Saturday, October 14, 2017
The Prissteens - Demos and Rarities Volume 2
I never dreamed there would ever be a sequel to last year's completely essential Prissteens Demos and Rarities collection. Yet here I am at this very moment staring at Volume 2. Christmas came early this year!
I suppose it would be more correct to refer to volume 2 as a prequel. Volume 1 was largely made up of demos for songs that were intended for that second Prissteens album that never came to be. Volume 2, on the other hand, features demos the band recorded in advance of Scandal, Controversy, and Romance- its first (and sadly, only) album. More polished versions of a couple of these tracks wound up on the LP, while a few of these songs are being heard for the very first time after 20 years in the vaults. Girlsville is once again responsible for unearthing these lost treasures, and Courtney did an amazing job of combing through the demos and selecting only the absolute cream of the crop. What results is an all-killer, no-filler affair packaging the best of The Prissteens' pre-album demos with the B-sides from the band's early singles and a Christmas song that was previously available only as a download.
Was the "big" production of Scandal, Controversy, and Romance ill-suited for The Prissteens, or was it exactly what the band needed? While fans seem to be divided on this point, there's not much denying that the difference between indie era and major label era Prissteens is like night and day. This collection bridges those two eras. If you've ever wondered what the songs from the album would have sounded like if they'd been produced like the earlier singles, demo versions of "Someday" and "I Don't Cry" will provide a definitive and satisfying answer. If you weren't familiar with the Prissteens and just heard "I'm A Mess", you might think you were encountering forgotten garage rock greats from 50 years ago. And after one listen to "You're Gonna Lose", I was immediately baffled as to how this song could have been lost to the world for two decades. It's the absolute perfect mix of punk rock and girl group inspired pop. As I listen, I imagine that the ghost of Joey Ramone is smiling beside me and imploring me to turn it up louder.
The Prissteens were one of New York City's finest punk groups of the '90s - or any decade for that matter! If you're looking for a proper introduction to the band, either volume of Demos and Rarities is a fine place to start. Volume 2 is the leaner and meaner of the two and comes with essential bonuses like the Richard Gottehrer produced "Christmas Is a Time for Giving" and the band's wonderfully NSFW treatment of the Undertones' "Teenage Kicks". If you own volume 1, you're gonna need to have volume 2 as well. Otherwise I'll just tell you to quit screwing around and go buy 'em both!