Monday, October 22, 2018


U.X.A.-"In the U.X.A." from the compilation LP TOOTH AND NAIL

Allow me a moment to set the table before we devour this particular morsel.

I was at Jim's Records in Pittsburgh PA having recently discovered punk rock via an indie radio station and fanzines scanning the back cover of TOOTH AND NAIL I recognize some of the bands. West coast punk - the very strain that had knocked me out on the one-sided YES LA comp I picked up a few weeks earlier.

I had already slipped some LP lost to the mists of time under my arm for purchase, and I could never afford more than one in those days. Desperately wanting to hear TOOTH AND NAIL, I point out a song titled "Mercenaries" listed on the back. Roger was an avid reader of SOLDIER OF FORTUNE magazine and had said that if he didn't get a girlfriend soon he was going to become a mercenary and fight in Rhodesia. I didn't see how that could turn out too well, seeing as how Roger was a short guy with no gun training who, like me, was routinely one of the earliest casualties of dirty dodge ball in P.E. class.

"Look Rog, there's a song called 'Mercenaries'."

My ruse is as thin as Gramma's underpants.

"Don't worry, I'm getting it," he says, flashing a knowing sneer, as if I had pointed out the song for any reason except to borrow the LP as soon as possible and tape it.

Which I did. Thanks Rog.

And man, what a way to start an LP! First some WW2 fatherland martial music intro to get the blood pumping before leading into a hotcha riff with fantastic female vocals. And the lyrics, some kind of "famous doctor", "slippery terror" and an enigmatic reference to "the frozen city of Baltimore". In a few years, with the advent of hardcore punk and sloganeering of the "us good/Reagan bad" variety, wild lyrics like that which could have come from a Nik Turner fever dream would be unthinkable.

By the time the anthemic "In the U.X.A."/"Why Did You Die Today?" chorus erupted from my cheapo stereo I was out of my gourd with crazed rock abandon...and thanks to the everything-at-your-greedy-fingertips cyborg world we inhabit now you can experience that same abandon without resorting to the Radio Shack C-90 cassette tape I had it on!

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