WE HATE THE NERVEBREAKERS - The Nervebreakers (Self-released)
By now, Barflies are probably tired of reading about my love for the Nervebreakers, the Dallas band that opened for the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, and the Clash, and backed Roky Erickson before that gig devolved on Austin’s Explosives. But no matter. They reformed last year to record a new set of previously-unwaxed toons (Face Up To Reality, currently being shopped along with "Why Am I So Flipped?", a compilation of previously-unreleased old tracks). They just played their first shows in 15 years in Austin during SXSW and on home turf, at Deep Ellum’s Club Dada. I witnessed two out of three performances and am pleased as punch to report that they’ve lost nary a step in the past 30 years. In fact, in some respects, they sounded better than ever.

But it occurred to me that some of you might not own any Nervebreakers music, a situation that demands redress. Sure, their 1980 swansong We Want Everything (released in 1994) remains in Get Hip’s catalog, but by now, the decade-old vinyl-only compilation "Hijack the Radio" (on the Italian label Rave Up) is probably almost as rare as the ‘riginal artifacts.

Head Nervebreaker, guitarist Mike Haskins, released this CD-R, subtitled A "Nervebreakers for Dummies Primer", for sale during the recent run of gigs, and it’s a corker. (He probably even has copies left of the “fan club” CD-Rs – Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 and the two-volume Live At DJ’s – that he put out at the ass-end of the ‘90s. Ask him.)

Drummer Carl Giesecke kicks off the lead-off track “Face Up To Reality” (the title cut from the as-yet-unreleased newie) with the same tribal tom-tom thump that he used to kick off their notorious cover of the Troggs’ “Strange Movies.” The new song is a sexy, slinky grinder, featuring all the things that made ‘em great back in the day, when they essayed a repertoire of ‘riginals as smart and funny as the Kinks circa "Face To Face" or their Noo Yawk contemporaries the Dictators mixed with choice covers. If you were there, close your eyes and you can almost see Thom (“Tex”) Edwards hanging off the mic stand, looking all blasé, while to his right, Barry Kooda (the guy eating the fish in the famous Rolling Stone pic) alternated bashing out the chords and trying to eat his vocal mic, and to his left, Donnie Osmond doppelganger Haskins pealed off stinging leads on a par with Cheetah Chrome’s or Ross the Boss’s, a totally un-“punk” expression of pure bliss on his baby face, and bassist Bob Childress stood behind him, bouncing up and down with the unadulterated glee of the #1 fan who got to be in the band.

The NB’s were pure wish fulfillment for a rekkid store geek like your humble chronicler o’ events, or anyone who teethed on the harder-edged Brit bands, Detroit ramalama, and more esoteric fare like the Flamin’ Groovies and Nuggets. Their anthems "Hijack the Radio" and "My Girlfriend Is A Rock" (a hit in San Francisco when it was new, reworked as "My Girlfriend’s In Iraq" back in 2003 by Spector 45, a band of Dallas snotnoses who played a tight, hot set in direct support at Club Dada last week) – not to mention Barry Kooda’s "Stand Up" from We Want Everything – are fist-pumping adrenaline rushes up there with anything in the Pistols/Damned/Dead Boys canon.

“Why Am I So Flipped?” is a rollercoaster romp with breaks by each band member, while “My Life Is Ruined" brought a tear to at least one listener’s eye, hearing “lead poet” Tex Edwards singing the hard-luck lyric that he probably meant to be ironic when he penned it three decades ago. The song’s minor-key mysterioso vibe hits like a country-fried versh of first-album Blue Oyster Cult or Radio Birdman’s “Man With Golden Helmet.” "I Love Your Neurosis" dates from a ’77 sesh, before Childress supplanted Clarke Blacker on bass, and evokes the shade of the Chocolate Watch Band in all their studio-psychedelic glory.

If you love the Rock Action (and why would you be here if you didn’t?), you need this. Hit their Myspace thingy at myspace.com/nervebreaking and ask ‘em real nice. Once you hear it, you’re gonna want more. And if you’re a record label with an ear for the real shit…you know what to do.- Ken Shimamoto


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