Band: The Avengers
Album: Self Titled 2CD
Some bands unfortunately get lost in time and are not recognized for their important contributions. San Francisco punk rockers, the Avengers, fall into that category of pioneering groups who just don’t seem to get the credit they deserve.
The band formed around 1977 and was active for about two years. During their short run, they played around the local SF scene and even opened up for the Sex Pistols. Surprisingly it was not until after the band broke up, did their first full-length LP produced by Sex Pistols guitarist Steven Jones, get released to the public. The late LP release definitely explains why the Avengers did not receive more recognition for their contributions to the punk rock genre. Now that there is the internet, and this great two disc album, more people can discover the Avengers' raw, and very distinct style of punk rock.
The Avengers were really onto something when they started writing music back in the late seventies. Lead singer Penelope Houston was, and is still, a passionate singer with a great vocal delivery. Avenger’s guitarist Greg Ingraham is a talented musician who can create furious, yet very catchy, sounding riffs. Bassist Jimmy Wilsey and drummer Danny Furious, together make up a great rhythm section that gives the band’s sound an extra kick of pure punk force.
The first disc features material from the band's self-titled album. All the songs display that vicious defiant punk rock attitude. The opening song, “We Are the One,” is an unapologetic fist raising anthem that is appropriate for the time it was written. I really like the heavy crunchy sounding distorted opening guitar chords that set up Penelope’s vocals. The chorus resonates with certain feelings that I have about life, and its simplistic words convey a powerful message. Another great song that really stands out is, “Open Your Eyes.” I swear my generation should to listen to this song, because their current state of supposedly good music is utter garbage. They need to open their eyes and listen to more groups like the Avengers! “No Martyr” and “Desperation” continue that rebellious style with catch riffs and rock’n rhythms. I hear some surf rock influence in both songs that can be heard in later punk bands.
The second half of the first CD finishes strong with tons of angry uplifting sing along punk songs. The band does a smashing cover of the Rolling Stones' “Paint It Black.” Compared to Mick Jagger, I prefer Penelope’s voice. She uses her dynamic rang to jump from sounding soft and pleasant, to vicious and pissed off. Still, out of the all the songs on both discs, “The American In Me,” is by far my favorite Avengers song. This track exemplifies the spirit of punk and questions the mass entity of control. Penelope describes the perfect loyal naive American, and then reverses the famous JFK line about asking what the people can do for their country. She presents the idea that we need to ask what the hell has our country been doing to us! Greg’s guitar playing during the song is intense and his lead guitar fills during one of the choruses are full of explosive rage.
Now, CD 2 offers listeners a chance to hear seventeen tracks that range from demos to rarities. I understand the claim that demos are only added to an album so the record company can increase the price. However, this second CD does not disappoint. The band’s demos capture a group of four musicians who working hard to craft a rebellious form of rock music that could appeal to youths who were disillusioned with mainstream rock and disco. Songs like “Teenage Rebel,” “The Good, the Bad, and the Kowalskis,” “Summer of Hate” and “Your Parent's Sins” are basic defiant punk rock tracks aimed at challenging the times in which they were created. There are also some demo versions of songs that are on the first CD. I find this gives listeners a chance to hear how the songs evolved over the band’s career. I would say that the second CD acts as an audio piece of history, and is proof of the Avengers' pioneering punk rock sound.
The Avengers may not get mentioned in the same vein as the Ramones or the Sex Pistols when pertaining to the history of punk, but in my opinion, they were one of the best sounding seventies punk groups. Their style was genuine and expressed rebellious feelings shared by others who did not follow the mindless mainstream herd. This captivating style of punk rock music will hopefully inspire more generations of fans, especially now that there are more mediums available for exposure. I highly recommend the Avengers for anyone who wants to releases their in frustrations and awaken their mind by listening to great punk rock music.