K9’s “THE K9 HASSLE” 3-SONG 7″EP (READING,U.K.- DOG BREATH, 1979)
Here’s a funny, kinda off-the-wall EP from the U.K., land of a million punk bands in the late 70’s and early 80’s. You can read a history of the band on the great Punk 77 site so I won’t bother repeating it all here.
According to Brian Sayles’ great Punk Rock Picture Sleeve gallery, there were a total of 1,500 copies pressed- the first pressing was 1,000 while the second pressing was 500 with a stamped sleeve. Apparently, some copies also came with three inserts. This EP goes for a lot of money when it turns up so what happened to all 1,500 copies?
You can tell the K9’s had a good time recording this EP, and for me all three tracks are winners even the long, “less punk” leadoff track “The K9 Hassle” that clocks in at the non-punk length of 3:37. It’s is a GREAT piss take on the whole dug/reggae thing that was so big in England at the time with some punks. The song is complete with whistles and funny fake Jamaican accents, like when one guy says “I want you all to do de K-9 Hass-el” near the 2 minute mark which is followed by someone else shouting “Ya man!”. Hilarious also during the chorus when they keep saying “Do it doggy style!” like real smart asses. [As a sidenote, the whole punk/reggae connection was big in the U.K. in the 70’s but that shit never caught on over here in the States’ punk scene to the same extent. Thankfully, because I almost always run away covering my ears when I hear “white boy reggae punk”. I mean, the Clash’s cover of “Police and Thieves” is great and made my Top 250 Song list but tunes like Ground Zero’s “T.V. Land” are just shit.]
Back to the K9’s- of course collector scum know the second track on this EP, “Idi Amin”, after it was the leadoff track on the first Back To Front comp LP that came out in ’93. Good-natured tune, but with a twist usually not found in good natured songs- an amazing mean, thug punk guitar chug noise. The skronk at the 1:18 mark is just superb. The chilling documentary Idi Amin Dada about the notorious ruler of Uganda between 1971 and 1979 had come out a few years earlier in like 1976 so maybe the band saw that flick and was inspired to write a ditty about the evil dictator (?).
The third and final track, “Sweeney Todd”, is along the lines of “Idi Amin” with some more nice thuggy guitar noise- check out the great solo at the 1:06 mark. The popular Broadway play “Sweeney Todd” came out in 1979 so perhaps that was their inspiration for this ditty (?). The interesting thing about this thuggy song- and “Idi Amin”- is that the choruses are hummable or whistle-able, whatever your preference is.
According to the K9’s page on the Punk 77 site (that was written by a fan of the band in the late 70’s), there were a few unreleased songs that never saw the light of day. If they sound anything like this EP, then I hope to hear them one of these years.
Since I brought it up before, I have to say that the Back To Front comp series was just too darn spotty for me. Don’t get me wrong- there were some really great, previously unknown tunes spread across its six volumes that were released between ’93 and ’95. What got me about the series is how the compiler tried to cram in too many other genres like powerpop, pop punk and even some mod-flavored stuff. I always thought he should have created another series for all that other shit and left Back To Front to be along the lines of the early Killed By Death volumes in terms of rawness and wildness. See, I’d be digging some rawer sounds a Back To Front LP and then all of the sudden the next track was some powerpop tune with a “Whoo Ohhh” chorus. Argh. It really ruined the flow of things for me. I also got frustrated sometimes when he included the “wrong” song from a KBD record, a.k.a. the weaker track. Like City Kent- the obvious better song on their 7″ is without a doubt the mean grinder “Psalm” but Volume 4 of Back To Front included the more boring flipside, “Cancer”. Or Attentat- Volume 1 had the weak poppy track “Opera Hauset”. For me, a better choice would have obviously been Dod bland de doda from their 1st 7″ or something from their superb, spazzed out and much more rawer second disc,
the Stila dej inte EP. Back To Front was like Attentat’s first appearance on a comp and this is how they were presented to the world?! I am sure I’m not the only one out there who shares mixed memories of the series. The compiler Peter P. redeemed himself with his next three comps, the nice Break The Rules LP’s he released betwixt ’96 and ’99. He trimmed off all the fat by getting rid of the poppy stuff and included a lot of rawer, wilder stuff although he snuck in a few pop/mod tunes on Volume 9 (my choice for the weakest of the three volumes, natch).