I often talk of how 1995 was my 1977. The late '90s revival of '70s punk rock is a subject near and dear to my heart and one I may someday write a book about. Those bands were my gateway to all the first wave punk rock I now consider to be the greatest music ever made. One band from that movement that has held up particularly well is L.A.'s Streetwalkin' Cheetahs. Maximum Overdrive, a compilation of the band's debut album and early singles on Alive/Bomp! Records, is an essential purchase for fans of '70s style punk from the '90s. It combines a gritty and roaring Stooges/Dead Boys punk rock and roll style with some seriously underrated melodic songwriting. Still going strong after 27 years plus, the Streetwalkin' Cheetahs have never lost sight of their mission to fill the world with high energy rock and roll. And they've never ceased to wear their influences on their sleeves. On their two-disc set All The Covers (And More) (out today on Rum Bar Records), they show the love to all the bands that inspired their very existence.
Featuring extensive liner notes by singer/guitarist Frank Meyer, All The Covers (And More) is a deluxe package comprising 38 covers of punk, proto-punk, and rock and roll classics. Essentially, these are the songs that made the Streetwalkin' Cheetahs. This album is a window into the soul of the band. It features both studio tracks and live cuts. I'm not always a fan of covers albums or live recordings, but I've got to say that I've been enjoying the hell out of this release. It makes me nostalgic for a time in my life when I was first discovering so many of the bands covered here. I can remember what it was like when I first got my hands on records by the Stooges, MC5, Dead Boys, Radio Birdman, Saints, and Dictators and had my mind totally blown (To this day, I can't hear any version of "Sonic Reducer" without screaming along until I'm hoarse). I'm envious of anyone who might be introduced to these bands through this release. The Streetwalkin' Cheetahs are providing a road map for a formal education in punk rock! And the cover selections go beyond the obvious choices. The band pays homage to its more "pop" influences with two Cheap Trick covers and a rousing take on The Boys' "Kamikaze." There are also nods to greats from the worlds of hard rock/metal (Motley Crue, Iron Maiden), glam punk (Hanoi Rocks, Smack, Dogs D'Amour), and classic L.A. punk (X, Fear). The performances, both live and in the studio, properly capture the powerhouse energy and wild aggression of the songs' original versions. Standout cuts for me are The Runaways' "Cherry Bomb" (featuring Cherie Currie on lead vocals), the aforementioned Dead Boys "Sonic Reducer" (featuring Jimmy Zero), X's "Los Angeles," Cheap Trick's "Hot Love" (featuring the B-Movie Rats), Motley Crue's "Live Wire," The MC5's "Kick Out the Jams," and (of course!) The Dictators' "Faster and Louder."
I appreciate that the Streetwalkin' Cheetahs didn't just want to do a covers album. Instead they wanted to release all their covers in one shot — which provides a complete picture of the varied influences that formed them. Some of the vital influencers (Wayne Kramer, Sylvain Sylvain, Deniz Tek) even make appearances on this collection. It seems weird to say that this album could be a perfect introduction to the Streetwalkin' Cheetahs. But honestly, it just might be! The band will surely be playing a lot of these songs as it tours the West Coast in support of All The Covers (And More) in November and December. Featuring over two-and-a-half hours of music, this two-disc set is an absolute treat for fans of both the Streetwalkin' Cheetahs and old school punk rock and roll in general.