Tuesday, February 7, 2012

MIA Murder in a Foreign Place

       One of the first punk records I ever bought.  Imagine my surprise when I found out they were a band from Vegas.  I’m thinking they were the first punk band from sin city to release an LP but I don’t fuckin know. 

            In 1987 I recorded over all my heavy metal tapes and most of it was huge chunks of the Rock Avenue on KUNV.  Somehow in between songs by Lords of the New Church and the HooDoo Gurus I taped a song about Las Vegas.  I could never figure out who that band was but I rocked that fuckin song over and over on that goddamned tape thinking this was some outsiders version of what they thought Las Vegas was about. 

            It wasn’t until I saw MIA play with TSOL at Soundstage or That’s Entertainment or some shit that I finally figured it out.  They started the opening chords of that Las Vegas song and I finally put two and two together.  In my excitement I plowed into a crowd of people pressed against the stage and danced around the room like a maniac.  Aside from slammin at a handful of FSP gigs I think that was the first time I was caught up in the energy of the music and was forced to “dance” in the presence of a large crowd of my peers.  It was a great moment.  The kind of moment you can lose sight of over time.  Gotta hold on to shit like that.  This album became a staple of my young punk rock diet before I became disillusioned and disgusted.  It hasn’t lost any of it’s edge.    

            This is the only album by MIA that I ever got into.  Later records became less hardcore and more pop oriented which pissed off my hardcore blood at the time, although it’s hard to miss the poppy moments that flow through this album.  Listening to this in 2012 is a real treat although it doesn’t punch me in the nuts the same way it did in 1986.  Yeah but you only lose your virginity once and hearing my past come at me like this is still worthy of a dance although I doubt I’ll ever be in a room full of hundreds of likeminded people again in my life.  As it turned out I wasn’t in a room completely filled with likeminded folks back then so no love is lost. 

            They had a unique style that borrowed a little from that SoCal shit.  I hear anthemic TSOL moments and a few songs harmonizing in a way that is reminiscent of Channel 3 but you gotta remember MIA were contemporaries of both bands so I’d never consider it stealing.  In fact it’s a good variation on the style that makes MIA their own unique brand of degeneracy.  But that’s missing the point a bit.  They had something to say and they weren’t just a bunch of degenerate assholes.  Sure the sentiment  wasn’t all that different from what other punk bands were saying but it’s still a little more personable than the generic shit D.I. was saying.  At least on this record.  I have a demo tape of MIA’s early stuff borrowed from James Palmer.  I haven’t ripped it yet because I can’t tell what songs are what and I don’t have names for songs and that kinda bugs me.  I’ll try and give it a listen somewhere down the road and hopefully I’ll be able to share eventually. 

            Music and lyrics are pretty great on this LP.  There’s a stab at putting down nazi fuckos in the form of Boredom Is Your Reason that sums up the nazi trend in a real obvious and truthful way long before Nazism became the trend that destroyed hardcore.  They weren’t opposed to holding up a mirror to punk rock and asking their listeners to look at themselves as a few of these songs attest.  In my book that puts them head and shoulders over the vast majority of “political” punk cry babies.     

              There’s a good ratio of kick ass songs included here but the fact that these songs rarely go over two minutes means the songs I don’t like as much pass by in a blur which makes the album as a whole a serious keeper.  Small Man in a Big World rages but still keeps it super smooth.  The intro/hook to All I Know still brings a chill.  I included Who Will Survive in my compilation of nuclear war songs and it fits in snug with that paranoid nightmare.  Reality Is Killing Me used to hype the shit out of me as I flailed about in my room by myself after school.  It still makes me want to run away from the cops as I listen today.

            Hearing this brings back a lot of angst and that tangible mixture of desperation, anxiety, and full on FUCKYOU attitude.  It makes me want to spray paint a wall and try and make out with a punk chick who hates me right before I kill my fucking self.         

            I was gonna rip this record but it turns out there’s multiple blogs sharing this record for download.  Kudos to the blog linked below for sharing music that should never be forgotten.  He didn’t include the lyric sheet which I think is a huge oversight.  It’s great that he’s sharing it but I don’t think he understands just how important it was back then to see someone scream words that I was thinking about saying myself.  I guess that’s important today too right?  I’ve included a scan of the lyric sheet from my vinyl copy. 


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