COMING DOWN LIKE A HAMMER - JACK TRAGIC RULES THE WHOLE GODDAMN WORLD! - Jack Tragic & The Unfortunates (Bacchus Archives/Dionysus)
Although they've been around since 1990, the Bacchus Archives imprint of the Dionysus "empire" (their word, not mine) is apparently now trying to carve out a niche for itself as a prime purveyor of reissued and previously unreleased obscure punk of the 1970's and early 1980's, offering titles from The Undead, Gentlemen Of Horror, The Rotters, The Dils, and The Dogs (as a Detroit kid, I'm ashamed to say I've yet to hear one note from these Michiganians who headed to L.A. in search of the brass ring - any Barflies up for a little charity in the form of a CD-R for yours truly?). Well, they don't get any more obscure than Jack Tragic & The Unfortunates, whose low-rent brand of poverty punk sounds like it was well past its sell-by date when these recordings originally surfaced between 1983 and 1989.

Stating that "Coming Down Like A Hammer" is as worthless as tits on a nun is like saying that Keith Richards enjoys the occasional recreational beverage. In its infinite wisdom, Spin Magazine named the band's first single, "I Kill Hippies" b/w "Mind Loot," one of the top 100 punk singles of all time. To reiterate Tragic's obvious confusion at such an honor in the liner notes, I say "huh?" At best, both sides are clunky, riff-strapped attempts at some sort of punk rock grand statement, empty braggadocio from a bunch of ragged louts who clearly hold "The Decline Of Western Civilization" close to their hearts as nihilistic gospel.

Judging from the liner notes, Tragic fancies himself as a bad-ass, hardcore guy from the post-punk wilds of Connecticut, laying bare his damaged grey matter and playing up his street cred with rote tales of drugs, arrests, jail time, nuthouses, record company altercations, and drunken blackouts (yawn...). Smitten with the cartoon vision of a world filled with careening, urban violence, Tragic & The Unfortunates churn out a never-ending litany of minimalistic, pseudo-menacing tales of bitches, smashing enemies, and in the low-slung, wrench-headed funk of "I'm Burnt," something to do with shooting heroin (I think). Dictator Andy Shernoff, who should really know better, handles the production chores on "Drop The Dime," "I Want To Die," and "Milk Carton Mistress" but the results are just as messy as the rest of the album and are probably best enjoyed with a bongful of dope and a warm six-pack.

It pains me to even think about it, but there's a 35-year-old skinheaded loser in a Cro-Mags t-shirt out there right this minute skanking to "I Kill Hippies," daydreaming of nights filled with macho bluster and a certain sense of alcohol and drug-fuelled invincibility. This is his heaven. May he swiftly die. - Clark Paull

No Beers