Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ain't nothin to do but listen to the fucking Dead Boys


These days I usually stalk around the streets getting more and more pissed at everything and everyone I see. But there are some upsides to being an angry teenager again, one of which is that it's actually pretty fun, and another of which is that I feel like I understand the Dead Boys on a whole new level. They were a band I started listening to just as my taste was moving away from classic punk rock and into more metallic territory, so I never really spent enough time with them. Now I get it, and it feels good.

The funny thing is, Dead Boys were pretty damn metal for a punk band in '78. Listen to those chugging passages between the open chords, the wailing lead guitar, and the general air of thuggish heaviness that was totally absent from the NYC punk scene of the time. In fact, Dead Boys caught shit from a lot of pussy art-punk critics, who complained that they were "too metal." Remember that at this time metal meant, you know, Sabbath or Judas Priest or something. Like Motorhead in England, the Dead Boys were already breaking scene taboos and upping the ante for aggression.

"Ain't Nothin' To Do" reeks of antisocial rage, frustrated sexuality, and a consuming drive towards debauchery. In fact, that pretty much describes everything the Dead Boys wrote, but to me this song really nails it. I can't tell exactly what Stiv Bators is screaming in this live version, but at around 1:12 in the studio version (equivalent to 1:17 here) he spits out one of the punkest lyrics ever: "Gonna beat up the next hippie I see, maybe I'll be beatin' up you!" Don't be a dead hippie, be a Dead Boy.

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