentally by using the word “taint” in your search (If you found us on purpose, you deserve our accolades). Of course we don’t know what you were looking for, but you stumbled on a damn cool project. Look around; let us help send you on a musical journey. Here you will find a number of album reviews from the strange and extreme to the tame and mainstream. Our reviewers are a bunch of obsessive miscreants. Most of us are avid music collectors and have been involved in the music world for decades. A couple of us have been in or are still in bands.

There are no rules on Tickle Your Taint Blog. Our reviewers might make you laugh, or piss you off; both results are legitimate. One reviewer might write a glowing review of an album another might tear it apart. We may end up adopting a single review system, such as five stars, or each reviewer may use his own or none at all. We may have a new review every week or we could end up with one every six months. This blog exists as a social experiment to build community among a diverse group of music maniacs – our reviewers and hopefully you. Pull down your knickers, lube up and join us in tickling yours and our taints.

If you are in a band, have released a physical (rather than an MP3) CD or record, and would like us to review your efforts, contact us at tickleyourtaint@yahoo.com

Monday, January 30, 2012

Billy Joel – Glass Houses

(Columbia 1980)

 By Null
All of this happened before I turned 10 years old.

I grew up on a dairy farm in the Michigan outback. We were all farm kids who got by with little money and survived harsh winters. Other than 70’s rock radio and country music stations, I can explicitly remember all the recorded music we had in the house:

(8-track tapes)
Barbara Mandrell – Moods (including “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed”)
Kenny Rogers – Greatest Hits
Blondie – Greatest Hits
Willie Nelson – Honeysuckle Rose
Cheech & Chong – Greatest Hits
Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band – Against the Wind
(vinyl LPs)
Kiss – Alive
Kiss - Dynasty
All the Kiss “solo” Albums
Pat Benatar – Crimes of Passion
Journey – Infinity
Journey – Who’s Crying Now
Southern Fried Rock (various artists)
A few K-Tel records with various hits of the day.

I didn’t buy any of these records. They just appeared in the farm house via my mother, or more likely, my older step-brother.

I remember these albums because I would listen to them all repeatedly. Other than the radio, this is all we had. Whether or not I liked them remains a moot point, however, it is easy for me to see now that this collection of albums laid the foundation for the music that I would love in my adult life. For instance, I still hear echoes of Pat Benatar in Judas Priest and Bob Seger in Uncle Tupelo. Trust me, those connections are there. Now, this was all in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I realized that I never really liked Kiss after I discovered they weren’t actually superheroes. Yet, my love for Pat Benatar, Kenny Rogers, and Bob Seger’s Against the Wind continues to this day.

One day my older step-brother, who only lived with us for a few years, produced a briefcase when we were sitting in the attic. He said he had “found it,” which I understood to mean he had stolen it from someone. It was an old briefcase that housed cassette tapes. Apparently, he and his friends had already scoured its contents and he was no longer interested in it, so he said I could have it. I didn’t have any cassette tapes to put in it as I was spending most of my meager allowance on the 75 cent Conan the Barbarian comic books that came out every month. My step-brother then said there were a few cassettes in the case that none of his friends wanted, and he walked out of the room.

Inside the case were three cassette tapes: Billy Joel’s The Stranger (1977), 52nd Street (1978), and Glass Houses (1980). I devoured these cassettes with gusto. Now remember, these albums were pretty big hits, but these were also records by a very different Billy Joel than we became familiar with in the mid-to-late 1980s. These preceded “Uptown Girl,” which, by the way, was the very first 7” vinyl I ever bought with my own money.

I was getting to the age where I was beginning to question the male role models in my life, and I was beginning to feel, well, kind of pissed off at the bullshit social clicks that were beginning to form in my elementary school, an elementary school filled with farm kids, and consisted of one hallway. I think the whole school was about as big as our barn, and we had more dairy cows than the school had students. By the time I reached the 5th grade, I had been in love with Chris McKenzie since Kindergarten.  All she ever did was kick me in the ribs, despite my unwavering devotion. There was also the constant fear of my step-fathers fists. I was getting pissed at “the system” but I really didn’t know what the system was. I did know I was at odds with my future. I wanted to go to Hollywood and make important movies like “E.T.” This is what I thought at the time anyway. My life long struggle with the world had only just begun.

Somehow, Billy Joel, with his big Italian afro and hound dog face, articulated these feelings. I mean, he wasn’t much to look at, and I perceived him as an underdog like myself. And he seemed to come from an entirely different world: New York City. His songs seemed filled with sexual frustration and the gritty streets of New York, a part of a much greater world to which I had no access. He also sang about smoky Italian restaurants and being in love with beautiful girls over spaghetti dinners. He was critical of Catholics, “Only the Good Die Young,” and I think he also laid the foundation for the future punk rocker I would become. His songs were also filled with nostalgia for people that were, “Movin’ Out,” as he was “The Stranger.”

These records fueled my imagination. I probably listened to Glass Houses more than the others, as it had the killer track, “You May Be Right,” which I felt a certain kinship with: “You may be right / I may be crazy / But it just may be a lunatic you're looking for / Turn out the light / Don't try to save me / You may be wrong / for all I know But you may be right.” I though, “you know what, fuck Chris McKenzie, fuck the farm, fuck these masculine role models.” Maybe they are right. Maybe I am crazy. Fuck it, I am going to be who I am. I am going to have this life and nobody is going to save me. When the cops come to get me, at least Billy Joel will have my back. Later, that week, during lunch at our little school, I grabbed the mustard and ketchup bottles and squirted the condiments all over the winter coats that hung in a line against one wall of the classroom. Fuck ‘em. I was never able to articulate a reason for this action to the teacher. She may be right. I just may be the lunatic she’s looking for.

The other track that was pivotal to my awareness of my isolation was “Sometimes a Fantasy.” We would get up in the morning and milk the cows. Then we would go inside and mother would put empty Wonder Bread bags on our socked feet before we slipped them into our moon boots to fend off the bitter cold Michigan winters. The school bus would come pick us up and we would drive all over the country side picking up farm kids. It would still be pitch black outside as the bus shook and rattled down gravel country roads.

Then something revolutionary happened. We got a radio in the school bus. With my furrowed brow I would sit in the bus and hear “Centerfold” by the J. Gelis Band. However, there was another track that I would hear repeated on the bus. I didn’t know who it was but it evoked a sensual fantasy in that freezing and rattling yellow contraption. The song was “For Your Eyes Only” by Sheena Easton. (It was the theme song to a James Bond movie of the same name. But I never cared for James Bond movies). I didn’t know who Sheena Easton was at the time, but this song always make me curl up and close my eyes and I would fantasize about vague shadows and silhouettes of the opposite sex. Years later, I realized the opening credits to this Bond film were startlingly similar to my school bus fantasies. It wasn’t necessarily sexual, but more an elixir for pre-teen loneliness. When the song ended, I would wake back up to my freezing and pissed off reality. I could hear Billy Joel saying, “Sometimes a fantasy…is all you need.”

To this day, I love the warm analog sound of these three Billy Joel albums. I still think his band at the time was pretty great. The sound still reminds me of turning my back on bitter cold and despondent world. In these albums I hear a longing for unrequited love, romance, sexual frustration, and a big fuck you to the world. I don’t know what other people hear in these albums. I have a friend that can’t stand Billy Joel, and I understand – Billy Joel is a weird turtle / hound dog looking man with a particular delivery. However, I still think the albums are fucking great and despite what Billy Joel became, I still have his back, as he was the only one who had mine in those early years.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Bright as Night Records Comp 2 -The Time Vacuum (2011)

By Jimmy (Explosive Diarrhea) B.

Recently Jason from Bright as Night Records (BNR) contacted me to ask me if I would like to review the labels latest compilation release. Naturally, I said yes, it was after all free swag. And, I am a sucker for underground music and do it yourself projects. The goal of BNR is to bring unknown bands out from their basements and practice spaces and into your ears. I am here to help. In the review that follows, I will point out my favorite tracks and direct you to a place where you can hear more from the bands.

There is a little something on this release for everyone or a lot of something if you are an eclectic music listener. The music on this release runs the gamut from folk rock to post-rock to thrash metal. If I counted correctly there are nineteen different bands on this 22 track record. Some of these bands either share my home base of Portland, OR, or have a Portland connection. I was familiar with most of these local bands already. My hearing is probably colored by this phonic history, because half of my favorite tracks have a Portland connection. My favorite tracks are by the Vanishing Kids, Dark Farmers, Members of the Press, Canyons of Static and Gnome Sorcery Federation.

Fellow music reviewer, Dave, introduced me to the Vanishing Kids a few years ago. They are fucking awesome, and their two tracks are hands down my favorites on the CD. The track titled, The Unlit Path, presents a different style for the V. Kids. Normally when I listen to the Kids I sense a little bit of a Cure vibe from them. Not on this comp. The track entitled, "The Unlit Path" is harder and more progressive than most of their songs. Fucking awesome! The second Vanishing Kids track, "Mother Earth", showcases the voice of their wonderful and powerful singer. I saw the Vanishing Kids live a few times in Portland, and I am convinced that they had (before relocating to Wisconsin) not only the best singer in the Pacific Northwest, but one of the best anywhere.

Vanishing Kids: Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/vanishingkids

Another stand out track is “Night of the Long Knives” by Dark Farmers. This track reminds me a little bit of Russian Circles, whom I love. I must get a full length release from this band—they need a record deal.

Dark Farmers: Check them out at: http://www.myspace.com/darkfarmers

I am having a hard time typing while picking my jaw up off the floor. Canyons of Static are fucking awesome. A few years ago I went to see New Model Army with Mr. and Mrs. SoDak. The opening band was called Vale. I don’t expect you to have heard of them, and I apologize for the obscure reference, but I love Vale. Canyons of Static have that same understated shoegaze sound that I love in Vale, but with a bit of postrock packaging.

Give them a listen: http://www.myspace.com/canyonsofstatic/music

The Members of the Press track is not for everyone, particularly those who feel that music begins and ends with guitar solos. Members of the Press are a three piece with two basses and a drummer. As you would expect from two basses this track is mega-heavy and is VERY interesting and experimental. I realize this is yet another obscure musical reference, but the sludginess (and only the sludginess, the styles of the bands are very different) of Members of the Press reminds me of Beasts of the Field.

Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/membersofthepress

Before attempting to describe the Gnome Sorcery Federation track, I must disclose that the guitar player for the Gnomes is Tickle Your Taint’s own reviewer, Dave. I admit to being biased towards this band. That being said, holy shit these fuckers are nerdy—gloriously nerdy and awesome. Only a group of nerds would have the word gnome in their name and have D and D lyrics. My love of all things Dave and dislike of nerdy pursuits aside, this track is odd, but rocking. There are enough tempo changes to keep things interesting. Also the Gnomes have, for lack of a better term, a democratic sound. They are either a band of lead musicians—lead bass, lead guitar, lead drums, etc—or they are a band consisting of shy nerds who want to avoid stepping forward into the light and taking control.

GSF: http://www.myspace.com/thegsf

Truthfully, I expected to be disappointed by this compilation, like I have been of so many others in the past. Particularly bad are all those fucking tribute comps. I have taken to copying the one or two good songs from comps and saving them to my computer and throwing out the discs, but that is another topic for another day. The BNR comp contains several songs that I love, many more that I like, only two that I really do not care for. The Bright as Night Records Comp 2 is a CD that I am going to keep around and display proudly. I suspect that there are a few bands on the comp that will go on to get record deals, and only I, and those like me, who had the foresight to get this comp, will have a piece of those artists early histories. We will be able to say, “I knew them when…” and you, my friends, will feel incomplete and jealous. Why put yourself through the pain of feeling inferior on some future date. Friends, you must ensure your future happiness. Contact Bright as Night Records and get this comp.

You can contact them through their myspace page at: http://www.myspace.com/brightasnightrecords

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar

(Atlantic 2011)

Review by Null

The Joy Formidable are a three-piece that hail from Wales. They are some sort of mystic force that permeates the senses with beauty, mystery, and mountains of swirling majestic guitars. This shit was hatched from the Mabinogion, old Welch medieval folktales. There is magic at hand here, and while listening, I sometimes believe in fairies, fairies that listen to Iron Maiden and make love in fields of day-glow green after a good Welch rain shower in spring. It took a few listens to understand the grandiose and sensual beauty of this band. However, after spending some time with them, I simply raise my favorite Welch Ale toward the sky and scream, “Bloody Brilliant!”

Ritzy sings; her voice has an almost bird-like melancholic beauty that is able to pierce the swirling wall of melodic noise, which gives her the power of flight. She also plays guitar with a massive effects board. Rhydian, the bass player, sings sometimes but he mostly lays down the bottom end with classic and catchy, tight bass lines. Matt, the drummer, is the heartbeat of the band who understands both the subtlety of sleep and palpitations that pump blood through this cyclopsian beast of a band. Matt and Rhydian lay down a solid and intense foundation to rock this house of voodoo. Almost every song starts with some oddly familiar guitar-bass-drum combo that promises super melodic guitar pop and, in this respect, the band does indeed deliver. However, this is only the lighting of the fuse, a fuse that is attached to a rocket that ends up swirling into the stratosphere. Stunning. The music The Joy Formidable make is both uplifting and menacing, full of love and anger. I wish I was in this band.

This is how it is:

The album starts off by challenging the listener. It simply opens with the sounds of things being thrown around or knocked about. It is a not-so-subtle warning that artists are at work here. They are about to engage. Then, the first track, “The Everchanging Spectrum of A Lie,” begins to pulse and swell until, almost eight minutes later, it ends in a wall of static and noise that bleeds into distorted laugher that kicks of “The Magnifying Glass,” which is a hard hitting up-tempo rocker. The next song, “I Don’t Want To See You Like This,” begins with Matt’s tight rolling drums fading in. Through the wall of psychedelic, melody driven beauty, Ritzy’s voice exudes both spitting anger and concern but it never loses its sweet melancholia.

At this point I was wondering where these guys were going with this sound. This music seems to exist somewhere between elegant catchy pop songwriting craftsmanship and angelic electric youthful noise. I go crazy for bands that have a strong personality and I am a sucker for melding extreme juxtapositions. Is this music guitar pop, art noise, shoe-gazing, or some sort of Les Thugs hybrid of heavy rock? How does it simultaneously make me feel ecstatic sadness, satisfied yearning, and hope? It makes me feel like it is spring and I am running down the road naked as a child after discovering I am in love with Laura Engels. Am I having an orgasm or silently longing over faded photographs?

As the record proceeds, I was soon to realize that all this is true. No matter what this music makes you feel, every question is answered affirmatively with “yes!”

As the third song ends, I realized The Joy Formidable where just getting started. In the first three songs they are simply mixing the batter, kneading the dough. The ingredients for the wedding cake that would signify the union of Georgia O’Keeffe and Jackson Pollock, of the macro and the micro, the ecstatic and the forlorn was only beginning to take shape.

Then these motherfuckers started to bake.

The following three tracks, “Austere,” “A Heavy Abacus,” and “Whirring” solidified what I had been guessing. This is the best new band I have heard in a long fucking time.

From “A Heavy Abacus”:

Happiness, it won’t last long
And this child behind stores it all
The failed man’s curse and the cost
Of nonchalance…
Now your world is here
Watch it disappear…
Abacus haunting me…
All we have is this chance called memory

Read it again. These are some profound lyrics and the pulsing music quickens the heart as the angelic voice whispers and warns, “Live now, live now. Your only life is fleeting.”

I am 39 years old running naked down the street mourning the unrequited love of Laura Engels.

Then “Whirring” starts, like the others, with a quick elegant hook, Ritzy seems to sing my experience of this music,

This much delight fills columns to new heights
All these things about me, you never can tell
Colors run prime, paint a picture so bright
All these things about me you never can tell
You make me sleep so badly invisible friend

Jesus Christ. This band is singing my life to me. It is at this moment that they became the only band that matters as my life ticks away and I swim in a language unable to accurately convey my love to this painful, beautiful world. The autumn leaves fly like angles, dead outside my window. It is no accident that both magnifying glasses and telescopes are present in the lyrics. This is why I love music.

Of course, I didn’t realize at the time that “Whirring” was going to continue for the next seven minutes splashing paint that signified the fleeting moments in time and space. Just as the song seems to be reaching its climax, it simply moves to another level of intensity, each wave breaking to reveal behind it a greater wave. Somewhere in the onslaught of pounding instruments lay a hidden quite reflection. Moments later, at the exhausted apex, Matt kicks in with his Iron Maiden double-bass drums and supernovas explode in my heart. This, my friend, is fucking music. Best song of the year 2011. Hands down.

At this point the album is only half over. The last half of the album continues to titillate with up-tempo punk chord progressions and mellow dreamscapes filled with Welch fog and Hitchcockian tricks of the eye. Until, the last track, “The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade,” a pulsating beauty of a song, seems to simultaneously exude longing and rebirth, Ritzy promises, “a calm day will come.” Whether this “calm” comes from wisdom or death, I believe she is correct. This band could be the soundtrack to Pangaea breaking up, or falling in love. In truth, it is both.

The Big Roar is The Joy Formidable’s first “proper” album but there are many singles and earlier tracks that one can find on iTunes or whatever, most notably, “Greyhounds In the Slip” is not to be missed. They also do a cover of Roy Orbison! Go get them all to supplement this fucking amazing record. If they had a cult, I would join it. I have been waiting a long time to hear a new band this good that gives an old romantic / materialist like me the soundtrack for understanding that epic tales do not live in some mystic realm but in the magnificence of our own daily lives. The Joy Formidable are not magic rocking fairies in the time of King Arthur but three human beings. That makes me love them even more. A great new band. Wonderful. Turn Up The Love.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Damned- The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Anthology/2CD set

By Anita Papsmear.

I humbly submit this music review, compiled from a pile of sticky notes, 2 books, a helpin’ heapin’ of Papsmear swagger, and several websites. It may seem weird to write a review about a band/release that hit their stride in the late 1970s and early 80s—especially since this seminal punk band had more line-up changes than I can count. But, I ask you, what is more punk rock than that? The Damned, in all its incarnations, are fucking great, and this collection is jam packed with all their hits.

Flashback to 1987, MCA released the lengthy retrospective, The Light at the End of the Tunnel. There aren’t any musical gems missing, all The Damned favorites are here. If you aren’t too familiar with this band, I urge you to pick up this retrospective and listen to all 28 tunes. If you haven’t heard of them, you may want to peruse through your MILF of a mom’s vinyl collection—if she’s as cool as her black t-shirt collection indicates—The Light at the End of the Tunnel might be in there somewhere. Speaking of your mom, there is something on here for everyone. It’s rock and roll spanning approximately 14 years, and it sounds like English rock should sound. Often waxing political, it’s always melodic with an undeniable punk rock sensibility. The only downside to The Light At the End of the Tunnel is that the songs on the discs are not in chronological order. However, like the title suggests, it runs the gamut of emotions—hopeful, playful, and serious. The energy is hard and earnest. I fondly remember The Damned for putting the fun in punk rock. They are the true grandfathers of punk rock. In their native England, The Damned was the first punk rock group to get a song pressed on vinyl (“New Rose,” November 1976; released before the Sex Pistols’s “Anarchy in the UK”), and the first to release a full punk rock album (Damned, Damned, Damned), and one of the first punk bands to tour America. Their first gig was as the opener for the Sex Pistols at London’s 100 Club in July 1976, and they followed the Pistols on their subsequent tour. It is here that the life-long comparisons to the Sex Pistols begin.

I had the privilege of seeing The Damned (1985 if memory serves) in New York City. Dave Vanian, The Damned’s sultry voiced front man, stood out in the crowd, dressed in a vampire cape and donning a white skunk stripe through his black hair. Rumor has it, Dave was recruited into the band after Rat Scabies (Chris Miller) heard him singing at a funeral. Dave was working as a gravedigger at the time. Ah…Rat Scabies—there has been no better name in rock and roll history. Apparently he got his name from a public toilet seat encounter. Just kidding—but that can happen, right?

Dave Vanian was the last to join the group. Brian James, Captain Sensible (Ray Burns), and Mr. Scabies had been together for a couple of gigs already. From 1976 to 1989, members came and went (Dave has been the only mainstay), but the one constant has been the musicianship. Absolutely a joy to see live, their rare combination of punk rock and glam rock influences were mixed with a bit of theater, the likes of which have rarely been seen since. Notably, Brain James started The Damned after leaving the band, S.S. London, which included pre-Clashmen Paul Simonon and Mick Jones. Captain Sensible and Rat Scabies were formerly in Nick Kent’s band, Subterraneans.

All these years later, folks over 40 may be familiar with the band’s name, but only the fervently cool will be able to tell you anything about them. Some folks may remember the outlandish outfits (tutus and boas). Others may simply dismiss The Damned as “just another band out of the London scene that wasn’t the Sex Pistols”—a grave mistake. Let me just say this: The Damned have more musical talent and heart in their stinky little pinkies than the Sex Pistols ever dreamed of having (that is, if they ever dreamed about that). The Damned also came along at a pivotal time in music industry history. Record labels were beginning to move from a point of actually caring about a band and fostering them through their growth, to a fast-cash, quick sell—”the band is disposable”—type mode.

A cherished bit of The Damned in action was caught on film in an episode of The Young Ones, a beloved English comedy series that began in 1982 (“Who likes Neal?”). The episode is entitled, “Nasty Vampire” and is definitely worth a watch. For this episode The Damned perform their classic song, “(Video) Nasty” to go along with characters Mike and Vivian’s video night (“Yes, we got a video!”). You can see for yourself their vivacious appeal. Captain Sensible decked out in his leathers and a red, dare I say, “raspberry” beret. Dave looking gloriously goth in all his blackened robed glory. Absolutely Fabulous fans will dig the early footage of Jennifer Saunders in this episode (“SAFF!”). Interesting tidbits: Jennifer Saunders went on to marry TheYoung Ones star, Adrian Edmundson. By the way, Ab Fab-er Dawn French also appears in an episode of The Young Ones.

Let’s track through the discs of The Light at the End of the Tunnel.

CD #1 – tracks of note:

Track 1: “I Feel Alright” 1977

Nick Lowe produced this remake of The Stooges song. (Lowe produced the entirety of Damned, Damned, Damned). The Damned’s spin on this tune still feels vital. A raucous recantation of getting fucked up on a Saturday night. One of two remakes in this collection, it packs a punch.

Track 2: “Anything” 1986

This is a perfect track and if, by the end, you aren’t into it, you just don’t like rock and roll—and that ain’t right. An anthemic complaint about the state of the nation, The Damned dare to tempt fate:

I tear into my clothes, sacrifice my soul for anything, anything

I gotta clear this town, no sense in hanging around

‘cause anything, anything, anything, is better than this

Unfortunately, we all know the answer—there is always something worse out there. This track comes from later in the band’s evolution and it is solid, catchy, and sinister. The Damned are able to walk the fine line of punk rock and undeniable pop sensibility.

Track 3: “Love Money” 1982

I love the English and I love the way they rock. Yes, singing about beer, economic class, murder, and rotten money are universal themes, but the Brits describe it with more style than most. This tune is a great ditty about making money pedaling the tourist trade on past English horrors. There is even a sample from a real London tour guide embedded within the song.

The victors of opium wars now take their trips and open doors

They stand upon the actual floors

It makes them proud to be around and take their summer piccies

To drink at night in Soho bars and end up feeling sickie

More money, more money….

Track 5: “Plan 9 Channel 7” 1979

An ode to the dark lovely in the movie, “Planet 9 From Outer Space,” this tune is an unexpected pop gem.

Track 6: “Grimly Fiendish” 1985

This is not a Halloween song but not a hallowed season goes by that I don’t have to play this song at least 10 times. It’s undeniably catchy. It’s a melodramatic musical masterpiece made complete with the use of a toy piano—so under used in music these days. This song makes me happier than bats!

Track 7: “Stranger On the Town” 1982

The bass line on this song is amazing and the drums drive the beat right through your chest.

Track 8: “Neat Neat Neat” 1977

One of their earliest singles, this tune epitomizes the energy and vitality of The Damned. It’s perfect, pure punk rock in its earliest conception. It’s fucking awesome and should find its way onto every mixed CD you make from now on.

Track 9: “Alone Again Or” 1986

One of two covers on this compilation, it is a love song. The Damned’s rendition of Love’s “Alone Again Or” is astonishingly warm and compelling. The guitar work is raw yet flawless, even evoking a hint of Flamenco guitar. I have heard another band’s cover of this song, but none, not even the original, compares to this version. Even the hairs on your arms begin to dance once the Mariachi horns begin.

Track 10: “Is It A Dream” 1985

I can’t say enough about this track. The Damned were still doing some of their best work in the mid-1980s. Their mid-80s work is arguably more pop than their earlier work (a few needless guitar solos), but the songs are still solid, the song writing still great.

Track 11: “Smash It Up” 1979

The first half of this tune contains some beautiful guitar work. The second half becomes another great punk rock anthem. Why wasn’t this band bigger? I guess even in those days, cutting yourself on stage and spitting on people to garner attention wins out over actual musical talent.

We’ve been crying now for much too long

and now we’re gonna dance to a different song

Gonna scream and shout ‘til my dying breath

Gonna smash it up ‘til there’s nothing left

Ooh, ooh, smash it up

Smash it up, smash it up.

Track 13: “Curtain Call” 1980

An epic journey ahead of its time. Grasping the shores of ambient soundscapes and gothic subtleties, this 17+ minute song (part of this song is under “hidden track” status) will compel you to listen to every second!

Can you taste the grit between your teeth

The heat of the light

The crack of the whip

The snapping sound of somebody’s nerve

If you pay, you get what you deserve

We’re coming up from the deep

The lizard sheds its skin

Night obliterates the day

And all the fun begins.

CD #2 – Tracks of Note:

Is there a “second disc” prejudice out there? Think back to your double disc sets in your CD collection. Do you have a preference for the first disc over the second? It can happen to anyone. Typically, some of the bigger hits are on the first disc and the rougher, less popular kids are relinquished to disc number two. Much can be said for those number two discs however. Many times, these cuts have a bit more personality. The kind of personality you only get by taking risks and stepping outside the musical box. Much of these things can be said about The Light At the End of the Tunnel’s second offering. In many of these tracks, you can hear the foundation and subsequent evolution of the band and their sound. The second disc is the perfect complement to the genius of the first.

Track 1: “Ignite” 1982

Straight forward rock and roll—catchy!

Track 2: “Help” 1977

Fun, punk-y remake of The Beatles classic tune.

Track 4: “I Just Can’t Be Happy Today” 1979

A prophetic look at mass societal depression and its underlying fears. It is catchy, and it has everything that is good and right in rock and roll.

I just can’t be happy today

I just can’t be happy today

They’re closing the schools

They’re burning the books

The church is in ruins

The priests hang on hooks

The radios on ice

The telly’s been banned

The army’s in power

The devil commands

Illegal to dance forbidden to cry

You do what you’re told and never ask why

Ignore all those fools

They don’t understand we make our own rules

Track 5: “Problem Child” 1977

An adolescent delight. Had I heard this when I was but a young Smear, I would have shit my knickers.

Track 6: “Nasty” 1984

This track has one of my favorite lyrically implied visuals: “I fell in love with a video nasty!” It makes me want to break out my Bedazzler and make my very own “Video Nasty” t-shirt!

Track #7: “Disco Man” 1981

Warm and fast-paced, this ditty is dedicated to the disco-era.

Track #8: “New Rose” 1976

1976’s debut single—it is a hard-driving masterpiece. Taken off the album Damned, Damned, Damned, the initial vinyl 7” single release was backed with their cover of The Beatles, “Help!” This is also the only Damned album to feature the original line-up.

Track 12: “In Dulce Decorum” 1986

A superb anti-war song with a classic Damned sound.

To say in God we trust not for this

Oh the death and glory boys not for this

Where I walk where I see

The haunting flares where my friends bleed

I see the face of the enemy

Of a man or boy who is just like me

Now you’re not there

All the tears we bled

Cut through like winters rain

Can’t you feel the pain

And if I could ever sleep again

I know till the end of time I’d hear

Their screams of pain

Dulce dulce decorum

Track 14: “Eloise” 1986

A hit for The Damned in 1986, it gave the band its biggest bestseller, hitting the UK’s #3 slot on the charts in February of that year. Although the band is spinning toward their demise, it’s a remarkable achievement for a band with so many incarnations.

I hope this review has convinced those who aren’t familiar with The Damned to pick up this anthology and give it a listen. For those of you who are familiar, I hope this review has inspired you to don that black cape, paint a skunk stripe in your hair, and turn it up! The Damned has left a legacy of great punk songs that have not only shed a light on society’s dark shadows but also cast a glimmer of hope for better days ahead.

No tunes on this anthology rated under 3 smears. Almost every tune rates anywhere from 4 to 5 smears. Overall, The Damned’s The Light at the End of the Tunnel rates a 5 out of 5 papsmears.