Thursday, June 10, 2010

Review: “Argh Fuck Kill: The story of the Dayglo Abortions” by Chris Walter

To begin with I want to say that I was not a huge fan of the Dayglos going into this book. I saw the first show that they played in Toronto and the re-telling of that story in this book is far better then my recollection of it, but all the funny shit about the camera crew was true. The fact that the cops made the place a sweatbox is true. I can believe that Bonehead almost passed out from heat exhaustion because that’s what it was like back in the days at Ildiko’s. Those summer months the walls of the club were literally sweating. Truth be told that was an amazing show. But the Dayglos stayed here for the summer. And they didn’t practice. And they got progressively worse to the point where I would stand outside while they were on just so I didn’t have to sit through another shitty Dayglo set. And I was a fan of “Feed us a Fetus”. But I never bought another Dayglos record after that. I just felt used by the band. But Chris Walter has done it again. Just as Chris wrote about Personality Crisis in his last book and turned me into a fan and made me want to find out more about the long lost Winnipeg scene, “Argh Fuck Kill” has converted me into a Dayglos fan. I appreciate learning about Murray Acton being a guitar virtuoso at an early age. This explains why the Dayglos had so many great songs. In the chapter titled “Sick Young Fucks” Walter tells how Acton switched from metal to jazz fusion in tastes of music. The Mahuvishnu Orchestra became a big influence in his learning. And music was turned to because the boys were getting in trouble playing pranks with pipe bombs and Beatles record or spiking the punch at the school dance with qualudes. These are pranks that read like they were scenes straight out of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”. The exception is they really happened in the DAYGLOS lives and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” was fiction. The final transition to punk came when Acton was listening to CITR and he heard a Dead Kennedys song. The intricacy of the song impressed the hell out of him and he was a convert. Acton also loved the Neos. The Neos became one of his primary inspirations. That makes me proud because I released a later period band of one of the Neos called Mexican Power Authority who shaped themselves after the Neos. I agree with Acton that the Neos were well ahead of their time. This book does not go into the Victoria scene quite the way “Warm Beer and Wild Times” explored Winnipeg, Calgary, Vanmcouver, and L.A. Part of that is because the Dayglos stayed put. The other explanation is that Victoria is a smaller scene and so there is less to talk about, although the comp “All Your Ears Can Hear” suggest otherwise. Nonetheless RED TIDE, POINTED STICKS, NO MEANS NO, SICK SENSE, and MR. PLOW make it into the story. The scene histories are part of what I love about Chris’s band biographies. You get snapshots of punk from the scene that spawned the band. Hearing about the Nostril houses and the House of Beep in the last book helped give insight into the shaping of Personality Crisis. And the road thirsty Dayglos were shaped by their dull surroundings of Victoria. Victoria made them get out there and tour for decades like no other band in the underground has. Victoria can be credited for why this band has endured the kind of hard knock life of the road for so long. Driving across this country is a thankless task although in the Dayglos case their fans have been most appreciative. And with Cretin’s recollection of past shows, he does remember the reaction and feeds off it. Some of my favourite stories found in this book are the ones from shows. Others are the stories behind the Dayglos recordings. The insight into the songs has really turned me into a Dayglos fan. Walter has given me an appreciation for what the Dayglos were saying. It wasn’t “Stupid Songs” they were singing. In fact that was a song about pop-culture often misinterpreted as a song explaining the Dayglos repertoire. I also appreciate finding out all the details behind the censorship case brought against them by the Nepean Police. The irony that “Here Today, Guano Tomorrow” came to this cops attention because his daughter wanted her dad to illegally make copies of the records were not lost in the story. That this was a censorship case that was misinterpreted by all the players involved was alarming. Even folks like Jello Biafra didn’t really back the Dayglos. Ben Hoffman withheld royalties from the band practically starving them on the road which the band referred to as the White Bread and Baloney tour. The allegations that Ben Hoffman made money from the trial while the band suffered is shitty to learn because Fringe was run out of the local record store in Toronto, the Record Peddler. And somehow the Dayglos perservered. Back in the day the Dayglos were always talked about in association with the Jaks Skate Team. But it wasn’t until later developments that Jaks members became Dayglos members. I also didn’t realize that the later singer, Gymbo, has been living in Toronto running Shred Central up until this week, whereby we learn via the Globe and Mail that the park is being gutted for yet another space wasting condo. There are a lot of crazy stories in this book. Stories that capture the wildness of punk. Stories that do the Dayglos justice. Stories that would make Howard Zinn proud if Howard were a punk. Stories that would make Hunter S. Thompson blush. Dayglo Abortions have remained one of the most misunderstood bands in punk, until now. Thank Chris for that. (

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