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.