Chicago's Mentally Ill were one of the more insipid, juvenile punk bands to commit recordings to tape and believe it or not, that's a big part of their appeal. The crux of their status as underground punk notables lies on the back of one song, "Gacy's Place," which uses the exploits of mass murderer John Wayne Gacy as its muse. It's offensive and obnoxious, but serial killers weren't uncommon subjects for punk bands in the late '70s and early '80s; however, the Mentally Ill bested other nascent horror-core challengers like the Child Molesters with "I'm the Hillside Strangler" and Ambient Noise with "I Was There at the Texas Chainsaw Massacre" by equaling their awful subject matter with a truly horrid, cheap, and thin production sound that few other U.S. acts could (or would) match. So how did they go from having one notable single to meriting a whole CD? Tapes of three recording sessions surfaced and Alternative Tentacles gobbled them up and spit them out as Gacy's Place: The Undiscovered Corpses. The Starbeat Sessions that produced "Gacy's Place" are the strongest of the three, and all eight songs culled from that 1979 recording date are virile blasts of inspired amateurism. For any fan of punk and early hardcore, these tracks are close to essential, and rank as some of the best the Midwest had to offer. Unfortunately, the Basement Sessions and Crawlspace Sessions that make up the rest of The Undiscovered Corpses don't hold up as well. The tracks weren't ever completed and new vocals and sax parts were added for this release, giving them an uneven quality. There's a reason they weren't finished, and it frankly sounds like many of them should have stayed that way. However, the Mentally Ill were always a group whose puzzling mix of crude production and even cruder punk sensibility left a lot of questions and few answers. One of those questions was a resounding "what if," as in what if they had continued or had recorded other material? That's a question The Undiscovered Corpses answers, even if the answer isn't as satisfying as had been hoped. In keeping with their image, little information is provided other than an interview with vocalist Sado Marquis, which is frustrating and fittingly obtuse.
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AllMusic Review by Wade Kergan