Angry Samoans

Politically Incorrect Before Politically Incorrect Was Cool (and a TV show)

Strongest album: The Unboxed Set. One disc contains everything the band ever recorded in the studio.
Weakest album: See above.

They took their smirks from the Dictators and Blue Oyster Cult while presaging the likes of the Dead Milkmen and the Beastie Boys, and were musically tighter, catchier, and more genuinely deranged than any of the above. The Angry Samoans are the most offensive and disgusting band you'll probably ever like. Founded in 1978 by a couple of screwed up Arkansas brothers who moved out to L.A. to become part of the burgeoning punk scene, they found a couple of like-minded locals and became the most obnoxious and hated band on that scene, which says a lot. They released a song insulting KROQ DJ Rodney Biggenheimer, who unfortunately had a lot of clout and power and got the Samoans banned from every important club in L.A. Which meant that the Samoans weren't featured on the otherwise inclusive Decline Of Western Civilization documentary, and is likely the reason you haven't heard of'em. Whatever, being more offensive than Fear and tighter than the Circle Jerks (and writing better words than the Germs), the Samoans stood head and shoulders above their contemporaries (except for X and Black Flag, of course), as one of the rare worthwhile punk bands to emerge from L.A. Musically the Samoans took standard metallized riffs and triple-timed them for something called "hardcore", only clear, distinct, and catchy as opposed to the simplistic thudda-thudda-thudda of most hardcore morons. What the Samoans originally set out to do, given their relative age (Metal Mike Saunders was 26!), was to recreate '60s garage punk for the modern age. This worked out brilliantly on the first two records, but became a mistake on the last two, which abandoned '80s punk altogether for a literal take on '60s punk. And then there's the lyrics. It helps to, um, "appreciate" the Samoans' "irony" if you're a straight white male like myself - everyone else should avoid if you're sensitive, 'cause you will definitely be offended in many sundry and various manners. Especially if you're a girl (the cover of their first EP is of a girl with an axe splitting her head open), and even more if you're a.....homosexual. These guys' repeated obsession with "pathetic male queers" and "faggots" leaves a really bad aftertaste in these more tolerant times. It begs the question - are these guys in denial? Naw, probably not; more than likely, they're just assholes who can't get laid 'cause they treat girls like shit, and so they get pissed off and take it out on gays, which is one of the traditional ways most young males with heads up their asses deal with their sexual frustrations. The Samoans disturb me more than G.G. Allin or the Meatmen because I actually enjoy the Samoans' records. There's no way getting around it - you're going to have to justify to yourself pogoing to "tunes" this hatefilled and offensive. But good rock and roll ought to disturb you, and if you insist on music with a "positive message", go listen to Natalie Merchant. The Samoans were the garbage rock of Lester Bangs' depraved dreams, full of self-hatred and loathing that turned its insecurity and rage upon everyone and everything in the world 'cause it was just there to be hated. The Samoans were a joke band, but one of those dark, sick jokes that you makes you feel uncomfortable about yourself for falling on the floor laughing at it. There's a little Angry Samoan inside each and every one of us.....

The only two websites out there for the Samoans are by former members of the band. Go directly to this interview at Perfect Sound Forever; it will provide you with a history of the band, both Kevin Saunders' and Gregg Turner's versions, and link you to their personal websites.

Inside My Brain EP (1980) ****

In its original configuration this platter lasted six songs and ten minutes, about the length of a single and B-side, and had more good music on it than most long-players. It was rereleased a few years later with outtakes to come up to 11 songs and nearly 20 minutes. All of it's on the Unboxed Set, the only piece of aluminum you really need from the Samoans, so don't worry none. The Samoans play standard late '70s punk with a garage edge, except for one surprisingly poppy number, "Carson Girls", which is also, surprise again, actually nice - it's a simple, catchy-as-measles tune about how they're the cutest in the land and I wanna take one by the hand. How sweet! The rest of the record ain't so sweet. The Samoans display an odd obsession with a certain body part (no, not what you think) - their brains, which are always disturbed, have holes in them, and/or need to be looked inside by a doctor. The Dictators-style junior-high grossout "I'm A Pig" cracks me up - "He doesn't care about mowing the lawn/All he cares about is porking your mom", and so does the live "Too Animalistic" (though I can't understand what Todd Homer is saying in the middle - something about how they're sitting on a waterbed and he asks this chick to suck his dick, and she calls him a piece of shit). The two classics are the two meanest songs. "You Stupid Asshole" is the cruelest ex-girlfriend kiss-off ever: when she takes off her clothes, he laughs; later on he's whining about how she never puts out, the whore. "Get Off The Air" got'em banned in L.A., about a pea-brained DJ who's a piece of shit who beats off in Joan Jett's hair and thinks that new wave's glitter rock and Bowie's cock. Jesus, these guys are assholes.

Back From Samoa (1982) ****1/2

The creme de la creme de Angry Samoans, I held off giving it five stars because you can get it and everything else on the Unboxed Set. At 17 minutes, this should've been released as an EP, but it's fourteen songs long and each one is a unique little entity. Yeah, I said little - six of these suckers clock in at under a minute, with the hilarious "You Stupid Jerk" ending at 25 seconds. In fact, the whole dang thing's funny - these guys are so outrageous that it's hard not to crack up, until you realize that at some level it's not a joke. And then you crack up some more. The opening cut has some teendork comparing being grounded to his room to being sent to a gas chamber, and "They Saved Hitler's Cock" compounds the offense. Even more offensive is "Homosexual" ("Living in your faggot world"), which weirdly admits "I'm the same" (?), but the real kicker is the hilarious "Up the ass/Darby Crash" (guess you gotta know about L.A. punk to find that line funny). The best song is "Lights Out", the most fucked up dance craze ever - grab a fork or a pen and poke your eyes out. And right after that comes the second best song, "My Old Man's A Fatso", the best and meanest "parents just don't understand" song you won't hear cruising down the highway - "Now that I'm a man/I'm gonna piss right in their face". "Ballad of Jerry Curlan", which lasts an epic three minutes, is truly warped. It's the saga of a nice, sensitive social type who engages in bestiality, toilet drinking, incest, a midget fetish, Ferrari driving, and last but not least, homosexuality. Even more warped than the subject matter are Todd Homer's vocals - he froths at the mouth like he's got rabies, going completely insane at the end for the most deranged vocal track I've ever heard. It's like Todd really does know a guy called Jerry Curlan and really does hate him with a passion, like maybe Jerry porked his sister or ripped him off or something. I mean, he means it, man. Those are the words. The music is tighter and faster than they were the last time or they'd get again, because between 1980 and 1982 something happened to punk rock: hardcore, which insisted on speeding up everything. So the songs buzz by you before you even know they're there, until you've heard it a few dozen times. I've heard several bands like the Minutemen and Wire take this type of short-short song approach, but for my money nobody does it better than the Samoans do on this album. Somehow they manage to twist and turn these abbreviated blowouts in several directions before they're over, with more stuff going on in them than most other bands' full length compositions. Kind of like Bizarro-World Black Sabbath - instead of slow, long, ponderous, and heavy, this stuff's fast, short, catchy, and heavy. And the Samoans worship B-movies and serial killers instead of Satan.

Yesterday Started Tomorrow EP (1986) ***1/2

After a long layoff, the Samoans returned. As you might expect, they're older and slower, which isn't a good thing. In fact, this isn't punk rock at all, unless you're talking about the '60s Seeds kind. So it's considerably less compelling than their first two records. However, if like me you like '60s garage punk, then this is more consistent than anything the Standells ever released. Six songs, at an average length of about two minutes, which is short by anybody else's standards but longwinded by the Samoans' timekeeping. All of'em are good and catchy. "Different World" is the most conventional, sounding straight out of '66 like some lost Nugget about leaving your girlfriend, not nice but much nicer than "You Stupid Asshole". "Unhinged" is the best song, and concerns the familiar subject of mental disturbances. As does the next song, "Psych-Out 129". Kudos to the inventive cover of "Somebody To Love", which rescues a great but overplayed song from baby boomer nostalgia. Perhaps the most shocking thing about this record is that it's - ulp - not very disturbing or offensive. Or funny, either. Just ordinary, straightforward hard rock. Which isn't bad.

STP Not LSD (1988) ***

Their weakest record; at times this reminds me a little too much of the Dead Milkmen, especially those stupid acoustic (!) ditties. Which means that the Samoans are basically playing it for laughs throughout, and like the previous EP they're pretty innocous about it. It's also their only really full-length record; like with the previous EP, the songs are longer and they're playing more straightforward garage rock than punk. The guitar tone is really great, especially when it rips out into a blistering solo on songs like "Death Of Beewak". I like the monologue in "Attack Of The Mushroom People", and the Alice Cooper obscurity is neat. "Wild Hog Rhyde" is just plain silly. It's a pretty listenable record, but it pales compared to their previous work. After this, they parted ways, and apparently they all hate each other's guts and won't talk to each other anymore. Which makes sense: could you stand being in a band full of assholes like these?

The Unboxed Set (1995) *****

Everything listed in the above reviews is here, folks. Look no further. In 1987 they released 31 Garbage Pit Hits, which contained everything they released up to that point, and this CD simply appends STP Not LSD. Either one is fine if you see them. At 43 tracks containing a band's entire output, this is one of the most generous CDs out there - you're unlikely to find more bang for your buck in this lifetime. Yep, that's one CD, one CD I said, and it has everything the Angry Samoans ever released on it. So go out and buy it. And then spend a few weeks trying to absorb it all. If these guys don't disturb you, then there's something wrong with you. If you like punk and don't like these guys, there's something even more wrong with you. If you're anally politically correct and/or squeamish, you won't like it. If you've got a sense of humor and are a sick fuck, you'll like it. If you've read my reviews of this band all the way through, you've probably got a good idea about whether you'll like it or not by now.

P.S. "Homosexual" is credited to a certain "J. Falwell" in the liner notes. Cute, guys. Now remind me, 'cause I forgot - was it a joke or not (the original song, I mean)?

Reader Comments

Bob Anton,

They saved Hitler's Cock! They Hid it under a rock!

If Hitler's cock could talk, it would say to kill today!!

Check out VOM (featuring members of the AS.) They're the first ones to do TOO ANIMALISTIC. Also, another good one called I'M IN LOVE WITH YOUR MOM.

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