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EVEN WORSE'S HISTORY, AND THE 1979-1982 NEW YORK THRASH PUNK ROCK SCENE

by JACK RABID

The (more or less) Unabridged Liner Notes from the "You've Ruined Everything" CD

PART ONE: BACK IN THE DAY

We loved playing those myriad nights with our friends Bad Brains, Heart Attack, The Undead, Kraut, etc. We went to their gigs; they came to ours - my overriding definition of a "scene". Everyone helped each other. Together with the unique audience characters (like Mouth of the Rat publisher Dave Parsons and Cathy, 171A sound-meisters Jerry Williams and Scott Jarvis, and crowd regulars), we got there early and stayed late, talking 'til we were hoarse. Who wouldn't be inspired by the frenetic energy of so many young bands and people with something to say, bonding? It was a nightly party; adrenaline mixed with spirited humor, everyday outlandish behavior, and vertical dancing.

Yes, it was pre-slam dancing, so the front rows included both sexes having fun together, as you can plainly hear on the "Live at Max's" half of this CD! You can hear us being spurred on by our friendly competition and fellow scene members in the burning desire we display. 20 years later, I can feel it! It's the unmistakable hidden element of that time that so many are looking for in bands today but can't find as readily; it's that feeling that we belonged to something much bigger than just our band. That idea pops up regularly in the blizzard of books looking back at punk, now that everyone finally (!) acknowledges, totally belatedly, how great the scene was then. In these pre-MTV years, it was possible to make your own pop culture, organically, creatively, everyone running with new ideas, without it being instantly co-opted, coerced, and completely corrupted. It took some courage: late '70s, pre-hardcore punk wasn't at all widely known, understood, or respected, as it always seems now in dreary VH1 history shows. Hell, even those elites and journalists that embraced the original New York outbreak of 1973-1977 pronounced the genre "over" and delighted in saying so. So 1977-1981 punk for us was this big, hot secret, never seriously covered in the media except as stock villain lowlife characters on vapid TV shows; existing outside the masses' radar. Everyone was taking pictures, managing bands, making demented films (hello Screaming Mad George of The Mad!), writing, doing fanzines... We're grateful to have experienced that time, when we couldn't wait to get out of bed and do something new...

That said, this CD is an opportunity to step out and show what our band had on its own-outside of NY Thrash. Slated for release in early 1982, it would have been the first LP the NY Thrash scene produced, after the Bad Brains cassette-LP and a spate of singles. Had this appeared then, I believe we would be much better remembered in U.S. punk history. True, I'm biased, but I'm surprised how good this sounds! It's much better than my memory accorded it, even with fondness. That's for you to judge, but it's as good a reason as any for this CD's appearance at this late, 20th anniversary date.

PART TWO: EVEN WORSE'S DARK ROOTS

Three quarters of the original Even Worse (April 1980-April 1981) doesn't play on this CD, but originally wrote six of the songs this later lineup carried on and recorded. Moreover, the gigs it played contributed to the goodwill and standing of the later lineup in a faster scene. In fact, the original Even Worse was the first young band to appear in the preceding, somewhat obscure yet astonishing New York scene centered around The Stimulators, The Mad, and, coming from D.C., the pre-Rasta Bad Brains. This big three bridged a three-year gap after the older, infamous 1973-1977 CBGB/Max's bands quit or went commercial. When Even Worse debuted, April 2nd, 1980, opening for The Stimulators at sold-out TR3, it drew a huge ovation-not because we were good, but because it was such an older crowd. (It's hard to believe now, but back then punks were in their mid-20s! So we were an instant cute novelty.) Plus, like the 1981-1982 lineup here, we played with unstoppable zeal, like we'd been fired from a cannon. And we knew everyone in the crowd! Guitarist Dave Stein and I had been coming in to the big, bad, wicked city every weekend from stolidly-safe Summit, NJ-which would continue to play a role in the later Even Worse. Oddly enough, Summit High School was where the Velvet Underground played their first gig in 1965.

On September 8, 1979, I snuck into the city with my latest spectacular parental lie (being 17), and chanced upon The Stimulators-opening for Dead Boys' Cheetah Chrome's Casualties at Max's. I was taken by the superior warm-up act and the uninhibited crowd of local punks! They knocked the tables over to dance! I met scene figurehead Nick Marden, and told him that Dave and I, along with Geoffrey and David Hutchinson, played punk covers in Hutch's basement in Summit. Nick and I joked about forming a band... Our Summit contingent began attending Stimulators, Bad Brains, and Mad gigs regularly, or we'd just hang out at Nick's or the Stimulators' apartments. Our eyes were opened to groups no magazine ever mentioned (the principal reason Dave and I began The Big Takeover in June 1980)-unknown bands collectors go kablooey for today. Remembers Bobby Weeks, "I actually lost quite a few friends because of my new taste in music. I remember being beaten up at school for the clothes I started wearing and the music I listened to. Those were weird times. I somehow ended up going to N.Y. to see the Stimulators. The first time I saw them, they were so good; I was overcome with some surge of emotion. I went in to see them every weekend, dancing in the front row, and coming home exhausted with bruised shins from being banged up against the stage. It was an exhilarating feeling."

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