VICTIMS OF SOCIETY “(LOOKS SO EASY) WHEN YOU’RE YOUNG” 3-SONG 7″EP
(STATEN ISLAND, NEW YORK- TREBB RECORDS, 1983)
Here is the glued pocket sleeve that some copies came with- finding it in such nice condition without any writing on it appears to be tough to do! Dig those sleeveless muscle tees the band members were wearing- very 1983-New-York-New-Jersey! The guy in the middle looks like he is really trying to model and show off his black shitkicker cowboy boots, what with his hand on his hip and all.
Above is how promo copies looked- they did NOT come with a picture sleeve, but rather this plain white inner sleeve with two stickers on them. One sticker had band and track info while the other had contact info. [Man, seeing that font which was used on the stickers brings back some memories of noisy dot-matrix printers and early 80’s computing!] Anyway, the label number is RB-004, meaning that Trebb was not a one-shot deal just to release this EP. An earlier label release was by the Dispositions (“The Game/Broken Heart” 7″- anyone have this?). The bass player of THAT band (Tim Boyland) was involved in the post-Victims of Society powerpop band called True Rumor that featured the guitarist and 2nd drummer from Victims of Society.
Here is a GREAT 3-songer from start to finish from a bunch of guys who could really play their instruments! “Looks So Easy…” has been a favorite of mine since the first time I heard it back in 2001 when it was a standout track on the overall-good Hyped To Death #31 comp CD. The guitars from Steve Meko are more rock-ish than punk-ish and the song length is 3:25, nearly one minute longer than the “2:36” punk rule. But it just has that instant classic feel to it right from the first riff and is so damn catchy! It features some well-placed handclapping, which was rather played out by 1983, but totally works here. The tough singing style by Matty Walsh (RIP) sounds like it was done by someone much older but it was done by the guy sitting down in the above picture sleeve, and he does not look older than 20. The clever lyrics are also a highlight; again, they sound like they were written by someone who is around 30 and reminiscing about people he went to high school with around 10 years earlier, some of whom have had some intense life experiences. By 1983 the number of non-hardcore, PUNK songs that sounded like this were few and far between and I often wonder how people in “the scene” reacted when they heard this song since everyone was all charged up for fast hardcore in the Summer of 1983 when this EP was released and not slower punk songs with a melodic edge.
Well, they switch things up on the B-side with two faster, hardcore-ish songs that were shorter in length (a nod to the preferred musical tastes of the time, perhaps?). These two songs kind of blend into each other, and I had a hard time splitting them apart so I posted them as one long track (by long, I mean 3 minutes total- LOL). My favorite track is definitely the anthemic A-side but the B-side songs have a tense feel to them (always a plus for me!) and both feature more great throaty vocals. The drummer, Phil Portuesi, just pounds away like he’s racing to end of each song on the B-side and nice bass intro on “Act Becomes Real” by their bass player Scott Robinson.
Here are some photos of the band playing a live show in Staten Island circa 1983. An amusing video from the same show is on YouTube and features them playing Looks So Easy. The video is amusing to me because the venue is some makeshift place with wood-paneled walls and some weird fringe lights leftover from the 70’s hanging above the band (you can kinda see it in the above photo of guitar player Scott Meko). Everyone watching the band play are seated in these uncomfortable looking chairs, all orderly and sitting down and no one jumping around or anything- musta been strict house rules at that place against that there “slam dancing” or rowdiness. The highlight of the video takes place in the first few seconds when singer Matty Walsh starts warbling away and this older lady seated in the front row gets up from her chair and walks out with a disgusted look on her face.
Here is a YouTube video the band shot for “Looks So Easy…” shot on Bay Street in Staten Island, combined with some live footage from around the same time. I just discovered this thing on YouTube, but seeing that it was posted 5 years ago I am definitely “Too Late For The Trend”- doh! Dig the long black cape-looking thing that singer Matty Walsh is wearing- it reminds me of something straight out of an episode of Dark Shadows or something…
Band history for any history buffs like me who care… The Victims of Society (VOS) formed in early 1983, with two members coming from the hardcore band Rapid Deployment (how’s THAT for an early 80’s HC band name!): singer Matty Walsh and drummer Phil Portuesi. Punk band The Rage also contributed two members to Victims of Society: guitarist Scott Meko and bassist Scott Robinson. Drummer Phil Portuesi played on the EP but left the band soon after their record was released in the Summer of 1983 and was replaced by Bobby Lee Moller. Phil later played with some band called New Rose and then with ex-Misfit Bobby Steele in the Undead. After Victims of Society broke up in 1984, Steve Meko was in a pop band called Neutral Zone. Then, after that band he and Phil were in the powerpop band True Rumor who I guess released some records and were kind of well-known in that scene- I am not into powerpop so I know nothing about their “importance”. Ex-VOS bassist Scott Robinson later played in some band called TV3. Singer Matty Walsh passed away only a few years after Victims of Society broke up, under what circumstance I do not know. And a few minutes I just found out that ex-VOS members Phil is still playing music in some band called The Blame in New York City with ex-Rapid Deployment member Paul…