SHATTERBOX - 'Strung Out On The Line' LP (Dig! Records, 2018 - LST-006)
Limited to 50 Edition which includes a reproduction of an original, signed 8x10 of the band.
Shatterbox – Strung Out On The Line (Dig!) LP
Initially meeting in Missoula, MT, after two future members returned from a “make it or break” stay in the Bay, the four-piece who recorded this self-issued, ragged messterpiece of punk’n’roll decamped to Seattle to forge their way. Previously members of the under-radar groups Hussy and The Homewreckers, circa ’79 Shatterbox began playing out around the Puget Sound with sympathetic fellow-travelers and led by co-vocalists/songwriting duo Richard Pleasant and George Goheen pieced together the songs that comprise Strung Out On The Line.
Laid to tape in 1980 on a mobile recording unit with assistance from a local studio engineer, the album was recorded in the basement of the infamous abode Pleasant was staying in during the period, affectionately named The Death Camp. With their patented high-low/Glitter Twins choruses, recording environs and grimy, Keef meets Chuck licks, comparison to a lo-fi Exile On Main Street is the obvious, yet perhaps on-the-nose, point of reference. Though, while it (obviously) doesn’t reach the heights or same stylistic diversions of that perennial classic, slaving away in the basement resulted in a quite lethal dose of proto-punky street glam and gutter pop, with sides of darkly drifting, psych-leaning rockers that presciently sound like what some of the best of the American Underground would become a few years on.
Issued in ’81 Strung Out… harbors two bonafide trash classicks—initially planned to be paired as a 45, now only survived by a single acetate—in the opening title track and the raw power pop/gutter-pop of “Anytime.” Beginning with a slow, surging ‘70s Stones riff, “Strung Out On The Line,” could’ve nearly been pulled from a later period Hollywood Brats rehearsal, replete with a mid-paced rave-up and ‘60s blues-punk harmonica break, while “Anytime” would’ve done the Poppees/Boyfriends proud in its collision of Stonesey riffing and jangling, pure pop chorus. Few punk-era combos have channeled Mick and Keef so well… Elsewhere there’s hints at the more joyful/tuneful later period Gizmos in “Dance Tonight” and “Too Much Traffic,” the psych-punk lines of “Just Can’t Help It” and they even reach punk-era pace in the Killed By Death-styled winner “Time.”
If you dig the early Romantics when they as much raw, Detroit power as they were jangling pop, the post-NY Dolls sound of LA street rats The Joneses, or any of those mentioned above, you’ll find plenty to love here. Not the deep-dive find of our time, but highly enjoyable for UT readers in its breadth and trash aficionados alike. [Insert includes liners by surviving member Richard Pleasant and represents all stenciled, spray-painted, Xeroxed and pasted-on cover variations of its original, limited, DIY run circa ’81.]