Friday, May 17, 2013
Rapid Pulse Records - The Top Ten Singles
Dirtnap, Pelado, and American Punk Records, I'm really just scratching the surface. There were so many cool labels during that "second golden age" of punk rock circa the late '90s/early 2000s, and eventually I'd like to cover most of them. Rapid Pulse Records may have been the coolest of them all!
If you were into the '77/garage/punk rock n' roll thing back in the '90s, you almost definitely ordered records from Underground Medicine. You could always count on Jim to distro all the releases you wanted to buy. And if he was touting some unknown band, you knew you had to have their 7". U.M. was perfectly in tune with my taste in punk music - and probably ended up influencing it as well. All these years later, I still look at what Jim's carrying for ideas on bands I should be reviewing.
In 1997, Jim took the big leap and started his own label - Rapid Pulse Records. I know it's a cliche to say it, but it seems like only yesterday that that first single by Apocalypse Babys came out. Now here we are 16 years later. Underground Medicine/Rapid Pulse is still a going concern, and I'm still writing about punk rock. With a catalog numbering somewhere around 40 titles and a roster representing seven countries, Rapid Pulse has put an incredible amount of great punk rock n' roll into the world. I'd consider a number of the label's releases to be "classics" of their day - although Jim would tell you he wishes they'd sold like classics! In all seriousness, though, what's always been great about Rapid Pulse is that Jim has never aimed to put out big sellers. He's aimed to put out great punk rock records - in many cases by highly deserving obscure/underdog type bands. Who else was going to stand up for the likes of NY Whores and Paul E. Ester and the Cruel Shoes?
Compiling a top ten list of Rapid Pulse singles was no easy task, but it was an enjoyable trip down memory lane. Circa 2002-03 especially, Rapid Pulse was probably the best label going. And this list definitely reflects that. I decided not to count any of the releases the label has done since it's reboot last year, but they're all awesome too.
How many of these did you have?
10. (tie) Nikki Corvette - "Love Me" (2003)
The Sellouts - "Hey Mofo" (1998)
After being out of music for 23 years, Nikki Corvette teamed with producer/songwriter Travis Ramin and proved she was still the queen of power pop. She's been going strong ever since. The Sellouts were from Brazil and played killer snotty punk rock that would have been right at home on Rip Off Records. They did another single for Rapid Pulse and a couple other releases that were equally awesome. Brazil's best punk band ever? I think so!
9. The Bomb Pops- "Everything (Looks Like Her)" (2002)
The Bomb Pops were D.D. "Machine" Davis on guitar/vocals plus the Devil Dogs' rhythm section, and as far as I know this was their only release. The trio played classic power pop mixed with '70s punk/rock n' roll, and I went nuts for their single upon hearing it. Why didn't anyone else?
8. Deadly Weapons- "You're So Selfish" (2003)
You know I'm a huge fan of Tina Lucchesi. Deadly Weapons, one of her most underrated bands, dished out ferocious old school hardcore a la The Lewd and VKTMS. This was their second of two totally great EPs.
7. The Pits - "Introducing My New High" (2001)
English punk rock was largely ignored in the '90s and 2000s - but not by Rapid Pulse Records! The Pits hailed from Sunderland and had an authentic '77 Brit-punk sound in the vein of Chelsea and the Sex Pistols. This was their first of two singles on Rapid Pulse. The Pits were one of my favorite bands from my Now Wave webzine heyday.
6. The Saviors- "Ruby Gloom" (2003)
Most people know Dimitri Monroe from his zine writings. But like Andy Shernoff, he's a dual threat! He teamed up with his guitarist pal Brian Morgan to form The Saviors - literate glam/punk throwbacks in the Clash/Thunders/Hanoi Rocks mold. The title track was a mid-tempo hard pop gem, while the B-side turned on the heat a la the Dead Boys. I'm pretty sure there were a few more Saviors songs released elsewhere, but it's been ten years and I've killed a lot of brain cells. So I could be wrong.
5. The Double Nuthins- "Got Into A Fight In Special Ed" (1999)
Out of Providence, Rhode Island, this trio played fast, catchy garage punk with a hint of The Simpletones' juvenile delinquency. They didn't stick around very long, but they did release one more single on Baby Doll Records. The late '90s were the heyday of obscure but great garage punk bands, and The Double Nuthins were one of the best of that lot.
4. Trust Fund Babies - "Can't Trust Me" (1999)
Featuring former members of The Spites and Shifters and future members of The Shrinks and Radio Reelers, Trust Fund Babies were a phenomenal but short-lived band (sensing a pattern here?). This was their debut single. They did a second single for Radio Records and a superb LP for Rapid Pulse. Then they broke up. I still don't know how Rip Off Records missed out on these guys.
3. Apocalypse Babys- "Local Heroes" (1997)
This was the record that started it all- which I ended up proclaiming to be the best single of 1997. I could still probably pass this off as a lost pop/punk classic from 1977 UK. From the tiny English town of South Normanton, the Apocalypse Babys formed way back in 1990...and are still at it today! I once traded three of this band's singles for the first Plimsouls LP. It was a good trade, but I sure missed those singles.
2. The Sleazies- "Gonna Operate On Myself" (2003)
I know I say it all the time, but here was a band that should have been huge. The Sleazies were kind of like an East Coast version of The Briefs - except poppier and way more inappropriate. They followed this single with a CD on Pelado Records - an overlooked masterpiece of goofball pogo punk. Rapid Pulse later reissued it on vinyl.
1. Inversions- "Domestic Disturbance"/"Hung By The Phone" (2003)
Technically, this was two singles. But they were released at the same time and had the feel of a double 7". This was Kevin McGovern's first project after the implosion of The Prostitutes. In my opinion, the Prostitutes were the greatest punk band of the '90s. And The Inversions were a total continuation of that drug-addled awesomeness. "Hung By The Phone" is an all-time classic of snotty punk rock!
Just missed the cut:
Barse - "Council Estate", Bingo/Thee S.T.P. split, The Hore Hounds- "No Time For You"
If you want to read a more thorough discography of Rapid Pulse's original run, check out the label's web page. For the scoop on some of R.P.R.'s more recent releases, go to http://www.undergroundmedicine.com/. Ya gotta have that Lovesores 10"!