Tuesday, November 01, 2005

D.O.A.- War is still good for absolutely nothing

You gotta love Canadian punk legend Joey Shithead. He's kept the D.O.A. flame burning since the late 70's with their own Sudden Death Records. Sadly an avowed anti-dance music fan (the first DOA single was called "Disco Sucks"), he came up with an inspired idea in the early 80's. "One of the big trends on the radio was this ridiculous thing called "Stars on 45" (as in a 45 RPM disc). They would take a silly disco beat and put 30 second snippets of a famous band's hits on top of it. So you got great bands like the Beatles with a disco beat behind it and cornball shit like The Beach Boys with disco beats as well, ughhh!!! So that's where (manger Ken) Lester came up with the idea of putting a bunch of anti-war songs on a 12" 45 RPM vinyl disc, cool idea, it really worked." Which is all good and well except a reissue isn't gonna be on a little 7" vinyl disc anymore so the title War on 45 (now reissued on their own label) will have to stand for the hopefully long-gone "Stars" medley madness.

In addition to the cover of Edwin Starr's hit (which admittedly doesn't beat Springsteen's version much less the original), they also cover the Dils (who later mutated into the very under-rated alt-country band Rank & File) and reggae artist Rankin' Trevor, complete with dub explosions- the latter is admirable for reaching out but then punk & reggae already had close ties even by then (or just ask Rancid) and you have to wonder why Mr. S-head would shun other dance music so blithely. Drummer Chuck Biscuits was in no mood to skank though so he ran off to Black Flag instead.

To fill out the reissue, Mssr Shithead dug into the D.O.A. catalog for other singles, album tracks and demos, all on the anti-battle tip. To their credit, this other material fits in well, musically and thematically, including covers of Dylan's "Masters of War" (done with the rigtheous indignation that Zimmy surely had in mind), Fogerty's "Forunate Son" (admirable but no match for CCR) and Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction" (greatly improved as a drunken sing-a-long). Even stronger than these blasts from the past is a Shithead original that ends things off- once only a demo, "No God, No War" has such sacreligious pearls of wisdom as this:

You got a life you wanna live
Don't give it for God
You got a life you wanna give
Don't give it for God
No God, no war

And while S-head's contention that an anti-war record is just as relevant then as now, he forgets all of the other blood-lettings in between that have ALWAYS made this relevant. But as a great sloganeer, he does repeat this bon mot equation from the WO4 back cover that will always hold true:



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