Welcome to Obscuro, a new weekly feature where Up on the Sun dives deep into the world of vinyl oddities: private press jobs, major label cast-offs, and general thrift shop clutter that's thus far escaped anyone's attention. These LPs have been hiding out, collecting dust, until we come along, investigate, probe and listen. Records, neglected by the years, given their moment in the blog-light.
I didn't mean to cover two Michigan records in a row, but the Motor City did indeed spit this dusty nugget out, a live record by psychobilly/surf-punk band Snake Out, titled Live Pizza. I know what you are thinking, looking at the black and white scrawled cover, does this record come packaged in a cardboard pizza replica box? Why yes, it does.
In Eric Davidson's excellent book, We Never Learn: The Gunk Punk Underground, 1988-2001, he writes about the rebellion by so called gunk punkers (a loose term describing the nexus between garage rock, punk, glam, cowpunk and other assorted "genres") against the political correctness of many punk bands/labels (think the don't drink, don't screw, don't joke ethos of early hardcore).
Snake Out, comprised of Len Puch on guitar, vocals, Tim Reagan on drums and yelps, and Greg Mitchell on bass, certainly fit the bill when it comes to being rude and hilarious. It's hard to take anything other than the bands ramshackle surf hooks seriously, and I get the feeling that's how they liked it.
The record is chock full of dick jokes, puke jokes, butt jokes, amputee jokes, sheep jokes, Canadian joke, lesbian jokes... the list goes on. Pretty much no group leaves unscathed. While it's understandable that straight-edgers sought to make punk a thinking man's game in addition to the realm of the maniac, there's a delirious joy to the record.
Tracks like "Blood Rock Beach" strut, "Hockey Night in Canada" hocks lugees all over a nation's pastime, and well placed covers classic surf themes like "Hawaii 5-0" and "Bonanza" keep things fun. The album was recorded, as the record describes in on the back cover "live on Friday, March 11th, 1986 at a big bodacious party with a bunch of our strangest and most disgusting friends (they're all lesbians after all). Most of them left after they got real drunk but a few stayed and rubbed our nipples after the party."
My copy was intended for someone at a radio station with the now out-of-use call letters KEYX, and included a one page handwritten by Len. Unfortunately, it's not half as outrageous as anything written in the liner notes, simply requesting some airplay and mentioning an upcoming show. In the notes, however, the band addresses "the critics," saying, "Please do not judge us just a psychobilly band or a rockibilly band or a surf band. We do a mix of all these, because that's what we like. I know, I know, that's terrible! Shame on us, but we're not trying to convey some dark image (we're too fuckin' goofy for that)."
In a few words, the band has summed up exactly what I dislike about modern psychobilly. While records by Tiger Army will never show up as Obscuro entries, I don't think a single album by the band is as fun as Live Pizza.
Snake Out, Live Pizza, 1986, "marketed & distributed by Metro America Records, Detroit, MI. The record also bears the mark of Wanghead (With Lips) Records.
"Blood Rock Beach"
"Devil In Mrs. Brady"
"Time Hangs Ten"
"Eep Rip Orp Op"
"Hockey Night In Canada"
"Bushmen Prefer Blonds"
"Rockabilly Camel Jockey"
"Good Goobley Goo"
"Surfin' With Ed Gein (Parts 1 & 2)"
"Out of Limits"
"Surf Song in Dm"
Google Search Reveals: Len Puch went onto some garage rock notoriety producing stuff for The Gories, who would go on to spawn The Dirtbombs, and currently runs Speedcult, Detroit, who make some seriously cool tiki, goth, sci-fi, hot rod & pinup metal work.
Snake Out remains a blip in his early career. One of the few things I've found about Snake Out, Live Pizza, specifically comes from an AZ based blog, AZ Local, who has a cool write up on the album.
Also worth nothing, is that Warren Defever, a Michigan bassist who played with Elvis Hitler, provides background vocals on the album, and went on to form His Name Is Alive, a band that embraced dream-pop, 60's pop, shoegaze, free-jazz, and noise-pop in a manner that Snake Out would have certainly mocked at the time.
Who Bought This?: A handful of Cramps fans in Michigan. Which is to say, some really cool folks. Our own Jay "Nothing Not New" Bennett recalls seeing the band live while in high school, recalling that he believes he used to own their studio album.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.