Thursday, December 23, 2010

REVIEW: "Terminal" - Pistol Whip

Growing up, every summer concluded with a ritual – a trip north to Erie, PA –one day on the beach at Presque Isle and the next buying school clothes at the Millcreek Mall.  This was fascinating stuff for a rural kid– and at some point, after the Levis and Nikes were purchased, I would be awarded time to hit the two places I most lusted after – Books Galore which had both comics and used paperbacks, enabling to me to stock up on what I thought at 13 smart people read (Camus, Plath, Sartre) and Record Den where I bought what I thought cool people listened to (Dead Milkmen, Echo and the Bunnymen, and Gang Green).   But, by the time I got to the party, Pistol Whip had already self-destructed.

Pistol Whip was the (self-claimed) first ever punk band from Erie, PA, and their lone 7-inch on Endangered Species, released in 1977, is a scorcher and a prized collectible.  Now, however, Smog Veil has given the band their due in a gorgeous digital release.

The band moved to Chicago in 1978, and recorded a 10-song demo, also included in this release.  The accompanying DVD contains wild 8mm footage from back in the day plus interviews, photos, and more.

Pistol Whip built their sound and attitude around the most notable punk rockers from the late 1970's punk rock heyday.  There’s some Ramones in their sound certainly – 12 sounds in 33 minutes -- and the sound of a sound slowly being developed as the band progresses from the the first two tracks  which were the band’s only 7-inch  (whose original two-track master tapes were miraculously unearthed in August of 2009).

It’s hard not to imagine that Pistol Whip’s sound must have been like a bomb going off in Erie’s Bay, today though, it’s pretty much just rock.  That’s not to discredit the band however. In fact, it’s much the opposite – without bands like Pistol Whip inspiring a generation of musicians, those big guitar hooks would still be as shocking.  Sure, Pistol Whip embodies a lot of hair band metal cliches – casual misogyny, sophomoric humor, demonstrations of musical technical excellence for excellence’s sake, but this is in retrospect.  

Smog Veil Records deserves a lot of credit for resurrecting this band – whether you buy it for the history or for the music itself, the presentation and music make it a valuable addition to the collection of punks, music historicists, and rockers.

To find out more about the band, go to the band’s website at

Check out:

Tellin’ You” – Pistol Whip.

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