Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Angry Samoans

  • Inside My Brain [Bad Trip 12-inch, 1980] A
  • Back from Samoa [Bad Trip EP, 1982] A
  • Yesterday Started Tomorrow [PVC EP, 1987] B+
  • Gimme Samoa: 31 Garbage-Pit Hits [PVC, 1987] A
  • STP Not LSD [PVC, 1988] B+
  • The Unboxed Set [Triple X, 1995] ***
  • Angry Samoans [Triple X/Bad Trip, 1998] Neither

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Inside My Brain [Bad Trip 12-inch, 1980]
Like so many of their coscenemakers, these dorks cultivate race and sex shock; one of them has had unkind words for his "adopted Jew parents," and the band's abuse of a "pathetic male queer" is now on record. But these six foreshortened songs, self-destructing in under ten minutes total, sum up the only hard-core punks to put the social distortion they yell about on the map. Sure a lot of what's inside their brains started somewhere else, but that's where it ended up, and by copping to their part--even their "new generation" anthem-if-you-want-to-call-it-that is called "Right Side of My Brain"--they give themselves a shot at beating it, by whatever means necessary. They're solipsistic enough to claim the gone girlfriend in "You Stupid Asshole" no longer exists, and fair enough to add that they're stupid assholes themselves. And they insult Rodney Bingenheimer, which must be why skinheads think they go too far. If Carly Simon can make great rock and roll, why not them? A

Back from Samoa [Bad Trip EP, 1982]
An LP in format and perceived weight, a seventeen-minute EP in real-time length, this is the most offensive record I've ever liked, and damn near perfect if superannuated hardcore with metal hooks could be your meat. Todd Homer is good enough to half convince me he's as demented as he sounds, and I don't mean in a cute way--I pity anyone (especially any female) who has to treat him like a human. "They Saved Hitler's Cock" is the most brutal and ludicrous of these fourteen frags, "Homo-sexual" ("I'm like you") and "Ballad of Jerry Curlan" ("drinks toilet water takes it up the ass butt-fucks his dog") the scariest. All of 'em are catchy. And almost every one give me a laugh. A

Yesterday Started Tomorrow [PVC EP, 1987]
In which they snarl as hookily as ever through a pop phase signaled by an average song length of 2:02 and the occasional appearance of the word "love" (as in "Somebody to Love," which you know is a cover only when you check the credits). Mental illness per se, sometimes caused by lost "love," is now their explicit subject, to such an extent that though inwardness was their great virtue in hardcore's halcyon days, here I could stand a little unwonted aggression. Maturity strikes again. B+

Gimme Samoa: 31 Garbage-Pit Hits [PVC, 1987]
There's something heart-warmingly perverse about turning these proud piggos into yuppie fodder, and after all, how many other major '80s bands could fit their entire recorded output onto one pricy piece of plastic-coated aluminum five inches in diameter? Including even a few outtakes--the same ones that pad PVC's rerelease of Inside My Brain into something collectors might respring for, and I must admit they're growing on me. Some disparage the Samoans as incipient Dead Milkmen, which isn't such a terrible insult and also misses how disturbing they were--Rodney Bingenheimer wasn't their only enemy. In fact, maybe they still are disturbing--maybe that analysis is a pornography-is-boring move, an attempt to trivialize the threatening. Always a reluctant fan, I find that their bad attitudes reinforce each other played back to back in this format: hard, catchy, unashamed straight-teen-male hostility so funny that there's no denying the educational value of its self-knowledge, though maybe more for observers than participants. In very short, a punk touchstone. A

STP Not LSD [PVC, 1988]
Their material is still pretty surefire, but it's also pretty scattershot, because in 1988 they're reduced to a joke band--there's no scene worth outraging any more, as the bands that try it prove. Better folk-rock acid casualties and recycled recycled Sabbath than B.A.L.L. parodying Bangla Desh or Rapeman beating somebody else's meat. B+

The Unboxed Set [Triple X, 1995]
consumer advisory: everything these scabrously hilarious hate dorks ever released ("They Saved Hitler's Cock," "Lights Out") ***

Angry Samoans [Triple X/Bad Trip, 1998] Neither