PAGANS - The Pink Album Plus LP
The Pagans started playing punk rock before anyone was sure what it was (or what to call it), and up until the band's final collective breath, they played furious, into-the-wind rock & roll with a fury and snarling abandon that was a wonder to behold. In 1982, after the first edition of the band had fallen apart, Mike Hudson the band's singer, rhythm guitarist, and frontal lobe, decided to give the Pagans another try, and this time around the band wanted to document themselves with an actual album, rather than the 7" discs and compilation cuts that carried their previous recordings. Possessing more ambition than ready cash, the band pulled together a long-player from tunes recorded at live shows and during lo-fi sessions held in Hudson's basement (with everything recorded live to two-track through a PA mixer). The resulting LP, The Pink Album, issued in a run of 500 copies, became a collector's item overnight, and The Pink Album...Plus not only makes the album readily available to interested parties outside the Pagans' immediate cult for the first time, but adds a whopping 14 bonus cuts to the original LP's dozen -- five 1983 outtakes from the recordings that became The Pink Album and nine live songs and studio outtakes from the first lineup's 1978-1979 heyday. The Pagans sound was full-on Midwestern old school punk at its most potent, with Hudson displaying an unusually intelligent degree of snarl and guitarist Mike Metoff (aka Tommy Gun) showing how to split the difference between Ramones-style downstroke and hard rock flash; imagine what fellow Clevelanders the Dead Boys would have been like with a less polished production, fewer lapses in judgment, and a lot more speed and you're roaring down the Pagans' lost highway. The original album's tracks stand up well (the sequence has been juggled a bit, but everything's here), with the basement cuts boasting a raw, abrasive guitar sound that could strip the paint from your walls, while the bonus cuts tack on raving versions of Cle-punk classics "Street Where Nobody Lives," "What's This Shit Called Love," and "Six and Change" (a great tune despite its highly questionable sexual politics). Nearly 20 years after it was first released, The Pink Album...Plus proves the Pagans are still more than capable of scaring your neighbors and impressing your friends -- and that's high praise indeed.