Effigies

Remains Nonviewable

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In addition to being a fabulous punk band -- that alone is cause for enduring respect -- Effigies were even more exciting for the way they effortlessly smashed the reigning misconceptions in the early '80s of just what punk was all about or stood for. According to the pundits, and even some fanzines, punk in America, and its bastard son hardcore, especially the best-known Southern California kind, was made by bored, pre-college, suburban youth, by teens complaining about their parents and bucking authority figures from teachers to Ronald Reagan. But watching Effigies storm through "Quota" at CBGB or "Below the Drop" later at Rock Hotel in New York, you had a band of no-nonsense, urban, working class, mid-twenties, large-boned Midwestern buggers (the kind you don't needlessly mess with), with a penchant for harsh, steely riffs, courtesy of punishing guitarist Earl Letiecq. You could tell they were playing this sound 'cause it burned inside them. Punk meant "anyone can play," yet stunning, muscular tracks such as For Ever Grounded's "Rather See None" (their zenith, sadly not included here) and "Silent Burn" indicated advanced musicianship, guts, balls, and chops, as well as the required attitude and energy, and they were particularly explosive live. Lastly, if some people mistook punk for sophomoric self-absorption, anti-intellectualism, or snot-nose whining, there was growling John Kezdy's gripping lyrics and Malcolm Owen-ish (Ruts) impassioned delivery, spewing reasoned disgust, sarcasm, and satirical barbs at endemic political corruption (particularly Chicago's), social hypocrisy and stupidity, and abuses of the system. His scathing look at mob psychology (inspired by the bizarre Nazi marches through Skokie, IL) in "Mob Clash" (another big favorite) remains a classic of lyrical insight into reactionary human behavior. When the Effigies came back from the grave for a few special late-'80s/early-'90s shows, it proved how well their brand of powerful, big-guitar, smart rock had lasted. (Not to mention their later masterful post-punk albums, Fly on a Wire and especially Ink, which also deserve reissue.) They were a tremendous group, one of the best, brightest, and hottest of an inspired time. This 15-song retrospective is comprised of all 11 of their pre-debut-LP cuts, from their two EPs and classic "Bodybag" 7", of which the four tracks from the 1983 We're da Machine EP are particularly muscle-bound and stunning (especially "No Progress," yow!), plus four songs off For Ever Grounded. Remains Nonviewable was originally released, sort of, on vinyl six years prior on the short-lived Roadkill label, but wasn't promoted, and it immediately disappeared and went out of print. With a bigger, better label and a CD release, complete with a new, large booklet, with great old photos and liner notes, plus a full-lyric sheet (really important when the lyrics are this crucial) and Kezdy's notes on each song's subject matter and each record's recording session, this new, revamped collection should inspire all that hear it, as to what we should demand from our home-grown rock bands. That its release sparked two December 1995 original-lineup concerts in Chicago is just further cause to value it.

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