A positive review of the least positively received album.
One day while browsing the used rack at Music Express I noticed a copy of Circle Jerks VI. I recognized the name from a middle school yearbook picture. Around this time I had been discovering all sorts of new music. Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, Ramones. All the classics. I popped in the Circle Jerks CD and liked it right away. I purchased the CD, and the Circle Jerks quickly became one of my favorite bands.
VI is the fifth album from the Circle Jerks. Recorded 7 years after their debut set, the music had progressed much at this point. The band fell stagnant after this was recorded, and after several years touring on this album and not recording anything new, the Circle Jerks split. VI is widely regarded as a weak followup to 1985’s metal influenced Wonderful. It’s all punk to me.
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Kicking off with Beat Me Senseless, the same track that kicks off the live album Gig, VI is off to a great start. A great riff from guitarist Greg Hetson sets both the mood and the pace.
Casualty Vampires, Tell Me Why, and Protection are solid tracks, leaning towards the social commentary that seems an undercurrent to the whole album. I’m Alive, along with Living and I Don’t, takes a more introspective approach. A positive song from a band that was borne from the drug fueled nihilism of the circa 1980 L.A. punk scene, now growing older and less capable of living a self destructive lifestyle.
The Circle Jerks sound right at home with Fortunate Son, a CCR cover. Their version really fits both the band and the album. All Wound Up, the album’s shortest track, would have fit in nicely on the bands third album Golden Shower of Hits. While a few songs seem like filler, none are out of place or hard to listen too. The album ends on a high note, with the aforementioned I Don’t, a fast track and a personal favorite.
Although some, perhaps even Morris himself, dislike what the Circle Jerks ended up on VI, it is a solid album. Perhaps less punk to some ears, I found it at just the right time in my life.
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