When I was a teen I had a habit of falling asleep at night with the clock radio on, only to wake up around 3 or 4am to turn it off. Most of the time Iâ€™d doze to KFJC, my local college radio station, and I was such an adept snoozer that even hardcore punk, screaming early industrial noise and The Birthday Party, three of KFJCâ€™s specialties circa 1981-84, couldnâ€™t stir me. I did get into trouble twice. Once some late-night program was playing a song called â€œThe Boilerâ€ by a spinoff band made up of members of THE SPECIALS. The song, as I remember, was fairly musically pedestrian but spooky ska number with a spoken-word tale of a woman dodging an attempted rape. At one point in the song she starts screaming, and that coincided with some hideous dream I was having, culminating in me awaking in total, abject terror. Good times!
The only other time I remember that happening was getting startled awake by a song Iâ€™m posting for you today, 1979â€™s â€œCaucasian Guiltâ€ by a short-lived San Francisco duo called NOH MERCY. Ah, I recall it like it was yesterday, the mellifluous notes that floated into my slumber as vocalist Esmerelda Kent shrieked, â€œI didnâ€™t put no JAP in a CAMP!!â€. I didnâ€™t hear the song again outside of 1-2 more times that year until an LP compilation came out in 2000 of rare, weird, ultra-DIY, 70s-80s artpunk noise called â€œI HATE THE POP GROUPâ€ that had this track on it. It originally was part of another comp, a 7â€EP from 1979 called â€œEARCOM 3â€ that I used to see around in the bins, and which had a handful of other noisy acts + two tracks from THE MIDDLE CLASS 45 (!). The other one from them on this EP â€“ the only other song in NOH MERCYâ€™s brief discography â€“ is called â€œRevolutionary Spyâ€, and itâ€™s nowhere near the caliber of â€œCaucasian Guiltâ€. Iâ€™m posting it for you completists.
This covers all the bases â€“ drums, vocals, muffled sound, anger, screaming, alternately great yet often painfully lame lyrics, admirable socio-political statements, nasty words, and wonderfully bizarre echo-chamber recording techniques. I love it. Iâ€™m including a picture of the band playing live in â€™79 at San Franciscoâ€™s MAB, courtesy of Steve Harlow, whose punk photo site you should check out. Bombs away!