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SOCAL PUNK LEGENDS T.S.O.L TONIGHT (9/17) AT ASBURY LANES

Tonight at Asbury Lanes, SoCal punk legends T.S.O.L play alongside Jersey based The Scandals and Stag Party with DJ Jack the Ripper spinning old school punk. Doors at 7PM. $15.

Here’s a bit of history about T.S.O.L.

Formed in 1978 in Long Beach, California, T.S.O.L. originated as a hardcore punk band, developing from earlier bands Johnny Koathanger and the Abortions, and SS Cult. Later on Vicious Circle would form and T.S.O.L. would take a brief hiatus.

Their first vinyl is a tough, politically inspired five-song EP that bristles with excitement. Ron Emory’s thrashing guitar provides a steady foundation for vocalist Jack Greggors, credited on the sleeve with “mouth and other organs.” These fine songs, like “Abolish Government/Silent Majority, ” are super-hot.

Moving from Posh Boy to Frontier, TSOL made other changes as well. For one thing, Greggors changed his name to Alex Morgon; more importantly, the group abandoned politics to join the trendy horror/shock-rock movement. Along with a cover depicting the grim reaper in a boneyard, the lyrical themes of Dance With Me are largely those of B-movie scare flicks, and nearly as much fun. While other bands have proven useless at this genre, TSOL succeed because their brutal, razor-edge sound keeps its musical conviction, regardless of the subject matter.

TSOL’s fondness for atmosphere reached into more experimental territory on the four-song Weathered Statues, an assured exploration of spacey, sorrowful post-punk textures and even dub trappings. The record is as fitting a primer as possible for the full-on creative renaissance to come.

Grisham and drummer Todd Barnes adopted new names for Beneath the Shadows and added a keyboard player. Dropping any remaining connection with hardcore, this newly refined approach takes the group on a neo-psychedelic trip, but with bonus amounts of rock drive and character. A great record from an always surprising band.

Singer Jack Takeyourpick selected another surname (Loyd) and joined Cathedral of Tears, which issued a weirdly commercial six-song mini-album — raunchy guitars, synthesizers and a danceable resemblance to both the Cult and Dead or Alive.

The aptly named Change Today? unveils another stage in TSOL’s ongoing impermanence: a new label and two new members. Stalwart guitarist Emory and bassist Mike Roche are joined by Joe Wood (guitar/vocals) and Mitch Dean (drums). Fielding a whomping near-punk rock sound, the foursome is aggressive, coherent and lucid, singing shapeless, insubstantial songs that pack a sonic wallop if nothing else. Not a bad record, but not a primo effort.

Remarkably retaining both lineup and label, TSOL issued Revenge, a powerful LP that shows the group still vital and active. The mixture of Alice Cooper/Golden Earring-styled ’70s arena rock and traditional LA punk (with a dollop of X-into-the Doors on the title track) could have soared with better (or at least more consistent) material, but there’s nothing wrong with the self-assured, energetic performances. (Incidentally, Revenge includes a new song entitled “Change Today.”)

Thoughts of Yesterday — a reissue of the first EP with the added bonus the terrific genre-defying Weathered Statues 7-inch and a speedier alternate version of Dance With Me’s “Peace Thru Power” — is an essential document of a once-great band. Just try to keep from laughing at the embarrassingly fawning liner notes from label head Robbie Fields. (A bunch of tracks from punkrockers Pariah fill out the CD. The 1992 CD of includes Tender Fury.)

By Hit and Run, TSOL’s mutation from hardcore standard-bearers through progressive new wavers into tattooed blues-metal boys was complete, resulting in a record of rote fist-punchers, vigorously delivered but tired-sounding all the same. On TSOL Live (recorded at a California date in January ’88), the band sloughs off a full set of Change Today-forward originals as well as who-cares covers of “All Along the Watchtower” and “Roadhouse Blues.” Well-recorded, but pretty tepid….”

The Asbury Lanes is located at 209 4th Ave. in Asbury Park, NJ. www.asburylanes.com

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6 Responses to “SOCAL PUNK LEGENDS T.S.O.L TONIGHT (9/17) AT ASBURY LANES”

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