Completely random find. As I was parsing through the various Commodores and Jim Reeves albums at the local antique mall, suddenly this black and white, somewhat DIY-press-looking thing popped out at me. It was literally between a Poco record and a Christmas compilation. What the hell?
So, of course I start looking it over, trying to find some information on it. It’s a split album, one side per band. Malachi Krunch and Sold On Murder. The Malachi Krunch side has some text that implies their EP is titled American Realities along with a picture of two people in hats, glasses, handkerchief masks and holding guns. Its kind of intimidating.
Flipping it over shows the artwork for Sold On Murder’s side. A longhorn skull with a bunch of symbols behind it and what appears to be an interpolated gas mask is staring back at me. Alright, it’s time to hear what this stuff is like.
Side one; Malachi Krunch.
It’s fast. Its loud. Its hardcore. Yep, that’s kinda what I was expecting here. This isn’t music for a Sunday morning brunch. This is Saturday night, punch a cop, piss in a gutter, debauchery straight outta Connecticut.
Now for what I’ve been able to find. Malachi Krunch was the first band of New Haven, Connecticut punk Jim Martin. Jim would go on to front the band Broken, and later Chem-Trails. As I page through the insert a bit and read some of the lyrics, its clear to me that this band’s message is right up my alley. Cutouts of “STOP THE WAR ON THE POOR” and “Resist Amerikkan Genocide AND Drug War” are plastered betwixt lyric sheets. Yes! Song topics range from Puerto Rican revolt due to lack of representation, resistance, homelessness, pollution, and and ode to Dan Quayle’s wife Marilyn.
Jim’s still fronting hardcore crust acts today and leads the group Chem-Trails. Here he is performing with them in 2018.
Further digging yielded this basement performance recording of Malachi Krunch and Seizure in 1989. That’s Jim there with the long hair and sideburns, a completely different image from his more well-known shaved head aesthetic. His look matched the picture of him in the insert. I wonder if the pic was taken at this show?
Now for side two. Sold On Murder is muuuuch more difficult to find information about. I found this interview with Kris Keyes, a frontman for the band Dive Bomber in Los Angeles. He talks about how he first started painting himself in the music world while working with a band called Sold On Murder in New Haven, Connecticut. This checks out, too, because in the liner notes it thanks Kris Keyes for help on “Open Mind/Mind Decay” and “An Insanity Plea”.
According to a comment on this news story about a murder victim in New Haven in 2008, one of the members of Sold On Murder was, in fact…murdered. John Evers Robinson played bass and sang vocals for Sold On Murder, but was killed before the album was released. This was confirmed after I started looking through the inserts that came with the record.
One side of the lyric sheet is a memorial to John that also includes some pictures of Dan Quayle and his contradiction quotes. The lyrics are wild, in the sense that topics range from eating the world, drinking blood, sex, anti-capitalism, mental illness, and police brutality. Rad.
The music itself is hardcore. Fast, uptempo, brutal vocals, messy guitars, blazing solos. Its peak late 80s hardcore, like Bad Brains mixed with Living Colour (both of which are mentioned in the “thank yous”. This was absolutely worth the buy and a very fun trip into history. Its a real shame that John was murdered, the message behind his art is poignant 30 some years later. I’ll leave you with his quote from the insert.
Here’s the Spotify link to the playlist. You’re welcome to recreate it on any platform you choose. Just press play and read along, acting like the voice in your head is the DJ. The times listed are that of the song playing, not the full episode length. I play this with a 5-second cross-fade enabled. Have fun!
00:15 Hello and welcome to abp’s Johnny episode! Today we are going to dive into the phenomenon that surrounds an ideal of a man named “Johnny”. Now, I bet you could name at least a handful of songs that mention Johnny. I bet you could also name a bunch of songs sang by a Johnny (Rotten, Cash, Nash, Karate). Johnny is forever and Johnny is never.
00:40 Johnny seems to be the go-to character for rock songs. It seems like everyone and their mother Mary has written about a Johnny, or vicariously lived through Johnny in the music. John has been in the top 20 most popular baby names of the U.S. since the census began. It was the most popular name for males until 1924 but still remains in the top 20 to this day. Other forms of John include Jon, Jonathan, Jack or Jackie. We’re gonna stick to just Johnny today.
01:10 A bit later in the episode, we’ll be treated to a meta Johnny couple of sets. NOFX’s “Jaw, Knee, Music” quotes lyrics from a grip of punk songs about our titular subject matter. I’m gonna play at least 10 of those references. More might be scattered throughout the show.
01:40 Kicking off today’s episode is the song that started it all. Well, it wasn’t the first “Johnny” song by any means, but this song started the mythos of Johnny in rock and roll music. Not only did Chuck Berry launch an entire new genre with his new rhythm and blues sound, “rock and roll”, but he also started the legend of Johnny. And for those of you (like myself) who weren’t around when this song hit the airwaves, maybe this channels something in you to time travel…
02:10 Berry propped up Johnny as a rock star. A guitar god from the backwoods of Louisiana. That may sound a bit autobiographical for Chuck and that’s because it partially was. Chuck took parts from Bob Wills’ “Ida May” and gave it a new sound to create his first single “Maybellene”. For “Johnny” he lifted the guitar intro from Louis Jordan’s “Ain’t That Just Like A Woman“. Alright fellas, well “here’s a blues riff in B, watch me for the changes and..try to keep up.” Here is “Johnny B. Goode”.
00:15 Whew! That was garage rock lo-fi staple, Ty Segall. Ty is by far one of the most productive musicians in garage rock. After releasing his debut album in 2008, Ty put out over fifteen albums with various bands in the span of a decade. He released three albums in 2012 alone. This dude doesn’t stop! From early on in his career, that was “Johnny” from Lemons.
00:40 Before Ty, we were treated with some Zero Boys. The Indiana punks put out one EP, Living In The 80s, and one LP, Vicious Circle before splitting up in 1983. They recorded songs for a second album but split before finishing it. One of those recordings was “Johnny Better Get”, and was included on the compilation album that featured those lost songs; History Of…
01:10 With our first taste of Northern Ireland punk rock today, that was Protex. The Clash are allegedly the origination of punk rock in Belfast. They were scheduled to play there in 1977 but the show was cancelled by the insurance company supporting the band. They were scared. The band still made a profound impact and launched a scene that would generate bands like Stiff Little Fingers, Rudi, Protex, and many more. Protex even took their band name from a Clash song; “Protex Blue”. They played “Look Out Johnny” after the Stones.
01:40 Chuck Berry actually wrote five songs in total about his famed Johnny. After the success of “Johnny B. Goode”, Chuck would go on to write “Johnny B. Blues”, “Go Go Go”, “Lady B. Goode”, and “Bye Bye Johnny”; the latter of which was covered by The Rolling Stones. The Stones released their eponymous debut EP in January of 1964. “Bye Bye Johnny” was the lead track on the album, leaving the absolute possibility that this track was the first Stones song some people heard.
02:10 Chuck once said he hopes Bob Dylan lives ’til 100 and that he (Chuck) lives forever. The two formed a bond later in life that lasted until Chuck’s death in 2017. Chuck didn’t live forever, but his music will and he can keep us forever young. Some say Dylan helped create rap music with this next song. I’m not so sure about that, but he sure does quite the poetry slam. Here’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” from Bobby D.
00:15 Fat Mike is such a punny guy. “Jaw Knee Music” caps off the set but will remain in our hearts and minds for the next half hour or so. When Mike started punkvoter.com to oust Bush Jr. from the White House in 2004, he was forced to forgo some of those punk rock hassles of selling out and mainstream media coverage. He appeared on Dennis Miller, the band played on Conan O’Brien, and they would register voters at Warped Tour. Too bad it was all for not. During that time, Fat Wreck Chords put out the Rock Against Bush compilations, which would feature unreleased cuts from some pretty big names; including an exclusive from Green Day. NOFX contributed “Jaw Knee Music” to the first comp, a song comprised of punk rock references all in the name of Johnny.
00:40 Like NOFX, Death Lens started out in Los Angeles. Also like NOFX, they’ve released a few split albums with some other stellar bands. Their first split with The Frights was titled DeathFrights and came out in 2014. It featured two originals from each band, one cover of the other band’s tune, and one collaboration song. The original version of “No Colt, No Johnny” is on this EP.
01:10 “Ride, Johnny, Ride!” The Misfits’ debut single Cough/Cool may have been recorded without a guitar, but possessed all of the demonic attitude for a Misfits record. The single, released by Glenn Danzig’s Blank Records, would stand out only to get Mercury Records to donate 30 hours of studio time to the band in exchange for the rights to Blank Records trademark. The Misfits used that to record 13 songs, none of which anyone wanted to release. So in true punk DIY fashion, they released it themselves EP by EP, starting with their 2nd EP Bullet.
01:40 On Dylan’s shotgun blast song, “Like A Rolling Stone”, he croons “You say you never compromise/with the mystery tramp/but now you realize”. The Mystery Trend misheard that lyric, although Mystery Trend is a great band name. They couldn’t get their career to take off along with all of the other San Francisco Sound psychedelic acts of that era, perhaps due to band member cycling or to the lack of promotion from Verve Records. They did release one single in 1967, though, “Johnny Was A Good Boy”.
02:10 Starting into our Jaw Knee Music sets now, here’s So-Cal band D.I. The lyrics to this song also start off “Jaw Knee Music” and feature our beloved Johnny having a problem and being out of control. Quite the change from that Southern backwoods Louisiana boy who could play a guitar like ringing a bell. Here’s “Johnny’s Got A Problem”.
00:15 Wrapping up the first Jaw Knee Music set of the day, that was The Replacements’ “Johnny’s Gonna Die” from their 1981 debut LP Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash. Fat Mike quoted the song verbatim with the line “Johnny always needs more than he takes/Forgets a couple chords/Forgets a couple breaks”. The track would turn out to be the slowest and longest on an 18 track-36 minute ear blast of an album.
00:40 The Vandals took issue with what they saw as hypocrisy when someone who had it pretty good decided to sing the blues. The blues are for when you don’t have it pretty good, right? “Johnny Twobags” is the story of a guy who thinks he has it rough, but when put into perspective, he’s just having a bad day. From the 1995 punsationally-named LP Live Fast Diarrhea, that was “Johnny Twobags”.
01:10 In verse three of “Jaw Knee”, Mike asks “Johnny, is he queer?”. In the late 70’s, Josie Cotton moved to Los Angeles from Texas and found herself in the blooming punk scene. After hooking up with Larson and Bobby Paine, Josie was offered the track and included it on her 1982 album Convertible Music. She would also appear in Valley Girl, but after a second musical effort in 1984 would she would ultimately fade out of the scene.
01:40 X stopped by with “Johnny Hit And Run Paulene” from their debut album Los Angeles. Although they fit in perfectly well with their drugged-out scene cohorts, X’s angle was purposefully void. No band name (X), no bass player (John Doe). X crossed rhythm & blues guitar styles with punk rock fervor, resulting in a kind of 50s greaser meets 80s speed freak vibe.
02:10 Fat Mike also sang the line “Johnny says he’s bound by only six strings to this world”; a direct lyric lift from the Bouncing Souls song “The Ballad Of Johnny X”. Originally recorded for the Punk Suckscompilation, the track would be re-recorded for their sophomore album Maniacal Laughterlater that year and both tracks feature the actual Johnny X on them. Johnny X is Mike Cavallaro, a comic book writer and artist that went to the same high school as the Souls. Once again, Johnny is someone’s alter ego. Here’s “The Ballad of Johnny X”.
00:15 Stiff Little Fingers’ version of “Johnny Was” doubles the track time of the original. The original cut, done by Bob Marley on Rastaman Vibration, was credited to his wife Rita upon release. Bob was in contractual standoffs with Cayman music and rather than battle them in court, he gave all credits to his friends and family with hopes to provide for them using future earnings from the music. Mike sings “Johnny was a good man” in reference to this song.
00:40 According to Reagan Youth, if you rang a bell, Johnny would start to drool. Also, Johnny “wastes his days eating ‘ludes”, was “a teenage vegetable”, and was “a mindless brainwashed pig”. All of those descriptors are from Reagan Youth’s “Degenerated”, fully repurposed by NOFX for the theme. Remember when this song was covered in that Airheads movie?
01:10 Fat Mike soap-boxed fellow Bay Area punkers Rancid by placing some of their Johnny lyrics in his composition. Rancid released Let’s Go in 1994 and rode the mid-90s punk/alternative wave until going full reggae-rock band by 1998. Let’s Go introduced us to Lars Frederiksen, their 2nd guitarist, and also included the song “The Ballad Of Jimmy And Johnny”. The band would return to their punk roots on their 2000 self titled release.
01:40 Towards the end of “Jaw Knee Music”, Fat Mike can be heard singing “Johnny questions sellout bands”. Before Rancid, Less Than Jake played us “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts” from their 1996 album Losing Streak. LTJ was one of the more underground ska bands that emerged in that late 90s weird ska punk phase, leaving the fame to the Bosstones or Reel Big Fish.
02:10 Alright, well that’s done. That was fun! Coming up next is a continuation of what Johnny was. According to The Adicts, “Johnny Was A Soldier”. Furthermore, Johnny was an amputee; possibly an angry amputee? Is this what Fat Mike is referencing? The Adicts are droogs incarnate, the gang members from Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange. From their sophomore album, Sound Of Music, here’s “Johnny Was A Soldier”.
00:15 Bruce Springsteen wrote “Johnny 99” during his recording sessions for Nebraska after reading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. The entire album is bleak and quiet, with topics limited to murder, despair, and longing; its amazing. Philadelphia, PA punk band The Loved Ones covered Bruce’s “Johnny 99” on their Distractions EP and brought the song into a whole new light.
00:40 The Woggles are led by the Professor Mighty Manfred Jones. He hosts a radio show on Little Steven’s Underground Garage chock full of music that would fit in perfectly well with abp’s episodes. Little Steven signed The Woggles to his Wicked Cool record label right after the release of their 2003 LP Ragged But Right. From that LP, that was “Johnny Come Lately”.
01:10 The Attacks are a Danish garage rock revival band that broke up a year before releasing their reunion LP Strikes Back. Then they broke up again. That album included a cool cover of a techno song from another Danish group Superheroes that originally appeared on their label’s 15 year anniversary compilation Saluting The Crunchy Frog in 2009. That was “Johnny And I”.
01:40 The Diaboliks were a little-known garage rock band from the 90’s. Featuring a mostly female lineup, the band would put out a mixtape of an LP as a debut, a few EPs, and one full-length LP in 2000. Lineup changes and band tension led them to split after the release of their full-length Three Fur Burgers…And A Hot Chilli Dog To Go!; where we lifted “I Love Johnny Bravo” from.
02:10 Dead Moon was comprised of Portland legends Fred and Toody Cole along with Andrew Loomis. Fred engineered most of the band’s recordings using the mono lathe that the Kingsmen, another Portland group, used for “Louie Louie”. Dead Moon carried the torch for garage rock revival in the 80s, keeping their sound limited to the capabilities of a few instruments and analog tape. One of their more influential and well-known songs is up now. Here’s “Johnny’s Got A Gun” from their 1990 LP Defiance.
00:15 Television’s debut single “Little Johnny Jewel” was released on Ork Records (the same label that originally agreed to put out Misfits’ Bullet EP but the deal fell through). Richard Hell formed the group with Tom Verlaine but after a falling out left and started his own band, The Voivoids. After his departure, Richard Lloyd joined and they recorded the 7-minute epic debut. They must have enjoyed the jam session, because on their debut album Marquee Moon, they included the 10-minute epic title track to round out Side A.
00:40 After a minor charting hit in 1960 with “One Boy”, Joanie Sommers landed a #7 hit single with 1962’s “Johnny Get Angry”. Once called “The Voice Of The Sixties”, Joanie wouldn’t repeat the success she found with “Johnny Get Angry”. Now with clear hindsight, we can say Joanie was most likely not the voice of the sixties. Who do you think was?
01:10 Screeching Weasel play into the leather jacket Fonzie aesthetic that makes many a punk rock song fun. Keeping with that Happy Days vibe, Ben Weasel sings about the dreamed-up love affair between Joanie Cunningham and someone named Johnny. Perhaps its Johnny Suede? Or maybe this is a fantasy. I mean, the song does mention Fonzie getting fucked up on ‘ludes and Joanie and Johnny doing heroin. Screeching Weasel also covered “Johnny, Are You Queer?” on their 1994 album How To Make Enemies And Irritate People.
01:40 After Dead Moon was an old punk jam from The Gizmos, a band out of Bloomington, Indiana that’s had more lineup changes than records released. While they never released an official full album, the band put out four EPs and split record before calling it quits. We played “Johnny Got A Gun” from the compilation Rock & Roll Don’t Come From New York.
02:00 Alright Johnnies, that about does it for today. May the legend of Johnny live on forever in our collective imaginations. Now…what women’s name would be a good companion episode to this one….?
Artist: The Dynettes Track: “Witness To A Heartbreak” Release: New Guy / Witness To A Heartbreak (7″) Year: 1965 Duration: 2:30
Maurice Williams scored a huge hit in 1960 when he and The Zodiacs put out the single “Stay”. At just 1:36 in length, the single would become the shortest song to ever reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the United States. After groups like The Hollies and The Four Seasons laid down their own versions of the song and pushed it into an international audience, Maurice & The Zodiacs would reap the benefits. Jackson Browne interpolated it into the finale of his 1978 masterpiece album Running On Empty as “The Load Out / Stay” which again brought the song to new audiences. It wasn’t until the song’s inclusion on the 1987 soundtrack to the film Dirty Dancing, though, that it would sell it’s highest amount of copies.
In 1965, Maurice wrote and arranged a pair of tracks for the girl group The Dynettes to record. I can’t seem to find much on The Dynettes individually, but as the record suggests the song was recorded in Chicago, Illinois around 1964 under the production of Bill “Bunky” Sheppard. According to the comments section of this Nerdtorious.com post, the lead singer’s name was Idella and she was last known to reside in Charlotte, North Carolina. That’s it. That’s all I can find, and that’s assuming the comment is legit.
As for the song itself, it bounces along like a lollipoppy, mid-60s soul jam with a nice, clean guitar chasing the messy drumbeat backed up by an organ and a call and response type vocal setting. It’s a shame this one didn’t make it further up the charts.
I’m sure the saturation of sixties girl groups made for a challenge for anyone to break through to fame, especially with the absolute domination from Phil Spector and his Wall of Sound groups.
The A-side, “New Guy” is another gem, this time with a more up-tempo approach. I love how the deep horns back up the girls’ vocals in start contrast. This song could easily be found on a movie montage or soundtrack. Something Summer-y.
The Constellation Records catalog has all kinds of hidden soul gems from 1964-65 and you can currently find the Constellation of Rhythm & Blues compilation on streaming services. Give it a dig sometime, these songs are the epitome of “lost treasures”. Instead of posting links to just the Dynettes’ music, here’s the full compilation.