“Lights Out” was featured on the Rhino Records punk comp Faster and Louder: Hardcore Punk. That two volume series, along with the Alternative Tentacles Let Them Eat Jellybeans comp were the “big bang” that lead to my interest in vintage punk rock. “Lights Out” was the first song I ever heard by the Angry Samoans and I loved it instantly. After a little digging (this was 1993) I found their first long-player Back From Samoa. For some reason it just didn’t click with me right away. It wasn’t until years later that I appreciated it for the great album it is. But more about that one later….
Inside My Brain (1980) is a great 6 song EP. Musically it’s raw and heavy with lots of great riffs. The lyrics are as raw and sincere as the production. They’re politically incorrect, sophmoric and very humorous. They range from defiant, as in “Get Off The Air” (a lambasting of West Coast D.J. Rodney Bingenheimer) to nonsensical as in “Gimme Sopor:”
“Got a car, got a car-car-car
Goin’ far, in my car
Got a dog, got a dog-dog-dog
I’m a hog, and you’re a frog”
What’s beautfiul about the lyrics is that they are simple. They have a D.I.Y. spirit. These lyrics were written by guys who weren’t trying to be clever, weren’t ripping anyone off, had no “message,” couldn’t be pretentious if they tried. They are just some guys that want to rock out. The Angry Samoans prove that you can make great music without gimmicks and just by being yourself.
Inside My Brain was reissued in 1987 by PVC with a different album cover and 5 extra cuts. 3 of them are from a demo and 2 are live tracks. The demo version of “My Old Man’s A Fatso” is great. It’s a bit more subdued and slower than the version that appears on the Back From Samoa album, and I like it better. “Carson Girls” is a great little pop-punk gem, more innocent than you’d expect from this band.
Back From Samoa was initially released in 1982 by Bad Trip Records in the U.S. and by the German label Aggressive Rockproduktionen. It’s exactly what you’d expect an album to sound like by the guys who brought you Inside My Brain. The song times vary, although by and large they are very short. Some songs are less than a minute, and the longest one, “The Ballad of Jerry Curlan” is a little over 3 minutes long. No fleshing out songs with extra verses or riffs to beef up the playing time here. Back From Samoa is, as the saying goes, “all killer and no filler.” The lyrics are delightful in their crude realization and complete irreverence for almost everything and everybody. But it’s hard to imagine anyone taking it seriously. For example:
“You stupid jerk, I can’t take it no more
Your face makes me wanna puke
And your mother’s a whore”
“The Ballad of Jerry Curlan” is an unusual track for this album. As mentioned earlier, it’s longer than the others. It also fluctuates between slow and fast tempos with vocals that, at times, sound like a stoned Tom Petty.
After a few more releases, the band called it quits. But …. in 1998 frontman “Metal” Mike Saunders and drummer Bill Vockeroth returned to the studio with a new lineup and recorded a one-sided EP titled The 90’s Suck and So Do You! Forget your preconceived notions about reunions, because this record is pretty damn good. It’s not as in-your-face as the previous Angry Samoans material. With it’s softer vocals, fuzzed-out guitar tone and simple song structures, it has more in common with Metal Mike’s solo projects. I was in college when this was released and after hearing bar bands cover Third Eye Blind or Everclear for the 50th time, The 90’s Suck and So Do You! was a breath of fresh air. It still is.