Circle Jerks

Picture of Circle Jerks

Group Sex

Circle Jerks - Group Sex ©1980 Frontier
1. Deny Everything
2. I Just Want Some Skank
3. Beverly Hills
4. Operation
5. Back Against The Wall
6. Wasted
7. Behind The Door
8. World Up My Ass
9. Paid Vacation
10. Don't Care
11. Live Fast Die Young
12. What's Your Problem
13. Group Sex
14. Red Tape

As anyone with even the slightest knowledge of American punk history knows, singer Keith Morris was the original vocalist for Black Flag, recording their infamous debut seven inch, Nervous Breakdown (and if you didn't know this, boy do I have some hot news for you!). He left the band soon afterwards and eventually reemerged with a equally nasty, abrasive and loud hardcore punk band called the Circle Jerks, formed with future Bad Religion guitarist Greg Hetson. The band was infamous for their chaotic, violent shows and relentless live performance and their skanking cartoon figure from Wild in the Streets became the fashion template for young punks everywhere.

Their debut album, Group Sex, was a very brief but focused collection of vicious, festering hardcore that blitzed the listener with fourteen tracks in something around sixteen minutes. Their sound was not too dissimilar from Black Flag, with Morris's snotty, tuneless shouting and talk-singing providing the anger, spit and satire of Southern California and life for a punker in general. The band, while not as honed as they would be on their second album, Wild in the Streets, competently knocks the doors down and is relatively tight for what amounts to an out of control type of act. A handful of these songs are infamous: "World Up My Ass", "I Just Want Some Skank", to name a couple. The CD version also happens to repeat all fourteen tracks as "bonus tracks". On a whole, this release is one of the more important and satisfying examples of the budding American hardcore punk scene and deserves inclusion in any serious punk connoisseur's collection of historical, landmark recordings.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2001

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Wild In The Streets

Circle Jerks - Wild In The Streets ©1982 Frontier
1. Wild In The Streets
2. Leave Me Alone
3. Stars And Stripes
4. 86'd (as Good As Gone)
5. Meet The Press
6. Trapped
7. Murder The Disturbed
8. Letter Bomb
9. Question Authority
10. Defamation Innuendo
11. Moral Majority
12. Forced Labor
13. Political Stu
14. Just Like Me/Put A Little Love In Your Heart

Although Group Sex seems to be the album most defer to when it comes to the Circle Jerks, Wild in the Streets is far and away my favorite release from this band. The band's second album, released in 1982, features a very powerful production (particularly for early 80s hardcore standards) and a bevy of bopping songs that will have nearly any fan flailing around the room in an effort to mimic the skankin' kid on the album sleeve. From start to finish, the album is a whirlwind of frantic energy, sneering vocals and social commentary. Even if one chooses to ignore Keith Morris' observations on the emptiness of suburban life and being the bottom of the work food chain, the sheer momentum of the music should move furniture, spray paint walls and break windows.

Without a doubt, the opening title track is one of my favorite classics of the entire early hardcore punk movement. The unbridled energy of the song still gets my ticker racing even after all these years. From that point on, there is rarely a low moment in any of the songs as the band tackles pretentious record critics ("Defamation Innuendo"), the superficiality of suburban life ("Murder the Disturbed") and take on classic rock radio staples ("Put a Little Love in Your Heart").

For budget oriented record buyers, this album has been paired on compact disc with the band's debut. Wild in the Streets, at least to this pair of ears, is every bit the classic of Group Sex and stands as one of the best releases of 80s hardcore.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2002

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Golden Shower Of Hits

Circle Jerks - Golden Shower Of Hits ©1983 Allegiance Records
1. In Your Eyes
2. Parade Of The Horribles
3. Under The Gun
4. When The Shit Hits The Fan
5. Bad Words
6. Red Blanket Room
7. High Price On Our Heads
8. Coup D'Etat
9. Product Of My Environment
10. Rats Of Reality
11. Junk Mail
12. Golden Shower Of Hits (Jerks On 45)

Golden Shower of Hits, the third release by the Circle Jerks, finds the hardcore act beginning the phase of their career where they do nothing but churn out retreads and spin their stylistic wheels. Granted, a band such as this isn't exactly going to redefine the boundaries of punk rock or usher in a new era of post-punk, but other bands were able to at least consistently write some good tunes. While Golden Showers isn't exactly horrible, it isn't terribly inspiring either. The music comes across as simply throwing some songs together in order to get out and tour. The spark that made the band's first two albums such classics is not in evidence here. Each of the first two albums had plenty of songs one could point to as extremely impressive or fun, but nothing stands out on Golden Showers. It is the type of album that is mediocre enough to stunt interest in future recordings of a band, although not bad enough to generate ill will. The early eighties produced a wealth of great punk and hardcore albums, but this one is miles away from being included in that category. However, at least it escapes being one of thousands of truly bad releases that also came out in those days. Needless to say, if you never got around to buying or hearing this, you're not missing a whole lot.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/2007

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