The wonderful Chicago-based label HoZac Records has recently released a handful of interesting archival 45 singles. Check ’em out:
In 1975, after the dissolution of the New York Dolls, bassist Arthur “Killer” Kane put together a short-lived group called Killer Kane Band. The band’s sound eschewed the glam rock of Kane’s previous group in favor of a darker, more soulful hard rock/heavy metal. Their sole release appeared in 1976, a three-song EP entitled “Mr. Cool,” which is reissued here. It’s apparent why the ban was short-lived; the songs weren’t that great. Melodically they’re a tight band, but the vocals and lyrics left much to be desired. The title track is a heavy, hard-rocking, slightly psychedelic rock tune that meanders a bit. The flip side fares better; “Longhaired Woman” is a Doors-like rocker, whilst “Don’t Need You” is an upbeat but vicious rock number. Killer Kane Band split shortly after this single’s release, and would be lost to the ages if it weren’t for the Dolls association and that the lead singer is Blackie Lawless, who would in short order form the much better band, W.A.S.P.
Much better is the two-song archival release from Dwight Twilley Band. Both songs have long been considered lost classics among the hardcore Twilley and Power Pop fans. “Firefly,” from 1980, is a fiery little rocker, burning with the same intensity as Elvis Costello and Cheap Trick. An extra treat is the backing vocals from Susan Cowsill. The flip-side, “Living In The City,” is a demo from 1977, featuring Phil Seymour on lead vocals, and it’s a powerful number with a charm that comes bleeding through the poor audio quality. Both nuggets are representative of what made the band great: fun lyrics, catchy melodies, and a cooler-than-thou attitude that never alienates the listener.
A rare treat comes in the form of It’s Exposed, a four-song EP from long-lost Fresno-based punk band The Subtractions. This is what punk rock is and was about: teenage angst, anger, and aggression, in musical form. Lead singer Marcus Marootian sings with the same sort of snot-nosed passion and anger of a Johnny Rotten, Tony Adolescent, or Keith Morris. If you’ve forgotten what it was like to be young and bored in a town away from culture, “Fresno’s Dead” and “Still Sixteen” will ring true, thirty-six years on. “It’s Exposed” and “Social Rules” continue the punk rock machine raging against rebellious streak that makes these four songs so damn wonderful and refreshing.
But the real winner in this cache of releases is Made In Japan. An LA-based band that specialized in extremely poppy Power Pop songs. They had one previous claim to fame, an appearance in the low-budget, rarely seen “punk rock horror movie,” New Year’s Evil. The two songs here, recorded in 1979, are of such high quality one wonders what the hell happened to keep them in the vaults. “Instant Hit” is ironically named; the song about wanting to have a hit single sounds a helluva lot like a song that should have been an instant hit. “You Never Had It So Good” continues the poppy rock fest, with a sweet guitar lick and catchy melody. HoZac’s site teases that there are more Made In Japan hits in the vault. God, I hope so….
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