1. Wanna Be Manor
2. Urban Struggle
3. The Legend of Pat Brown 4. Pirate's Life
5. H.B. Hotel
6. Anarchy Burger (Hold the Government)
California's The Vandals surfaced at time when many of their peers were focused on social issues or simply being tough guys playing tough music and forming very tough, macho slampits at concerts. The Vandals' humorous style was based on songs with plenty of jokes, yet were given strong enough songwriting to avoid being a one-listen novelty act. Peace Thru Vandalism, the band's initial six song EP, could very well be their finest statement of youthful punk mixed with some hilarious lyrics. Although The Vandals have lasted over the years in various incarnations, many fans point to this particular era as their best. Perhaps everyone is stuck in a single time period, unable to move on, but that aside, Peace Thru Vandalism is just great.
Whether the band is singing about trying to be a cowboy in "Urban Struggle" (complete with a pisstake on the theme to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) or providing lessons on civil disobiedence in "Anarchy Burger (Hold the Government)", The Vandals knock three of these songs right out of the park and do a pretty fine job with the other three. "Anarchy Burger" indeed offers up some advice on how to ransack the system with such suggestions as "Go to school naked" or the ever rock solid "Say 'fuck' in front of your mom", which is sure to topple the government of your choice. "The Legend of Pat Brown" (who, incidentally, tried to run the cops down) is a mid paced number that is sure to get everyone in your vehicle of mass destruction to sing along. Vocalist "Stevo" has a marginally tuneful but mostly snotty delivery and makes the most of the limited gifts he has. No one in the band in 1982 was going to win any awards for their ability, but they actually were slightly better than most of the hardcore acts who knew one note for singing and two chords for the guitar.
The Vandals could double those amounts.
While the early 80s American punk scene, particularly in California, produced some very notable and influential bands such as Minutemen, Black Flag and numerous others, we shouldn't overlook the goofy Vandals and their great debut. It's arguable if they ever came close to equalling this EP. So with that in mind, it's safe to say that if you own but one Vandals album, this is the one to get.
Review by John Chedsey
Review date: 05/2010
2. Bad Birthday Bash
3. Master Race (in Outer Space)
4. Big Bro Vs. Johnny Sako
5. Mohawk Town
6. Viking Suit
7. Hocus Pocus
8. I'm A Fly
9. Slap Of Luv
12. Wanna Be Manor
13. Urban Struggle
14. The Legend Of Pat Brown
15. Pirate's Life
16. H.B. Hotel
17. Anarchy Burger (hold The Government)
One of the original prankster/humor oriented bands, the Vandals were able to gleen maybe an short EP's worth of funny material before tapping out, as this pairing of their first two releases shows. And since When In Rome Do as the Vandals is placed first on the CD, though released later, you can easily see how far the band fell after their debut - and hilarious - Peace Thru Vandalism. Frankly, most of When In Rome is lacking both musically and in the subject matter. "Viking Suit", which is about a man who photographs little boys, is more disturbing than funny. Other tracks just tend to remind you of that class clown wannabe who tried too hard to be funny and ended up being seen as pathetic instead. Moreover, the music itself comes across as bland, even when they try throwing in turntable scratches (as on "Ladykiller") or spaghetti western influence ("Mohawk Town", which is at least moderately amusing).
However, Peace Thru Vandalism is one of my all time favorite early punk releases. Perhaps the humor was less forced but it comes across the way it was intended. "Urban Struggle" is a romping, energetic take on the cowboy scene. "H.B. Hotel" apes Elvis Presley before diving into a hateful rant about the chick who gave the singer "a crotch that itched". And of course, life would not be complete without the epic "The Legend of Pat Brown", which is the type of song designed for friends singing along while cruising around town in the car. And because of the six songs of Peace Thru Vandalism, this CD becomes somewhat mandatory for anyone into punk. Just be prepared to hit the skip button often until you reach the good stuff.
Review by John Chedsey
Review date: 02/2000