EVEN WORSE - You've Ruined Everything

(Grand Theft Audio)

Somewhere between the Ramones and Youth Of Today, NYC had a hardcore scene that was more about bloody good fun than bloody noses. The CBGB scene of the late 70's was mostly older folks in their mid to late twenties; after the Ramones, Talking Heads, and Blondie moved up and out of CBGBs, bands like the Misguided, the Nihilistics, Kraut, and Even Worse (and even the baby version of the Beastie Boys) turned the scene over to the kids. This happened to be at about the same time that I was starting Jersey Beat, so I was right there, and man, those days were a lot of fun. Claustrophobic, insane, all-night parties at A7, "Noise: The Show" on WNYU-FM, Hardcore Sundays at the Peppermint Lounge.

Even Worse, which featured The Big Takeover's Jack Rabid on drums, went through several lineup changes; this disc - half studio tracks and half recorded live - captures the best-remembered version of the band, with the sassy, beguiling Rebecca Korbet (part Patti Smith, part Bette Midler, with a little Exene on the side) on vocals. I caught this lineup twice that I remember - once on the night at Mile Square City in Hoboken when the Hell's Angels showed up and started a barroom brawl straight out of an old John Wayne flick, and once at a tiny dive under the PATH tracks in Harrison, NJ.

Listening to these tracks now, you can hear the band's influences all too clearly - Buzzcocks, Clash, L.A.'s X and Black Flag - as well as the deliriously na´ve anarchist politics of the era. Punk was politics in 1981 but that didn't mean you couldn't have fun at the same time; what I remember most about Even Worse was the band's free-spirited sense of humor about the scene and themselves -- "We Suck!" was their big punk-rock anthem. You can also hear the sense of adventure and excitement that shot through those days, when punk-rock seemed very new again and every show was like a basement party with all your best friends. If you were there, this disc offers the nostalgic rush of finding a box of home movies in the basement. If you've only heard about those days, here's a rare chance for an inside look at a vital chapter in NYC's indie underground.

- Jim Testa

Jersey Beat