TMS Music: The Judy's - Washarama


I stumbled upon an entry about The Judy's in the unfortunately titled Punk Diary: The Ultimate Trainspotter's Guide to Underground Rock 1970-1982. (A great reference book, but God, what a stupid fucking title). The gist is as follows:

• The Judy's formed in the early 80's in the Houston suburb of Pearland Texas.

• The high school friends played their first gig in their school cafeteria and sold records out of their lockers.

• A few weeks after releasing their first single, guitarist Sam Roush was killed in a car accident.

• The Judy's carried on without a permanent guitarist, so most of their songs feature only vocals, bass, keyboard and drums.

• After releasing a couple of EPs, the Judy's released their first full-length album, Washarama, in July of 1981. It became something of a regional hit, but never got any national exposure.

The idea of a punk band without a guitarist was intriguing, so I tried to track down some of their early EPs on vinyl. Due to their small pressings and regional distribution, The Judy's albums & EPs sell for obscene amounts of money on the resale market. I'm not in the position to shell out lots of money on a band I'd never heard before; especially one from Texas. Thankfully, The Judy's started their own record label, and have recently re-released their catalog on vinyl and CD. So I took a gamble and shelled out $16 + shipping and ordered the remastered Washarama on CD.

The CD consists of 18 songs. The first 12 are from Washarama, and the remaining 6 are from the Wonderful World of Appliances EP.

Stylistically, The Judy's sound like The Violent Femmes trying their damndest to be The Ramones; which is fine by me. The bass-heavy songs and fast pace (the longest song clocks in at exactly 3 minutes) works great with The Judy's pop- lyric sensibilities. Although none of the tracks suffer from the loss of the guitarist, the minimalist approach to drumming coupled with the slightly annoying vocals of singer David Bean make the bass-driven tracks sometimes come across as a little cartoonish. But the smart lyrics and fast pace more than overcome the minor shortcomings and push this release out of novelty record territory and into the sparsely-populated realm of truly unique listening experiences.

Thematically, Washarama covers all the punk/new wave bases of the late 70's-early 80's scene. There are songs about notorious murderers ("Dogs," about the Son of Sam, "How's Gary?" about Gary Gilmore and "Guyana Punch" about Jim Jones), songs about television addiction ("T.V." and "Rerun"), and lots of songs about adolescent angst towards the opposite sex that run the gambit from adulation ("Her Wave") to bitterness ("All the Pretty Girls," "Girls, Girls, Girls."). There's even a song about the Iran hostage crisis ("Vacation in Tehran") which seems as poignant today as it did nearly 30 years ago.

If you think you've heard it all from the glory days of the punk/new wave era, you'll want to give Washarama a try. Wasted Talent Records has brief samples of a few of the songs on their website, so you can get the gist of what to expect from the album. If you don't want to shell out that kind of cash for a CD, you can always bug iTunes until they carry it.

Tracks to Stay Tuned For: High Society, Her Wave, Underwater Fun, Guyana Punch
Thunder Matt Rating: 4 capfuls of fabric softener out of 5

Comments

Anonymous said…
Their sound live was much better than is captured in studio. I only saw one show at Club Foot in the early 80's but it was so much better than the CD's. CD's are historical but live they were magical.