The Screamers

In a Better World

The Screamers - In a Better World ©2001 Extravertigo/Xeroid
Disc 1:
1. Vertigo
2. The Beat Goes On
3. Magazine Love
4. Government Love Affair (Don't Pay The Whore)
5. I Wanna Hurt
6. Peer Pressure
7. If I Can't Have What I Want, I Don't Want Anything
8. Punish Or Be Damned
9. It's A Violent World
10. I'm Going Steady With Twiggy
11. Matar Dolores
12. I'm A Mensch
13. The Scream
14. Need A Head-On (Why The World)
15. 122 Hours Of Fear
16. Vertigo
17. Last 4 Digits
18. Magazine Love
19. Beat Goes On
20. Punish Or Be Damned
21. In A Better World

Disc 2:
1. The Beat Goes On
2. In A Better World
3. Punish Or Be Damned
4. If I can't have what I want, I don't want anything
5. GO guy
6. Magazine love
7. Vertigo
8. Sex boy
9. Violent world
10. Roxy radio spot
11. Need A Head-On (Why The World)
12. Eva Braun
13. 122 Hours of Fear
14. Mater Dolores
15. Thru The Flames (She Frightens)
16. Magazine Love
17. Vertigo
18. Sex Boy
19. If I Can't Have What I Want, I Don't Want Anything

During the late 70s, The Screamers were one of the premier acts in Los Angeles' burgeoning punk rock scene. They routinely sold out such venues as Whisky a Go Go and the Roxy (who normally only booked bands with recording contracts), yet during their existence, never got around to recording a proper album. The band featured an abnormal lineup, eschewing guitars for a pair of keyboard players (including Paul Roessler) and a prominent bass player. However, despite their prominence on the live circuit and influence on many other bands such as the Dead Kennedys, it is a shame this band never got themselves into a studio for an actual release. Their recorded output consists of live bootlegs and demo outtakes. This 2001 compilation collects a good chunk of these sources into a two CD retrospective.

The Screamers were quite possibly a bit too tuned into the art rock world, which resulted in the lack of a properly recorded release. Their intentions at the time were to release their first album in video format. Obviously this never materialized, which ultimately has demoted the band's stature in the tomes of early punk rock history. Black Flag, for instance, also blazed the club trail but they also coupled their intense touring schedule with quite a bit of recorded output. Since The Screamers' existence has essentially been reduced to low quality bootlegs and lo-fi demos, it's quite difficult to really feel the impact they must have had during their prime. One gets a chalk outline of their music, but the details are somewhat lost in the degraded quality. It's tough to visualize what it must have been like to be in the crowd during the 1979 Whisky show included in this collection.

While In a Better World may be the most complete documentation of a band who avoided a more formalized method, it's not very easy to grasp what this band represented at the time. I have never had much of a tolerance for bootleg recordings, particularly those with relatively poor sound quality. Obviously I was not there during the Screamers existence so it's impossible to grasp this music on a nostalgic level. In a Better World mostly illustrates the tragedy that more than a handful of interesting bands of the era failed to ever get into the studio. Considering the ease of recording technology today, it's a strange glimpse into a very strange world.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/2009

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