Song Of The Day 4/30/2015: The Outcasts – “You’re a Disease”

General Punk Week: A few clippings I’ve come across about the Outcasts, one of the first punk bands to emerge form Northern Ireland, make an affectionate but very clear point that they were – well, there’s no way to phrase this sweetly, so I’ll just say it: They were incompetent. Even for punk. You can hear them in their signature single “Just Another Teenage Rebel” backed with “Love Is For Sops.” My, how they plod. Particularly the latter, a decimation of romance that avoids the complicated critical breakdown of, say, “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” The chorus: “Love is for sops/For sops is love.” The drummer keeps pulse like he’s reading an article on ottomans in Good Housekeeping at the same time; then about halfway through he speeds up. The guitars bleat, especially the one in the left channel. And lead singer Blair Hamilton (Blair?), likewise, doesn’t really show up until about halfway through, as if he’s trying to figure out if the lead singer in the Damned was an acceptable role model for his career before provisionally settling on “Yes, yes he is. He’ll do just fine.”

And yet, given all the very humorous lack of proficiency about the Outcasts, there’s something filthily charming about them. I don’t want to be too patronizing about it, but devaluing the sloppy quotient of the punk formula is just counter-productive. Besides, they seemed to get most of their act together in time for “You’re A Disease” – except for the drums, which are still hilarious. Well, the lyrics aren’t much to write home about either. And yeah, the guitar playing still makes the Ramones sound like progressive rock wizards by way of comparison. But it’s late, and I don’t feel like fighting it. Besides, Billy Joel told me it’s still rock and roll to him and I should just relax and enjoy the beautiful sunset off in the horizon, and maybe relieve myself on the beach if I’m in the mood. Once the tourists walk past.

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