Under The Big Black Sun: A Vinyl Collection

News / Special Features / April 20, 2017

Under the Big Black Sun, by John Doe with Tom DeSavia and friends, gives a personal look at the history of the Los Angeles punk scene. Employing various perspectives, you get a full picture of what was going on at different times and in different areas of L.A. Today, we’re taking a look at the albums mentioned throughout the book, while making a worthwhile collection out of them. Which should you own? Are these albums even available still?

The Germs — GI

The first record from The Germs was produced by Joan Jett and released in 1979. GI oozes with energy and when it first came out, the band was instantly compared to the Sex Pistols. The album has 16 songs, with the last one breaking the mold and running for nearly 10 minutes. Other than that, you can make your way through the other 15 tracks quite quickly. It’s a must-listen from the L.A. scene.

A blue and black starburst variant is available on Amazon.

The Plugz — Electrify Me

This one’s a lot harder to find, simply because they only did a few printings of this album and the last one was in 1989. However, they were one of the first Chicano punk bands in the scene and brought a little more rhythm to their songs. You would have to be pretty dedicated to the scene to find this one, but two are being sold on Discogs and the only other listing I found was for a CD copy for $358 on Amazon. This is one you can pass on unless you can and want to spend some big bucks on it.

Black Randy and the Metrosquad — Pass The Dust, I Think I’m Bowie

Pass The Dust, I Think I’m Bowie is a wonderful album title. Once you give this LP a listen, you can tell the band was having fun with it. They have their own play on “Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud,” which was originally sung by James Brown. However, the group only uses that line and changes up the rest of the lyrics to better suit the punk scene. It’s a fun album and one worth checking out. In 2016, Frontier Records did a remastered pressing of the album, so it’s easy to get your hands on.

You can grab a copy for less than $15 on Amazon.

The Flesh Eaters — No Questions Asked

The Flesh Eaters had their first glimpse at being great with the 1980 release of No Questions Asked. The band was a staple in the scene and while the initial release consisted of 14 songs, there was a CD release that added 10 additional bonus tracks. So if you’re looking for 10 additional tracks on vinyl, you’ll be looking to grab the 2013 reissue of the album. Each side squeezes in 12 tracks, resulting in a slew of fast, upbeat melodies, the kind of pacing you’d expect with 24 tracks on a single disc.

You can grab the 2013 reissue over on Amazon.

Minutemen — The Punch Line

Minutemen took some lessons from The Urinals and applied them to their 1980 release, The Punch Line. Only two songs run over a minute on this one and you get 18 songs in 15 minutes from these guys, so there’s really no reason to not give it a listen. It won’t take too much of your time and the band will show you just how little time they take to get their thoughts out. The band recorded the album during a single late night session because those were the cheapest. If making an album in one night isn’t one of the most punk things to do, then I don’t know what is.

You can grab a copy of the album on Amazon.

Black Flag — Damaged

And so we’ve reached one of the big kahunas. Black Flag released their debut album in 1981 after some failed attempts to record an album with various singers. Henry Rollins took the role in Damaged and the band went on to record several albums, with the latest being 2013’s What The…. The band has an iconic logo that you’ll see tattooed on quite a few people, especially ones from the L.A. scene in the ‘80s, while bringing more of that hardcore edge to the punk scene. This was a big album for the band and one that should be in every punk fan’s collection.

You can grab a copy of it on Amazon.

Angry Samoans — Back from Samoa

Much like the Minutemen, the Angry Samoans had a lot of songs that ran under a minute. The simplicity behind the songs make them a joy to listen to and the band dropped this release in 1982 after they released an EP in 1980. “Lights Out” is a song that has been covered by a handful of bands, including The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. If you’re looking for some satirical punk, look no further.

You can grab a copy of the album on Amazon.

The Stooges — Funhouse

Before they were Iggy & The Stooges, they were just The Stooges. Funhouse was the second release from the band, with no song on this seven-track burst shorter than 3 1/2 minutes. An over-the-top outfit, which is no surprise with Iggy Pop leading the way. This is another one of those must-own albums.

You can grab a copy of the album on Amazon.

X — Los Angeles

The album title for this is pretty self-explanatory. Someone in the L.A. scene was bound to do it, and X did it with style. I first heard “Los Angeles” when it was in Tony Hawk’s Underground 2. The song instantly caught on with me and it’s a strong title track. If you want an album that catches the essence of the L.A. scene, this is it.

You can grab a copy of the album on Amazon.

The Flesh Eaters — A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die

The Flesh Eaters are making a second appearance on this list for a more underrated title in their discography. It was named after a spaghetti western from the 1960s. The band continued their streak of good albums with this one and it’s worth a listen.

You can grab a copy of the album on Amazon.

 The Go-Go’s — Beauty and the Beat

Yes, you read that correctly. The Go-Go’s were indeed part of the Los Angeles punk scene. The ladies had a hit on their hands with “We Got The Beat” and it’s one of those songs that you’ll still hear on the radio today. Rolling Stone named it as one of their top 500 albums of all-time, and the album had a big impact on new wave. “We Got The Beat” might be the catchiest song mentioned in this article, and if you don’t have this in your collection, what are you waiting for?

You can grab the 30th anniversary edition on Amazon.

The L.A. punk scene left a mark on the genre in the ‘70s and ‘80s. These bands are just some of the contributors to the scene and you should definitely read Under the Big Black Sun if you want to hear from the band members, photographers, and more who lived it.


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Deanna Chapman






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