Friday, 13 August 2010

MX-80 Sound – Big Hits / Hard Attack (1976/1977)

MX-80 Sound, or just MX-80, were one of those very unique 70s bands that are often overlooked and always remain underrated. Formed in the early 70s in Indiana, their first influences were Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, The Stooges. They managed to release EP "Big Hits - Hard Pop From the Hoosiers" on their own in 1975 or '76, when they were a five piece band with two drummers. That led Island Records to take an interest in them, but sadly their first proper album "Hard Attack" (1977) was never realized in USA, only in England. Later, they hooked up with The Residents in San Francisco and released next two albums on Ralph Records: "Out Of The Tunnel" (1980) and "Crowd Control" (1981). These were more in the vein of post-punk, but too hard-rocking for the punk crowd.

This is a 1995. CD release that merged Big Hits EP and Hard Attack. The music here is so unique in its eclectic ways that no wonder they were so confusing to the listeners and labels at the time. It’s almost impossible to classify them. They’ve been called post-punk, proto-punk, art-dada-heavy metal, art-prog-punk, psych-hard rock, pre-punk noise rock, etc. All these terms sound even crazier than the band. The best one I’ve heard is Acid Punk, and that’s what I’m going to use. The sound was an unlikely marriage of hard rock/metal riffs and solos, prog-rock shifts, changes and odd time signatures and punk immediacy, simplicity and energy, all accompanied by a deadpan vocal delivery a la Jonathan Richman of Modern Lovers - like a cross between Television/Modern Lovers and Captain Beefhaert/Motorhead. Just imagine a punk band that not only knows how to play instruments, it also does it with such a virtuosic quality, but is never afraid to lose itself in a wall of sound, the grooving energy and a unique sense of humor are never compromised.

I suspect that MX-80 Sound’s music had a certain influence on noise rock of the 80s – Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers, Jesus Lizard etc, especially on the latter two. At their time they couldn’t exactly find an audience. They were too complex and hard rocking for punks, too simple and energetic for prog-heads and too out there for hard rockers/metal-heads. Hopefully, now, in these times of post-this and post-that they'll be more appreciated. So, punks and prog-heads, this is something for both of you.

Big Hits (1976)

1 Train to Loveland/You Turn Me On/SCP/Till Death Do Us Part

2 Myonga Von Bontee/Boy Trouble Girl Trouble/Tidal Wave

Hard Attack (1977)

3 Man On The Move

4 Kid Stuff

5 Fascination

6 Summer '77

7 PCB's

8 Crushed Ice

9 Tidal Wave

10 Theme From Checkmate

11 Facts-Facts

12 You're Not Alone

13 Civilized/Demeyes

14 Afterbirth/Aftermath

Bonus Track

15 Sad Girls



  1. That is a pretty cool piece of writing-"Crowd Control" is all I've really heard from them,but I like Shellac very much,and I've seen Steve Albini wearing MX-80 Sound t-shirts - not a bad thanks again,I'm sure I'll enjoy this ;)