Nervebreakers – Hijack the Radio!: Vintage Vinyl & Studio Sessions Volume One

January 01, 1970

(Get Hip)


Where were you in ’78 and ’79? If you lived in the Dallas
region and had a hankering for some home-grown punk rock, you were undoubtedly
in the audience at one of the scores of gigs headlined by the Nervebreakers, a
five-man band of delinquents who adopted
the snot-i-tude of the London vanguard, took musical cues from their battered
Stooges, MC5 and Amboy Dukes LPs, and aligned aesthetically with their West
Coast peers concurrently wreaking havoc on the L.A. and San Fran scenes.
Like-minded TX denizens may have even seen the Nervebreakers opening shows for
the Ramones, Clash and Sex Pistols or perhaps serving as Roky Erickson’s
backing band for a spell, further shoring up the Lone Star State’s reputation
as significantly more than a repository of ZZ Top and Stevie Ray Vaughan


Or perhaps you were like me,
living a zillion miles away but fortunate enough to be plugged in to the punk
‘zine underground and within airwave distance of an adventurous college radio
station. That’s how I heard of the Nervebreakers, and I give eternal thanks to
Chapel Hill’s WXYC-FM, which aired deejay Ken Friedman’s groundbreaking “Anarchy
In the P.M.” show: among the many punk and new wave gems getting heavy rotation
was that band’s epochal 45 from 1978, “My Girlfriend Is A Rock,” an archetypal
slice of punk-snark humor (the pun-powered lyrics extolled the virtues of
having, yes, a significant other composed of stone – as opposed to the
obviously inferior other option, wood, nyuk-nyuk) and visceral post-Nuggets garage chug (three chords and
the anthemic fuggin’ truth, no less).


So hats off to Get Hip and their recent Nervebreakers archival
find, which collects “Girlfriend” and some other singles (notably title track
“Hijack the Radio!” another timeless anthem of the era which, as liner notesman
George Gimarc astutely points out, predated the Clash’s “Capitol Radio” and
pissed off more than a few radio station programmers, who typically banned
deejays from airing it), plus compilation tracks and previously unreleased
demos. It makes a handy companion to Get Hip’s 2000 reissue of  the We
Want Everything
LP, which was originally released in 1980 not long before
the group’s demise. And for a punk band operating within the shadows of the
underground, the Nervebreakers mustered a remarkably mature studio sound, their
material’s inherent tunefulness on equal display alongside the songs’ muscular
viscosity. Check the crisp percussion and needle-sharp lead guitar in “My Life
is Ruined,” for example, or the brooding rumble and sharp dynamics of
“Everything Right,” which suggests the presence of more than a few Blue Oyster
Cult fans in the lineup. There’s also the delightfully weird, droning,
hard-rock psych of “See Me Thru,” which hails from ’75 and is somewhat cruder
in sound and execution than the other tracks, but makes perfect contextual
sense when you realize that the Nervebreakers initially formed in ’73 and therefore
were card-carrying members of the proto-punk Amerindie scene then in the early-transitional
stages from hirsute, glam-slam, hashish-smoking teens to clipped ‘n’ leathered,
quaalude-gobbling, one-two-three-FOWAH miscreants.


Fifteen such N-break snapshots in all here, with nary a
strip of analogue tape put to waste.


I never got to see the Nervebreakers perform back in the
day, but hearing that the group had gotten back together in recent years for
occasional reunion shows, I eagerly showed up at their early-evening set at
this year’s SXSW Get Hip Records showcase in Austin. They churned through most of the
goodies I was already familiar with alongside a slew of other terrific
garage-punk anthems, and I was not disappointed. To paraphrase what vocalist Tex
Edwards sings, of his “My Girlfriend Is A Rock” paramour, they were heavy. Let’s go swimmin’!


Girlfriend Is A Rock,” “My Life Is Ruined,” “Hijack the Radio!” (1977 demo)




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