Other People's Music / EMI, 2000
A dozen or so years ago, when the Internet was still a fairly novel concept and relatively few people knew even the most rudimentary bits of web design, I interviewed Vic Gedris, the Canadian web designer who had assembled the first major directory of punk pages online, World Wide Punk. Vic's efforts were important because he was really one of the first people to show punks that, while the Web still had a reputation for being somewhat prohibitive to non-techies, the same DIY ethic that had defined the 1980s indie underground could be applied to this new medium. The result of Vic's hard work was a sleek, easily navigable directory of bands, zines, labels, and other punk stuff that was, while it lasted, the best punk site online. Still, while I did ask Vic about web design and the Web's place in the punk community, the thing I remember most from the interview (if you're interested, it appears in Sobriquet #8 and Maximum Rocknroll #172) had nothing to do with the Internet. What I still recall was Vic's enthusiasm for the Forgotten Rebels, a Hamilton-based band I hadn't heard of previously. His passion for the Rebels made an impression on me and put the band on the list of bands I kept an eye out for when record shopping. Strangely, despite their popularity, it took me more than a decade (two years of which I spent in a Canadian metropolis) for me to find any of their recordings. Nobodys Hero's, the band's 2000 offering was my formal introduction to this playfully trashy, undeniably catchy outfit and, while I like some of their earlier recordings (In Love With the System or This Ain't Hollywood, for instance) better, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for this sleazy slab of glam-punk, even if the grammar on the cover is painfully inept.* In addition to the band's standard fare of sleaze -- songs about pedophilia ("Hockeynite"), teenage prostitution ("Highschool Hookers"), and, well, let's just say other sexual indiscretions ("Dickwart") -- the Rebels deliver solid covers of the Avengers' "The American in Me" and the Vibrators' "Baby, Baby." While only a handful of songs would qualify as stand-out, radio-friendly tracks, the entire album, as a single work, is remarkably consistent and there really isn't a dud on it.
Track 1. "Hockeynite." A double entendre-laden ("he shoots, he scores!" and "he likes high sticking and body checks") song about a pedophile ("Dirty Daddy") preying on a very young boy ("he likes you 'cause you're nine!"), "Hockeynite" is the most immediately catchy song on the album. There's something so decadently punk about a song that makes you want to sing along and take a shower. Then again, the best black humor should make you feel guilty for laughing . . .
Track 3. "No Place to Hide." The sense of nostalgic urgency this song conjures up is fantastic.
"Wasted." A paean to drinking oneself into a stupor, "Wasted" is basically a sped-up roots rock song with simple, precise drums, chugging guitars and lyrics charged with notes of regret and pained resignation. Not surprisingly, it has a vaguely Social Distortion
-esque quality to it, which is always a good thing.
Track 12. "Baby, Baby." Some songs are just so good that they'd be the highlights of any band's album. "Baby, Baby," like "Teenage Kicks" or "Another Girl, Another Planet," is one of those rare tracks and the Forgotten Rebels do the Vibrators' classic justice, playing it a bit harder than the original, but preserving the sublimity of the tune.
*Note: The grammarian in me cringes at the title; I can't help it. One could almost forgive the omission of the apostrophe in the first word, but the fact that the second presents the singular possessive instead of the simple plural of "hero" is kinda hard to take.