Having cut my teeth on bands like Dead Kennedys, DOA, Black Flag and the Circle Jerks, when the hardcore floodgates fully opened for me in the early-to-mid 80’s, there was a veritable nation of new music to choose from. The ranks of this underground movement were filled with countless angry, young bands with lots to say, usually punctuating themsevles with provocative, tastelessly declarative and/or willfully objectionable names. From the Butthole Surfers, Suicidal Tendencies and Jodie Foster’s Army to the F.U.’s, the Fartz and Bullemia Banquet (just awful), there was no shortage of ensembles ready and eager to offend for the purposes of getting their music across. But of all those records from that era, the one that continues to stick out in my mind that really gave the envelope of taste a seriously hefty shove, it was the self-titled debut from a Michigan combo called -– wait for it -– the Crucifucks.
Given the singularly outrageous nature of their moniker -- a giddy combination of blasphemy and profanity -- I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the band managed to sell copies of their LP based on the burly strength of that name alone. I believe I first heard them courtesy of a mixtape messily assembled by my friend Spike (not his real name, immortalized here), and it left an impression.
The thing about the Crucifucks, however, was despite the irreverent giggles generated by that name, their album cover (a deceptively placcid nature scene, above) and their song titles (choice favorites include “Go Bankrupt and Die,” “Cops for Fertilizer” and “Hinckley Had a Vision”), it never seemed exactly defined if they were kidding or not. I mean, one could peruse the oeuvre of the Meatmen, scan their song titles, and safely assume that the guys in the band were just tasteless dicks. But, in the case of the Crucifucks, there was something about the delivery of vocalist Doc Dart that suggested he wasn’t just venting his considerable spleen for cheap laughs.
This was never so abundantly clear than in the video below, which I, until recently, never knew existed.
Here was see the disarmingly youthful Crucifucks having a bash through “No One Can Make Me Play Along With This,” a laugh-free screed that finds Doc Dart furiously taking the pilars of the establishment to task for their avarice and hyporcrisy. “Rockaway Beach” it is not.
While the bass player and guitarist are pretty much all business, Dart and drummer Steve Shelley (yes, later of Sonic Youth) put in quite a spirited performance. Dart’s disarmingly shrill, literally large-mouthed contributions betray any notion that he’s doing this soley for the purposes of entertainment (regardless of the chryons on the bottom of the screen carpet-F-bombing).
It’s a nice, pugnacious slice of 1982. Are people still making music this visceral today? If so, I’m not hearing it.