Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Some more SST stuff: Stains.

The real worth of some things only becomes apparent over time. This is the case with the sole 45 rpm LP by East-LA's Stains. The record was recorded in '81 but wasn't released until '83. This two year gap certainly contributed to the initial non-reaction that the band received. By the end of the decade, the record was scarce (I tried to find it in some sort of half-assed fashion based on the strength of the song included on SST comp A BLASTING CONCEPT), and the few occasions I asked people about the band they either shrugged their shoulders or thought I was talking about Texas/San Fran outfit M.D.C., who went by the same name early. The record was missing in action, which is a shame in retrospect, because the peculiar and energetic blend of punk and metal that The Stains burp out would have sat very nicely with many of the "crossover" types that populated my particular neck of the 'burbs in the late '80s. Sadly, there just weren't enough copies of this record pressed to cook up a posthumous fan-base so soon. Some more years needed to pass, a couple of bootlegs needed to be released, and the internet had to be invented for this band to really get the appreciation they always deserved. These days, the record goes for big bucks, and the band is revered by many as the should've-been-contenders they definitely were. The icing on this reversal of fortune would be a well designed, strongly mastered reissue, preferably with the two demos (one recorded prior to the LP, one shortly after) that I've heard talk about (these demos are supposedly bootlegged, but they've never graced my ears. They could easily suck, particularly the post-LP recording, but it'd be nice to know for sure). It doesn't look like this is about to happen, so if you want the scoop on the band I suggest navigating the web. The whole record is out there in MP3 land, and short of a deluxe reissue, that's as good a place to hear this throbbing, heaving, spitting mess as any. Vocalist Rudy Navarro sounds wonderfully screwed-up and pissed-off, and the wailing strangeness of Robert Becerra's guitar is drizzled all over the place, helping the band eschew the sameness that was just starting to plague the punk scene during the decade. The rhythm section may not be up to the standards of Watt/Hurley, Dukowski/ROBO, or Lombardo/Stevenson, but it's not far behind. As with many SST recordings from the label's early period, producer Spot is the secret weapon. If these guys had been stuck in a room with some knob-twiddler who didn't know punk rock from pancakes, I'm pretty certain that this record wouldn't be the sought after item it is today. Shit, it's nice to think that something went right for these cats.

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