Most old punks making the rounds of the club circuit are running on fumes or nostalgia. But not British hardcore titans G.B.H., who are supporting a surprisingly strong new album, Ha Ha -- their latest effort in a Ramones-like run. Since forming in 1979, G.B.H. has never broken up; a single switch behind the drum kit has been its sole lineup change.
Flirting with metal, but never succumbing to it, G.B.H.'s blue-collar, sing-along skank is usually catchy in direct proportion to its political incorrectness. Classics like "Slut," "Big Women," and "Limpwristed" left a mark on the circle-pit scene, though their visiting-foreigner status and lack of an iconic frontman left them respected, if not particularly storied.
Supporting the Birmingham boys are Los Angeles punk legends the Circle Jerks. Like GBH, the Jerks' vintage material holds up remarkably well, and the lyrics sound as if they were written yesterday. Take this line from 1981's "Paid Vacation": "You'll be fighting in the desert . . . It's not Vietnam/Just another oil company scam/Get your money out, place your bets/It's Afghanistan." Singer Keith Morris hasn't lived up to his loud command to live fast and die young, but .500 is one hell of a batting average.