Fast Music in a Slow Town
(Safety Net Records & Tapes)
The Essentials were part of the early South Florida punk explosion of the late '70s and early '80s. And this EP, Fast Music in a Slow Town, is a sweet blend of straight-up punk rock with touches of hardcore and rockabilly. Fans of early Florida punk like the Reactions, the Eat, and Charlie Pickett and the Eggs will surely dig this.
While the main Essential member was Walter Cz on guitar and vocals, many other players served time with the band. As best as I can tell, the first edition of The Essentials occurred with some want ad replies that led to guitarist Phil Stingray, bassist Lois Lane and drummer John "Sticks" Galway joining for a better part of 1981.
Galway would be replaced by then long-haired hippie Pete Moss, who would go on as a dear multi-instrumentalist in many area bands before passing away in 1997. Stingray would leave the second guitar slot vacant. And Steve "Sincere" Anthony plucked the bass at least long enough to record Fast Music in a Slow Town. He'd later be replaced by Henry Sarria.
Opener "Turn Off Your Radio" is a great Jam-esque punk tune crying foul over the neverending evils of commercial radio, a struggle that still hasn't ended. The A-side closes with the raucous punker "I Don't Get" and it is a canonic number in the tradition of teen angst.
Side B opens with the swamp country song "Johnny," which follows the same unfortunate pattern that would befall the Crumbs many years later with their Low and Behold LP -- too punk for the rockers and too rock for the punkers. Though a local favorite, you'll find it's a common gripe among South Florida outsiders. Me? I like it. The side closes with the return-to-HC-punkdom "It's Essential," which totally lives up to its name.
Between January and June of 1982, Fast Music in a Slow Town was recorded at Sync Studios and produced by big daddy Charlie Pickett with engineers Andy Clark and Frank Falestra. And an interesting side note: After he caught them live, Miami Herald critic Bill Ashton started Safety Net Records & Tapes for the sole purpose of releasing this EP. And if it's that good, you should get a copy, right? Download it from our good Swedish friends over at Killed By Death Records.
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Or if you want a taste before committing to the whole four tracks, check out the free MP3 below.
Download: The Essentials' "Turn Off Your Radio"