Reatards – Teenage Hate/Fuck Elvis Here’s The Reatards

January 01, 1970

(Goner)

 

www.gonerrecords.com

 

The underground music community lost one of its most
promising young voices on January 13, 2010, when Memphis punk upstart Jay
Reatard was found dead in his apartment, at the age of 29, after succumbing to
a toxic combination of cocaine and alcohol. Like Kurt Cobain before him, Jay’s
was a life silenced just as his potential was becoming fully achieved, significantly
evident in the impressive outcome of his second solo album and incidental swan
song, 2009’s Watch Me Fall. That
record saw Reatard expand his sound beyond his basement fuzz past to include
such unpunk-like instruments as organ, mandolin and cello to augment buoyant
pop harmonies foreshadowing a possible future leap into Chris Bell/Alex Chilton
territory. Ultimately, Reatard had built up enough of a repertoire in his
decade-and-a-half of ascension on the Southern punk circuit to warrant a solid reappraisal
of his creative output.

 

And where better a place to start than the beginning of his
career in the late ‘90s, when a 15-year-old Reatard, then known as James Lee
Lindsey, Jr., sent in a crude homemade demo tape to Goner Records, a label
owned by one of his heroes on the local scene, Eric Friedl of The Oblivians.
Hearing the influence of his group’s own brand of Memphis-born garage punk in
the songs, he signed the young Reatard in spite of the fact that he was touting
a band, The Reatards, with only one member – himself. After debuting with a
7-inch EP entitled Get Real Stupid that
saw a multitasking Reatard singing, playing guitar and keeping time by beating
on an old bucket, the musician hired actual band members in guitarist Steve
Albundy and drummer Elvis Wong.

 

Soon enough, the fully realized Reatards recorded their
full-length debut Teenage Hate in
1998. It was an album teeming with raw, uncompromising gutter punk energy channeled
by the trio as they tackled an array of originals and covers ranging from The Dead
Boys to Fear to Buddy Holly with a low-rent sense of in-the-moment ferocity
that would seem just as at home in the racks alongside the Germs and Crass
during the early 1980s as it did buzzsawing through the misty-eyed posturing of
the whole emo explosion that was going down at the time of its release.

 

Long out of print, this reissue of Teenage Hate from Goner doubles the length the original LP with the
inclusion of a self-released cassette recording of early four-track demos
called Fuck Elvis, Here’s The Reatards,
which feature fellow Memphis luminary Greg Cartwright (Oblivians, Reigning
Sound, Parting Gifts) sitting in on drums. Actually, this material, through
rawer than the already-crude sounding Teenage
Hate
, gives more insight into Jay’s primal rock purism, whipping up a
stinging supplement of surf guitars, blues punk revelry and good old fashioned River
City swagger that recalls something akin to Tav Falco fronting The Wipers,
highlighted by such choice cuts as “Chuck Taylors All Stars Blues,” “Get
The Fuck Outta My Home” and a crazed cover of The Beatles’ “I’m
Down”.

 

Premature passings like the one fans experienced with Jay
Reatard seem to hurt the most because the promise and potential that could have
catapulted him to heights befitting his origins in the rock ‘n’ roll Mecca were dashed by
something so blatantly avoidable as an overdose. However, we can only be
grateful that he left behind such a formidable body of work, one which will
inspire future generations to pick up where he left off.

DOWNLOAD: “I Love Living,”
“C’Mon Over,” “Memphis Blues,” “Chuck Taylors All
Stars Blues,” “I’m Down” RON
HART

 

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