September 20, 2017 Dead Boys – Still Snotty: Young Loud and Snotty at 40! (Album Review)
Formed in 1976, in Cleveland, Ohio, United States, the Dead Boys is acknowledged as one of the pioneers of American Punk music, along with bracketmates New York Dolls (“Personality Crisis”), The Ramones (“Blitzkrieg Bop”), and Richard Hell & the Voidoids (“Blank Generation”). It was led by the late Punk icon Stiv Bators (lead vocals) with Cheetah Chrome (lead guitar), Johnny Blitz (drummer), Jimmy Zero (rhythm guitar), and Jeff Magnum (bass) until the group’s demise in 1979, with Bators eventually forming in 1981 the successful The Lords of the New Church (“Russian Roulette”).
During their first phase, the Dead Boys got to release two full-length albums, 1977’s Young, Loud and Snotty and the following year’s We Have Come for Your Children; and with songs such as “Sonic Reducer” and “3rd Generation Nation” eventually becoming classic Punk anthems. Then, in the mid-’80s, the Dead Boys reunited for a number of gigs; but because of Bators’ death in 1990, the band splintered again, with the remaining members going on to pursue their respective separate music endeavors. Furthermore, two brief reunions took place in the mid-2000s, but then that was it for the previous decade.
In early 2017, because the Dead Boys’ debut was celebrating its 40 years, Chrome decided to re-form the band with Blitz and new members Jason Kottwitz (guitar), Ricky Rat (bass), and Jason Hout (lead vocals) and toured the album in its entirety. The hi-octane response of the audience to the shows and the memories unleashed by the songs themselves reignited the Dead Boys’ youthful Punk energy, inspiring Chrome and the rest of the band to re-record the album, to give it a fresh and proper take. After all, according to Chrome, “The original album was actually a demo. None of us had been in a studio before, and we figured we would go back in and do it right. So that’s what this is about. It’s not better. It’s just different.”
Released on September 8, 2017, the new album, re-titled as Still Snotty: Young, Loud and Snotty at 40, is indeed a whiff of the youthful angst of Punk and a breath of honed musical maturity. It begins with the anthemic “Sonic Reducer” and is followed by the Punkabilly “All This and More.” Still in a rage but lyrically romantic, “What Love Is” exudes the same ol’ sweet irony and wiry guitar ad-lib. The mood turns a bit darker and ominous with “Not Anymore.” Then there is the angular and slightly funky “Ain’t Nothin’ to Do.”
“Caught with the Meat in Your Mouth” still sounds like a link between snotty Punk and macho Metal, with a spice of Rock-n-Roll thrown in the mix, reminiscent of some of the poppy songs of Mötley Crüe (“Wild Side”), David Lee Roth (“Just like Paradise”), and Skid Row (“Youth Gone Wild”). The ensuing “I Need Lunch” is another moshpit favorite, owing to its power chords and symphonic shots—a sonic style that emerged eventually in the music of subsequent Punk bands like Anti-Nowhere League (“I Hate People”) and Social Distortion (“Moral Threat”) as well as Alternative Rock bands such as Soul Asylum (“Just like Anyone”). Second to the last song, “High Tension Wire” oozes the same sense of urgency and its sonic progressiveness has finally been given the rightful highlight. Finally, the Dead Boys close their “punk de résistance” again with the raucous, breakneck track “Down in Flames.”
Many purists might dismiss the re-recording of the Dead Boys’ classic album as a sellout. However, to the open-minded, which is after all the true spirit of Punk, Still Snotty: Young, Loud and Snotty at 40 is really an act of putting the band’s vision in a better perspective, both in essence and physically in a proper recording studio. The results are favorable. Using their improved hands and mindset in playing and approaching music, Chrome and Blitz and the rest of the gang have even made the Dead Boys’ music sound younger, snottier, and louder!
This is not only for the old Punks. In fact, it is also for all the budding Rockers and hipsters out there in the current scene who are really serious to know how the Punk of old once sounded. It is certainly a sonic expander. CrypticRock gives Still Snotty: Young, Loud and Snotty at 40, 4 out of 5 stars.