Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Pelado Records: The Ten Greatest Singles
This is the second in a series I'm doing on label retrospectives. Earlier this year I listed the ten greatest Dirtnap Records albums. Now we turn to the late, great Pelado Records. The importance of Pelado Records in my personal music history cannot be emphasized enough. This was my #1 favorite record label in the "prime" of my zine days (later '90s to early 2000s). More so than any other label of the time, Pelado appealed to my taste in music and probably influenced it as well. Most of my favorite bands of that era were either on the Pelado roster (Dimestore Haloes, Prostitutes, Bladder Bladder Bladder) or associated with the label through compilation appearances (Moral Crux, Dead End Cruisers, Trash Brats). It was an incredible time to be a fan of punk music, and all these years later I really feel like the music holds up. And when you look at the thriving state of current labels like No Front Teeth Records, it's clear to see that the torch has been passed. Pelado Records may be gone, but its influence is still felt.
While Pelado released a number of great albums, I decided to focus on the label's 7" output for this particular list. In the early days of the label especially, the singles were what I looked forward to the most. When I sat down to brainstorm titles, it was kind of overwhelming at first. There were so many great singles on Pelado, and by limiting it to ten I had to leave out a lot of worthy contenders. But as always, that's half the fun of this kind of project! Here we go!
10. Primitive Rollers/The Bees - split 7"
Admit it: you forgot about this one! I'd heard of neither band before this record came out, and I don't think either band has released anything since. But what a great record! The Bees did the trashy garage punk thing, and the Primitive Rollers were like The Heartbreakers reincarnate.
9. No One's Victim- The Chase
Pat always had a good ear for the melodic/anthemic side of street punk, and No One's Victim turned out to be one of his best finds. These lads from Clovis, California seemed ticketed for a bright future and a multi-album deal on a label like TKO. For whatever reason, it never happened. But I'll put this record up against just about any street punk release of its time.
8. Dead Empty- Tattoed Women
I saw this band a number of times in the early 2000s, and I was convinced that they were going to be huge. They were that good. Had they arrived on the scene a couple years sooner, when street punk was "hot", they probably would have been huge. Either way, this was a phenomenal record. Guitarist Andy Mehos is now in the very excellent Mean Streets.
7. The Beatings- Kiss On The Cheek
Yet another band I thought was poised for world domination that ended up breaking up with little fanfare. Maybe there was a "Pelado curse"! Ha! The late '90s were a golden age of glam-punk, and The Beatings were a big part of it. Baltimore's finest!
6. American Heartbreak- Please Kill Me
You may recall that in the year 2000, American Heartbreak delivered one of the great rock albums of recent memory. What you might not remember is that said album was preceded by a 7" that came out on Pelado. It was kind of an outside-the-box move for Pat to work with a band featuring former members of Jetboy and Exodus, but he clearly was not a guy who'd let scene politics get in the way of releasing a great record. Obviously, this is the "slickest" sounding thing to ever come out on Pelado. But that's not a bad thing. Glammy power pop rock n' roll par excellence!
5. Dimestore Haloes/Bladder Bladder Bladder split 7"
This was the one that started it all for me. I had heard of the Haloes prior to getting this record, but this was my first time actually hearing their music. They were in their early days and still very much a work in progress. But warts and all, I loved 'em from the start. They contributed the songs "Sickness" and "Tombstone Radio". Bladder Bladder Bladder, Californians by way of the U.K., came off like dead ringers for Mick Jones fronted Clash on "U.S. Dole Queue" and "White American National Killer". My life was never the same.
4. Los Pinkos- Girl Krazy
This is one of my all-time favorites! Los Pinkos were from the Detroit area, and had a poppy garage rock n' roll sound. Main guy Mike went on to form the very similar Metros, who had an LP and single on Rip Off Records. Dig this jam:
Dimestore Haloes- Everybody Loves You When You're Dead
Bladder Bladder Bladder- No Go Girl
I know. I'm cheating. I'm bending the rules of mathematics. My top ten is secretly a top 11. Oh well. Consider it a bonus track. For reasons already made clear, these two kindred spirit bands are inextricably linked in my mind (if only they'd toured together!). Both of these records came out around the same time. It was 1998, I think. It was a good year. Classic releases from both bands!
2. Exploding Hearts- Modern Kicks
Ah, the late great Hearts. This was supposed to be their first 7" but ended up being their second. I have a hard time deciding which one I like better. The one on Vinyl Warning was incredible as well. Let's call it a tie. Everyone knows the classic title track. And B-side "Busy Signals" is one of the band's most beloved non-album songs. Is it any surprise that this record still goes for mucho bucks? In an interesting note of personal trivia, I sent this record to my friend Vinny as a surprise gift a number of years back. He then returned the favor last year by sending me a copy of the first Dimestore Haloes album. It's a big, old circle of Pelado band love!
1. The Prostitutes- Get Me Sick
This was actually the second Pelado release ever (after the Dead End Kids and prior to The Bristles). If there was one record that put Pelado Records on the map, this was it! The year was 1996. The Prostitutes hailed from my neck of the woods - Harrisburg, PA. And boy, did they ever do us central Pennsylvanian punk rockers proud! Get Me Sick was a neutron bomb of depravity and ill will, fired off with a ferocity that put most "snotty" punk rock bands to shame. It was as if G.G. Allin, The Pagans, and The Humpers had gotten together and made a record. All these years later, I consider the title track to be one of the greatest punk rock songs not just of its time but also of all-time. In my humble opinion, this was the best punk rock band of the '90s. And Kevin's still at it today!
That was a pretty formidable list, I must say. What a great label Pelado was! Honorable mentions go out to Kickstarter, the Romeo's Dead/Burdens split, the Upsets/Richmond Sluts split, and Chinese Takeaway. I'm considering doing a follow-up list sometime in the near future where I'll list the ten greatest Pelado albums. In the meantime, check out the Pelado Records page on Facebook if you haven't already!