Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Fabulous Organ Donors - Nerd Punk

The Fabulous Organ Donors Nerd Punk 7" (Organ Donors, 1990)

By 1984, American punk rock had gotten bored with itself. The ol' 1-2-3-4 wasn't working for people and no matter how fast you played the numbers they still came out to 1-2-3-4. While some folks spun into post-punk (see Big Black, Butthole Surfers, Scratch Acid, etc.), what seemed to dominate was punk/metal crossover. Besides littering punk rock with a bunch of long haired dirtballs, crossover also introduced to punk rock the concept of more is good.

I am not one of those folks that believes that punk rock is musically stupid. I think that the music is both stupid and smart. However I do believe that punk rock is, on the surface, musically simple. There is a difference between simple and stupid. Wire's Pink Flag is both a simple record and one of the smartest rock and roll records ever made. The smarts in it are in knowing what to play and what not to play. Until about 1984, the idea that less was more and less was best pretty much ruled punk rock. With crossover, that notion got mugged.

With cross over came "more" and with "more" came jerk-off musicianship in the form of metal guitar solos, longer songs with more parts and even a drum solo or two (albeit short ones). Set free, the chops-minded created prog-punk or math rock, perhaps two of punk's most miserable spawns. The simple hook was replaced by ten hooks, well, not exactly hooks - hooks are memorable - make that, the simple hooks were replaced by a series of parts, each played with speed and dexterity, a contest of sorts and as interesting as punk rock decoupage can be, which by my ears is pretty boring. Suddenly, punk rock went from "anyone can do it" to "anyone can do it with a masters degree in music theory or grade through high school spent in jazz band." And did I mention that some folks even used slap bass? And during this circle jerk, the thing the music industry called grunge. Ugh.

If punk rock was to survive something had to come along and smash the music school crowd. Luckily, it wasn't just me fretting over the state of punk rock circa 1988 (though to give credit where credit is due there were some great non-metal. non-music school late 80s punk rock bands. Three who come immediately to mind are the Lazy Cowgirls, Kildozer, and Death of Samantha), I think the universal unconscious of punk rock pretty much felt ill at ease with this plunkety plunkety jive ass bullshit fest. Notables like the Mummies, Supercharger, and the Gories pushed punk back to the 1-2-3-4 with a big fuck off to the hair farmers. Crashing away with our heroes were lesser known bands such as Stockton's Captain 9's, Ypsilanti's Henchmen, and some mooks from Storrs, Connecticut called the Organ Donors.

Proof that the Organ Donors existed is found on one self released, 3 song, 7" ep. The music is pretty damn basic, pretty damn snotty, and pretty damn dumb...but it is still smart and it is definitely metal-free (ahh maybe some smart ass tongue in cheek riffage pops up, but that is mockery not metal). I can't tell you anything about this band other than its members were named Dave, Marc, Vic, and Dick (the last two who I am guessing went by Vic Ferrari and Dick Les). Both the sleeve and the label have these guys as "The Fabulous Organ Donors," though they could have just gone by the Organ Donors. And that is what I know about them.

So please welcome punk rock back to the 1-2-3-4 fuck it all with two songs from the 1990 7" by The Fabulous Organ Donors. -Scott S.

The punk-metal crossover thing really got my dander up in '84 and '85. All the people I hated at school were suddenly at the shows...and wearing goddamned Misfits t-shirts!
Great blog, great writing too! You hit the nail on the head about the smart/dumb duality in punk and how it got fxxked up when everybody had to play as many notes as they could. I guess when you're starting a band and starting to learn to play at the same time (like the '80/'81 bands) you've got no concept of economy; those early bands sounded great because they didn't have the chops yet to fxxk it up (I'm afraid fxxk spelt right might get caught in some Blogger filter...?). Then when they'd had some guitar lessons, it was note diarrhoea all over the place. This is a phase every musician will go through; when they've got good taste they will grow out of it in about 3 months. I guess because back then punk was so new nobody was looking back, just forward, this noodling was considered "progress". Just like in the mid-'80's they thought the artwork and recording quality was getting better (listen to any record from say 1987 now!). I have to say though, there were a couple of punk bands that played some pretty complicated stuff and were still great: Angry Samoans, Descendents, Adolescents, (GI period) Germs for instance. I guess it worked because they balanced their instrumental dexterity with dumb lyrics; Milo, who went to college, singing "You fxxking homos!"; The Angry Samoans, who I believe had a couple of college professors in their ranks, giving us such pearls as "They saved Hitler's cock/ They hid it under a rock"...
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