DEFECTORS “CASH ADVANCE / LAST NIGHT” 7″ (FULTON, CA- DEPENDENT, 1981)
I know it’s hard to make out from this crummy picture, but the labels say “PO Box 253, Fulton, CA, 95439”. Fulton is about 60 miles Northwest of San Francisco and is actually in the central region of Sonoma wine country which makes it sounds like a nice, serene locale free of any urban strife or bad vibes. At least for the steady stream of tourists.
This Bay Area obscurity has some nice catchy keyboard-driven sounds, especially on the A-side, “Cash Advance”, which is the real gem here. It’s played at a very speedy and driving pace, almost like they are racing to the end of the song which is always a good thing for me. The drumming is really great, there’s some nice guitar noise near the beginning but, being a keyboard-driven song, those really set the tone for this ditty and are front and center throughout. The style with which the keys are played, combined with the singer’s voice, make this song sound so darn HAPPY and upbeat and there’s nothing dark or menacing about it. Which is fine ‘cuz things don’t need to be dark and menacing all the time. When you’re having a bad day, put on “Cash Advance” and it’s guaranteed to put you in a better mood and make you feel like you can conquer the world or something.
Keyboard-driven punk either works for me or it doesn’t and there usually isn’t any middle ground. The Xterminators’ Microwave Radiation is menacing and epic. The Gatecrashers EP from 1980 Denmark is a dark one and very good too. The Dickies’ “You Drive Me Ape” is a great, fun one. But my list of bad keyboard punk is MUCH longer and I don’t want to wreck my happy feeling by going into it right now.
I had never heard of the Defectors until March of this year when “Cash Advance” was included on Girls From Tahiti’s great memorial posting for Behjan Mirhadi. Then about a month ago blog commenter Nesho was kind enough (thanks again!) to hook me up with the B-side, “Last Night”. Which ALMOST doesn’t work for me. There are several reasons why I shouldn’t like it. First, it starts off sounding like it’s going to be some- yikes!- white boy reggae. Secondly, it’s got ballad-y lyrics (which usually turns me off) and finally the chorus has some wimpy chanting that makes me cringe at times. But overall the song is still VERY catchy and I end up liking it because there’s some kinda eerie keyboards that, thankfully, kick in after the initial reggae strumming and then again at like the 1:20 mark. They sound kinda hypnotic and reel me back in. There’s also a guitar solo near the end that sounds pretty good too. Being a guitar-centric person, this is a good thing for me.
For however punky “Cash Advance” sounds I don’t think The Defectors were part of the San Francisco/Bay Area punk scene. It looks like they were more in the “New Wave”/rock camp during the 80’s which I’m sure was at odds with the punks. They actually existed until 1985, played in various Bay Area-cities and released a handful of other records (another 7”, as well as a 12″EP and an LP) and appeared on three different comps. I haven’t heard any of their other records or comp tracks so I don’t know if they contain any punk-ish sounds. But I am guessing that “Cash Advance” was their punkest moment during their 5 year existence.
I stumbled upon a page for a San Francisco festival called Deathstock, and it turns out that The Defectors (the circa 1984 lineup) are reuniting to play a quick set this September 10th as part of the festival (as are No Alternative, among others). Their page on the Deathstock site has some surprisingly detailed info like a full discography and band member history. And I now see that the band has a Facebook page that is full of old photos and flyers (including one for a show they played early on in 1980 with, hilariously enough, Huey Lewis and The News, pre-super stardom). A YouTube user named wingchungdavid has about 20 old live videos of The Defectors posted on his page is you are so interested (but no live performances of “Cash Advance” unfortunately).