Died For Your Sins (Lookout! Records)
By: Alex Steininger
Lasting a mere two years (1977-1978), The Avengers quickly made their mark in the late 70's San Francisco punk scene. Recently reforming as the Scavengers, Original vocalist Penelope Houston teamed up with original guitarist Greg Ingram, as well as two other musicians, to record Avengers songs that never made it to the studio ("I Want In," "Crazy Homicide," and "The End Of The World"). Now, with the only Avengers material in print, Lookout! brings us a compilation of live material, unreleased tracks, and other hard-to-find cuts to show just why this band was so important in their short period of time.
Like other punk material of the time, the songs are sleazy, fast, and just balls-to-the-wall blasts of punk rock. It's kind of refreshing to hear this material, especially with all the so-called "punk" bands these days that are more pop than anything else.
Then, you have bands like The Avengers who get up on stage, give it their all, and make the crowds sweat until they can't take it anymore -- then they give 'em more, to the pleasure of everyone. That's what this album is like; the songs have the attitude, energy, and fury of all the best punk rock. Forget the Sex Pistols, they were a gimmick anyhow. This is the real deal. Penelope Houston spits out words that are still relevant today, with a sweet snarl that would put any punker to shame. She can sing, she can yell, and she can spit out the words like fire -- she's a punk rock princess.
Tracks like "Teenage Rebel," "Friends of Mine," and "Crazy Homicide" shows the power and fury they can unleash on tape. Then there is cuts like "The American In Me," "Car Crash," and "Fuck You," which show the band at a live peak where everything they play is fueled by heart, soul, and a hard rock 'n' roll drive.
The live tracks on here aren't the best of recordings, though they sound great considering the fact they were taken from live tapes fans had recorded back in the 70's. After listening to them a few times though, the ambiance and pictures they paint are crucial to the compilation's vitality, and help tell the story of what the band was all about. The crude quality will grow on you and help add a realistic touch to the real punk rock movement that seems to have almost died in this day and age.
You know, it's good punk music from the 70's, when the movement was fresh and necessary, that gives me hope that it hasn't died. When you hear bands like The Avengers, who were in it for the simple points of having fun and expressing themselves, you realize that punk does exist -- if only in the great bands of the past. Kudos to Lookout! for bringing this to life, as it was a much needed project. I'll give it an A.