I’m not sure what I expected when I pressed play on my digital review copy of The Guns’ double LP but whatever it might have been was blown away by the visceral sounds of punk rock that just kicked their way out of my speakers and into my ear canals. Holy crap, I thought, these guys kick ass!
Checking out the press release that came with this download as well as researching what other scraps of information I could locate online, I found out that “these guys” were, ultimately, two guys. Scott Eakin and Dave Araca, ages 12 and 13 respectively, formed The Guns in 1982 as a side project from the band they were both in, The Dark, mainly as a way to jam together and perhaps burn off the excessive sugar high that is inherent in being a teenage boy.
They played at parties and maybe a handful of shows before recording a demo in 1983. Eventually they were joined by bassist Sean Saley towards the end of that year and continued playing tons of small gigs and shows until they roared into the studio to record an album (produced by Scott Lasch” in 1984, which was shelved).
I can’t find any real reason why The Guns broke up, but Eakin, Araca, and Saley moved on to new bands and never really stopped playing. That is, until Araca died from an aneurysm in 1994 at the age of 26. Eakin died of a heart attack in 2007. During all that time, only a song or two here and there made it onto a small-time compilation album or ended up as uncredited tracks on another artist’s CD (a Cleveland death metal band named Bowel, actually).
It all makes me realize how incredibly unreal it is that I am sitting here writing this as I listen to any of the music made by these guys. Throughout their own lives, other than a few reunion shows from 2005-2007 (three total, I think), The Guns never really got to properly own an album or CD of their own material at any time.
I, however, have it. And what an “it” it is. This double album release is basically any and everything the band ever recorded that was able to be remastered and made listenable. There are 43 tracks on this release with a total run time of just a touch over one hour. That’s music at a damn near Ramones pace.
The best and perhaps worst part of it all is that it’s all good. Holy shit is it good. Eakin, Araca and Saley just burn up these songs with three tons of talent and punk rock ferocity that easily rivals the very best of Black Flag and – oddly enough – also with the same “I’m so damned glad to be here and playing music” vibe that the Ramones exuded.
The snarling intro of “I’m Not Right” defiantly hurls all you need to know about this band in its insanely brief but wonderful 61 seconds, during which it asks:
Is it the way I dress?
I’m a burden to society
Is it the way I think?
I think different than you
Is it the way I act?
And, really, how could they be acting? I think these were just three guys that happened to be the right age at the right time and who could play music and write some fairly snarky and sophisticated street-smart (or is it street-smartass?) lyrics.
It is a damned shame that I am only now getting to hear this music. Born in 1971 these were guys my own age and I would have immediately shut down everything I was doing just to obsessively listen over and over to this album had it come out then. I would have worn my record player down to the nub as I did on my copies of Iron Maiden and Black Flag albums.
While they will hopefully sell the digital version of this release for quite a while, the vinyl press run that they’ve done is a super limited one (with period cover artwork that the band themselves had chosen for their recorded album in 1984). I think the press run was something like 900 copies. It’s one less as I’ve ordered my own copy.
So, quit stalling and go here to order your own copy. You will not regret it one moment.
Here is a breakdown (if you’re into that kind of stuff) of each track off the album and a bit of information about where they come from:
1) “I’m Not Right”
2) “Locked Inside” (from The New Hope v/a compilation)
1-2 recorded by Ray Fister at Pyramid Recording in Lyndhurst, Ohio (Fall 1982)
3) “Close Up”
4) “Green Grass”
5) “I’m Not Right”
6) “Kill Preps”
7) “Locked Inside”
8) “One True Desire”
9) “Outta Glue “
11) “Rotting Away”
12) “Shut Up”
14) “The Chair”
15) “Waste Of Talent”
16) “Your Mistake”
3-16 recorded by unknown person at Sound Factory in Mayfield, Ohio, in 1984
17) “Preps Suck” (extra track from The New Hope compilation) .
17 recorded by Ray Fister at Pyramid Recording in Lyndhurst, Ohio (Fall 1982)
18) “Locked Inside”
19) “Jetson’s Theme Song”
20) ” Kill Preps” (2)
18-20 recorded by Charlie Watts at Soundstage 25 in Cleveland, Ohio (Spring 1982)
21) “The End”
22) “Out Of The Ruins”
23) “Real World”
24) “Who’s To Say”
26) “Nickerson Gardens”
21-27 taped from a live radio broadcast by Frank Mauceri in Columbus, Ohio, in 1985
28) “Nickerson Gardens”
29) “The Attack”
28-30 recorded live on a boombox by Chris Smith at Variety Theater in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1985
31) “Kill Preps” (3)
31 recorded live by Dave Spiga at the Pop shop in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1984
33) “Ookla Away!”
32, 33, 35-36 recorded at a live practice on a boombox by Saley in the Marec’s family basement in Shaker Heights, Ohio, in 1984
34) “The End” (2)
34 recorded live by unknown person at The Guns’ last show at JB’s (down) in Kent, Ohio, on December 21, 1986
35) “I’m Not Right”
36) “Locked Inside”
37) “Ookla Away!”
40) “Discharge Song”
37-40 recorded live in Cleveland, Ohio in either 1983 or 1984
41) Instrumental 1
42) Instrumental 2
43) “Orkin Theme Song”
41-43 recorded live at the New Hope benefit concert by Vicky Sprague and Jimi Imij in South Euclid, Ohio, in January 1983