Music » CD Reviews

The Pagans

Shit Street; The Pink Album . . . Plus! (Crypt)

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For nearly two years in the late '70s, the Pagans worked harder, played louder, lived faster, and left a messier scar on the local music scene than just about any other band could have dreamed. With feathered short hair and a wardrobe of jeans, button-down shirts, tank tops, and sneakers, the Pagans looked more like high school ruffians than punks, but their look was deceiving. With only four "properly" released singles, the Pagans slashed and burned their way into Cleveland's music history with a caustic mix of wit, anger, and substance-fueled mania.

The first of the four singles, a ditty titled "What's This Shit Called Love" (probably the band's best known tune), leads off the compilation Shit Street with as much vitality as it held over 20 years ago. Also featuring the pissed-off anti-work song "Street Where Nobody Lives," the pure punk "Haven't Got the Time," and the near perfect Pagans theme "I Juvenile," Shit Street aptly documents the band's scattered creativity. The remainder of Shit Street is a gratifying mix of songs that were bound for nowhere, once the Pagans' first full studio record never happened. The second half of the disc is a manic live set of tunes from shows the band played just before imploding in 1979. The Pink Album . . . Plus! is ostensibly a reissue of the Pagans' 1983 Pink Album, an assortment of basement tapes, radio blasts, live stuff, and other sounds that, in true punk fashion, was performed by various mutations of the band. The sound is rough and the selections spotty, but the energy is utterly unparalleled.

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