11.02.2005

Love God, Love One Another



Black Humor Love God, Love One Another LP (Fowl, 1982)

I first heard of the band Black Humor as many others did, via a review in an early Maximum Rocknroll, in which the band was taken to task for the reverse label of this LP being a graphic of a swastika made from crutches, song titles such as Auf Weidersehn Juden, and lyrics making fun of teenage political punks who had the answer to all the world's problems. The review received a reply from one of the band members. He stated that the symbolism of a swastika made out of crutches should be pretty obvious, that Auf Weidersehn was about people playing victim and the band had Jewish band members who agreed with the song's sentiments, and that teenage political punks do not have the answer to all the world's problems. He added that any intelligent person would have been able to figure these things out and if anyone wanted to hear what Black Humor was about than they should check the record out themselves and ignore MRR.

Now I've never been a MRR basher and think that many of its critics tend to pick mercilessly at a few obvious faults and blow them up out of proportion. They give MRR too much credit for "brainwashing" the scene and not enough for aiding the internationalization of hardcore punk and the revival of the DIY punk (including garage punk) scene of the 1990s. However, it is very easy to box MRR up as just some piece of agitprop when moronic reviews such as the Black Humor one appeared in its pages. To MRR's credit they let the band respond to the review (to which MRR replied that they would take a wait and see attitude toward the band).

This little controversy wedged itself deep enough in my teenage mind that when I came across a copy at a Tower Records warehouse sale in the early 80s, I snatched it up. Thinking I was in for the most offensive record ever made, I was sorely disappointed when I got home and played it. Ironically, the record from that haul that grabbed me the most was the pre-nazi Skrewdriver's All Skrewed Up. The Black Humor record? It got filed between Black Flag and Black Randy, taken out once a year for a relisten...and it still didn't click.

Fast forward to the late 90s and Min from the A Frames is raving about this band Black Humor. I tell him I have the record and I'll trade him for something. I don't know what garbage I got from him. Maybe it was twenty-five bucks. I don't know, but six months later, I find another copy in a local record store. I buy it and play it thinking maybe Min is right. Nope. Nothing. I throw it on ebay and sell it for forty bucks. A couple years pass and yet another copy shows up in a record store. It is priced at $3.98 so I buy it. I get home and throw it in a stack. Some months go by and I finally get to it. I don't know what it was but that listen it finally sinks in. What makes this revelation so strange is that the record should have grabbed me years earlier.

Black Humor's one and only LP has the mood of Cleveland 1976. You can easily imagine them on some bill with the Styrenes or Pere Ubu. They share the same raw emotional streak that runs through the Electric Eels or Rocket from the Tombs, as well as the darkness of the Easter Monkeys of a few years later. But Black Humor wasn't from Cleveland. They were from San Francisco, home of the most politically minded bands of the day, many of them playing at speeds and with pep far more spunky than what came out of Cleveland.

Ahhh but Frisco was also home of Flipper, not to mention a healthy synth punk and pre-dance industrial scene. Looked at in that context, Black Humor fits very nicely in the city's "art punk" underground. Black Humor takes Flippers nihilism and runs with it. They lyrics are hateful, wishing people dead or being glad that someone has died. The song titles are among my favorites: Too Stupid to Die, Kill Them!, I Should've let 'em Die! Subtlety has little room in the words of Black Humor. The music, though, does have undertones and switches mood. It also has a sound that is markedly San Francisco and that is because the guy recording it is Tom Mallon, who also turned the knobs for Toiling Midgets, Flipper, Arkansas Man, Fuck Ups, and many other of Frisco's glummest.

From what I've been able to find out, Love God... only came out in a pressing of 500, so it is a miracle that I found three copies of the thing. Each copy is in a hand made cover. About half the songs on the record are as good as any American DIY punk ever made. The other half are okay.

Comments:
I'm so glad you're spreading the word on Black Humor. Erin A Frame turned me on to them a little while ago and I am forever grateful.
 
I love this!
 
never heard of this band. thanks for turning me on to them with this post. please post any more interesting and obscure synth-punk on Crud Crud anytime you feel like it. Keep up the good work Crud Crud.
 
great! the vocals kinda remind me of DNA era Arto Lindsay...or someone else...I can't place it. Track 4 is a bit of a stinky turd though.

maybe I will feel the same way someday about this "DEMO-MO Demolish NYC" piece of shit that I never got rid of. or maybe the BBQ-KILLERS. hmmm....I doubt it.
 
the BBQ Killers ! i bought that for the stupid cover way way back when. what a piece of shit that one is. i tried and tried on that for years and finally gave up.
 
Hurrah. I have to say, I am not a record collector except for this Black Humor record. Each cover being hand made is only half the story -- mostly they are awesome, wall-worthy art pieces. Constance & I have found six copies and three of them are now framed and on the wall. One we gave to Laura. One we destroyed to have a mold made by our friend Jesse Paul Miller.

I sometimes think Dragnet should reissue it on CD, but haven't convinced myself. I think the 50-200 people who would like it already have it, or a dubbed version or mp3s.

But you didn't sell or trade me the record -- you had just sold it right before I emailed you for it.
 
Yeah, this is good.
 
bastards...i have 2 and have seen one other copy, and all of them had blank black DJ sleeves...i didn't think it ever had a cover. poopie!
 
I remember my friend Kevin had this back in high school. 83-84 The cover on his was way crazy. Sitting at his house stoned listening to crazy records. What an oasis in suburbia. This lp and the Dicks\Big Boys split lp are two that realy stand out in my memory. Oh yeah, and the Nip Drivers "Kill Whitey"
 
Hi, this is George from Black Humor. We made 1000 copies and the only reason there was no cover is because Dan was supposed to pay for the cover after I payed for the pressing. When the time came there was no money from Dan and I thought what the fuck, lets just de-face other peoples records and use them as our cover. I have very fond memories of these times. Me and Dan smoked alot of pot and took plenty of Acid. We just laughed alot about everything and wanted to make some of the most disqusting songs ever. "Aufwiedersehn Juden" was actually just a drunken cover version of "Hey Jude" made by Dans neighbor, Joe Duffy, on a broken cassette recorder. That piece had us in stiches, rolling around the floor of Toms studio. It was first called "Hey Jew" but we opted for the German title just to be bad guys. Side one was songs by me and Dan and the Lyrics were inspired by the stuff Dan would say to me. Side two is the more collage/noise side which was made by Dan, Me, Patty Costa, Joe Duffy, Quentin Lorente, and others. I can send people cd copies if they are interested. Shipping (from Germany) and cd cost only. Dan always said that it would be on the wall somewhere for 40 bucks one day. Send me a message if you want to hear this musik:
http://www.myspace.com/daswohlfuehlmodul
 
People who are smart enough to like and understand this record, should also try to find and check out the "Tacky Souvenirs Of Pre-Revolutionary America" LP by CULTURCIDE. A band from Houston/TX, released in 1986.
 
I feel glum.
 
hiya....like yourself i first heard of this via MRR,and being a political punk didn't import it.however it's the one of only two LP's i regret not getting(the other being Code Of Honor debut).don't believe in record 'collecting'..(music is meant to be heard,not put in plastic sleeves nailed to a wall.)..but would love to hear these songs.finally got the mp3's of CoH..anyone got a link for the Black Humor LP?loved reading all the comments here.
 
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