Ray Reagan and the Rayguns – S/T

http://www.pumf.net

Social punk at its best? I’d certainly think so. This LP has lain hidden in some grimy basement for nearly 30 years until given a release by the marvellous Pumf records. It’s an interesting, occasionally very funny release; set over a swampy mash up of then-current musical styles and attitudes, all tinged with an acid-head outlook. (And some of the synths are very hippy it must be said). To say that this record is a faithful chronicle of alternative life in the eighties is something I’m less certain of stating, but for sure it’s a personal one; vivid, and empirical as well as often being a banner for standard punk concerns. I’m sure they liked Crass.

This is an eccentric record too; for all the addressing of “classic” issues such as being busted by the fuzz in Salt and Pepper, you get the feeling that the band truly lived in a twilight zone of their own making. Check out Dopamine; it’s that little bit mental... Opener Little Purple Children and Big Business are mid-tempo rants, coming on like a concerned neighbour tutting over the wall at some infant misdemeanour (is the system that gets it in the neck most, at all times). And what on earth is going on in tracks like The Warm Stripe, A Sermon on Account and Radio Broadcast?

It seems that the rules, the accepted conventions about how to write songs, the lyrics… are often that little bit intense and based on ignoring the outside world. In some weird way it’s a very straight take on the Residents’ attitude (without any of the strange outer space noises); in a word, obsessive. Though stylistically it can be a very conventional folk-punk record: Salt and Pepper sounds like with a drugged Wonder Stuff starring Will Sergeant on guitar.  And there’s the obligatory dubby skank (Gestalt), which veers off into some lo-fi scuzzy workout at times.

Whatever this record is, it’s a real charmer, and made by decent people.