Best Punk-Rock History Lesson

Killed by Florida

"I gave you Quaaludes/I held your cock/We spoke in diphthongs/ Clubnite!" Update the drug of choice in this bitter early Eighties anthem from West Palm Beach punkettes Sheer Smegma, and it's clear some things haven't changed in South Florida's nightclub scene. "Clubnite" is just one of dozens of singles released by Floridian punk outfits in the darkest days of the Reagan era, artifacts from a time when looking weird and sounding weirder were solid bets for getting your ass kicked, rather than being a good musical career move. Some mysterious soul over at the La Republica Libertariano de Florida label (don't bother looking for a phone number) has thoughtfully gathered up twenty of these forgotten obscurities, blown the dust from their grooves, and lovingly pressed them up as a bootleg album under the appropriate moniker Killed by Florida. Appropriate because, with the notable exception of the Eat and the Trash Monkeys (whose members can still be found haunting the stage at Churchill's) and Charlie Pickett (last spotted practicing -- ahem -- law), most of the bands compiled here literally have been destroyed by their home state, their members missing in action. But boy did they know how to kick up a racket. Whether you hear the Front's "Immigration Report" as a finely nuanced satire on the Mariel boatlift or as puerile thrashing; whether you hear the Essential's "Turn Off Your Radio" as a trenchant critique of blandness on the FM dial or as an anguished cry for a skilled mental-health professional, it's hard not to want to throw on a battered leather jacket and hit the pit -- at least for old time's sake.

 
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