Time for another band battle. And let me tell ya, this one is tough. I’ve lost sleep over this decision. I consulted my therapist, my parents, and Dick Clark, and still no one could help me. I knew I was on my own.
’s greatest beer is Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter. Cleveland ’s greatest athlete is Jim Brown. Cleveland ’s greatest actor is Paul Newman. But who’s Cleveland ’s greatest band: the Dead Boys or the Pagans? Cleveland
I’m guessing that if you polled the public, the Dead Boys would win in a landslide. But given my highly informed and most specific readership, I’m anticipating a photo finish. Unlike the Dead Boys, who recorded two LPs for a major record label, The Pagans never even made a proper album during their 1977-79 heyday. Their legacy is an extraordinary run of self-issued singles that rate with the best 45s of any early punk band. The Dead Boys may have coined the phrase “young, loud & snotty”, but the Pagans were just as loud and no less snotty.
Any way I look at it, it almost itself feels like it has to be a tie. I’d list Mike Hudson amongst the ten greatest punk singers of all-time. But I’d say the exact same thing for Stiv Bators. “Sonic Reducer” is one of my favorite songs ever, but I can’t say I like it any more than “What’s This Shit Called Love?” or “Street Where Nobody Lives”. The Dead Boys are to me the definitive American-style ’77 punk band with their flamethrower guitar leads and degenerate rock n’ roll stylings. But the Pagans, with their thumping ferocity and guitars that spewed noise like alien destruction machines, were the archetypes of Midwestern punk. I maybe give the Dead Boys a slight edge in terms of quantity of killer tunes. But then again, I can’t really say they had a third-or-fourth best song as good as “Eyes of Satan”, “I Juvenile”, or “Boy Can I Dance Good”. The Dead Boys took the influence of the Stooges and New York Dolls to the logical next step. The Pagans played rock n’ roll as if inspired by a chemical-induced rendezvous with God or perhaps the devil. But who was better? Hmmm.
Oh well, I guess it’s just like choosing between kielbasa and bratwurst. There is no wrong answer. I love both bands. But if you put a gun to my head, I’ll cast my vote for the underdog Pagans. The ball is in your court, dear voters!