The Bags

Disco's Dead

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Only the second official Bags-only release, this three-song EP augments what little appeared on compilations since the L.A. punk greats split up in 1980 -- leaving behind but one two-song 7" and a compilation track, all on Dangerhouse. A fourth song from this 1978 session surfaced two years later, and two live compilations have patched in a little more of the plot. But Disco's Dead frustrates as it historically entices, for it highlights how little studio recording this fabulous high-octane outfit and its wild lead singer, Alice Bag, did over three years. The A-side, from a rare 1979 session, is that famous chant, "Disco's dead, long live rock & roll!" heard everywhere back then in the late '70s, when rock fans were rebelling over that bland sound's sudden radio and culture domination. It is way too short to give you the full Bags treatment, but Craig Lee's harsh, stop-start riffs are similar to his hot playing on the four Dangerhouse session cuts. And Alice sounds as cutting and demented-barking as ever. The two B-sides are bad-aural-quality live recordings of previously unknown songs, "Why Tomorrow" and "Sanyo Theme." Hmm. Could it be that the label is saving the primo studio and live recordings for the hoped-for retrospective LP? Or is this the best that can be found and listeners are lucky to get even this much? Are any of the tapes of their other few studio forays extant or are they lost forever? Are there more live recordings of the hot quality of the Live from the Masque comp or the more passable Decline soundtrack? The search is no doubt on, but for now, this teaser should throw welcome light on a too-forgotten great band, if nothing else. And, with three heretofore unknown songs, however crudely recorded, it's a historical artifact for punk students if not of general interest like the four Dangerhouse cuts.