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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Entire Oral History of S.F. Punk Pioneers CRIME is Now Online For Your Enjoyment

Posted By on Tue, Mar 1, 2011 at 3:40 PM

Go all the way back to the beginning of punk, before it was even called "punk," before Sid Vicious was a Sex Pistol, back in the original time of those punk godfathers the New York Dolls, and you will discover a band called CRIME that formed in San Francisco. Most credit this band with recording the first West Coast punk record in 1976. Many contemporaries also credit the four members of CRIME with being total assholes. CRIME hated hippies, refused to open for other local bands, dressed in police uniforms, put dictators on its band posters, and disdained politics at the time it became a standard theme in punk. The band also helped define the early S.F. scene with shows at now-defunct venues like the Old Waldorf and the Mabuhay Gardens.

CRIME also ruled. Its music stands today as a testament to the brutal power of loud, primitive rock 'n' roll. Just check out "Frustration," above -- which I'd say is the best CRIME song -- or "Baby You're So Repulsive," which is also a winner. Then dig "San Francisco's Doomed" after the jump -- it's an all-time classic about this city.

Obviously CRIME isn't that well known anymore -- although there are good books with intimate details about the band and the early scene. The San Diego punk label Swami released a compilation of CRIME singles called San Francisco's Still Doomed back in 2007. CRIME also recently reformed, releasing the Exalted Masters album in 2008. Adding to the lore of CRIME, the excellent Australian music website Collapse Board today published a complete oral history of the band, which is well worth reading. Peruse a choice nugget of this local artifact after the jump.

Part of the story of Crime's second show, as told by member Johnny Strike:

We looked around for another place to play, and, after a sales talk with the manager of the Stud, a bisexual bar south of Market Street, he agreed to let us play one night with a one dollar cover charge. We decided to do a poster for this show, and I thought, since we were called CRIME, we should feature famous criminals on our posters! First, a series of war criminals, then gangsters, then serial killers, and so on. So, I thought we should start off with Hitler. The other guys OK-ed it, and it was done. Not surprisingly, stores refused to display the posters. I remember Aquarius, which promoted itself as some kind of alternative store, was especially nasty about it. The owner, Chris Knab, was also very slimy when we brought in our first single. He and Howie Klein, our self-appointed nemesis, later started the Outcaste Show on KSAN, and it was about as outcast as Knab's pseudonym, Cosmo Topper! Even though the first two singles got attention in England, and our shows in San Francisco did well, we were ignored by the local rock press, and the self-appointed representatives of punk and new wave to the mainstream. The only honest attempt to get things right was when the first issue of Search And Destroy came out".
Read the full CRIME story here.

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