Keith Morris, currently the lead singer of OFF!, started his career as co-founder and singer of Black Flag. Due to creative differences with the rest of the band (read: Morris couldn’t keep his nose out of the Chinese marching powder and was married to alcohol. The story is that Black Flag’s Six Pack is dedicated to Morris) he founded Circle Jerks a small year after breaking up with Black Flag. Circle Jerks was everything Black Flag was not: having fun instead of dealing with the seriousness and political correctness Greg Ginn and co stood for.
In the beginning there was some ‘hatred’ and envy going back and forwards. Morris, for example, never mentioned on Group Sex that the song I don’t Care was written by Ginn. Hence Black Flag rewrote the song and give it the more ‘appropriate’ title: ‘You bet We’ve Got Something Personal Against You’, which appeared on the Jealous Again EP released the same year Group Sex was released. For further entertainment, I recommend the book written by Morris entitled: ‘My Damage: The story of a Punk Rock Survivor’.
Group Sex, the album this review’s about, hit the record stores in 1980 and it didn’t take long to sell out. You’ll have to pay some serious money on Discogs to get the original. Reason enough for the recently founded Trust Records to re-release the album. The label focusses on long sold out Hardcore and Punk records and Group Sex is their first. Funny thing is that this one sold out within 24 hours and already pressed a second batch.
Fantastic! A true classic; should be in any punk fans’ collection. Favorite track: Live Fast Die Young.
Group Sex was very well received after its release in 1980 and is seen as a milestone of South Californian Hardcore. Even today, the record still stands as a skyscraper in Dubai and sounds anything but outdated. In fact, the short and fast songs are still, or again, very up to date. For example, Beverly Hills is about the sad and fake life the jet set in Los Angeles live. In operation he wants to be neutered because the world is already overcrowded and he sees no point in contributing to even more people in this world. In paid vacation he sings about the soldiers who fought in Vietnam just for the sake of oil. After losing that war the soldiers were sent to Afghanistan. The title track, Group Sex, was co-written by Jeffrey Lee Pierce, later front man of The Gun Club who Morris shared an apartment with. The phone number mentioned in the song was one of the band members real number: he still got phone calls from horny men years after the album was released.
The Trust Records release has been remastered without losing the original aggressive and rawness. The label also put a lot of effort by enclosing a twenty-page booklet. Not only with old photos, flyers and memories of the band members. Most fun to read are the memories from friends of the band, or people who are inspired by the album. Movie director Alex Cox tells that he insisted on having Circle Jerks playing in the movie Repo Man and that Morris and co had to wait hours and hours to perform. J. Mascis from Dinosaur Jr. explains how jealous he was of drummer Lucky Lehrer’s fast drumming. Speed was an obsession for Mascis at that time and for his then-band Deep Wound. When Turbonegro’s Happy Tom feels a bit depressed, he listens to Beverly Hills to cheer him up.
This album has four extra songs recorded in their rehearsal room at that time. It’s nice to listen how they sounded while practicing, but to me, they aren’t really necessary. Without these extras, this reissue is already perfect.