Formed: Los Angeles, California, USA
Beginning life in the early 70s as a surf band, by 1977 The Alley Cats - husband-and-wife Dianne Chai and Randy Stodola, plus drummer John McCarthy - had upped their obnoxiousness and obstreperousness considerably to fit in perfectly with the racketsome but somehow intellectual Dangerhouse roster of bands (Avengers, Weirdos etc).Their debut 45, released March 78, Nothing Means Nothing Anymore features a Dead Kennedys-like surf guitar. but the irksome, theatrically wobbly vocals of Stodola make it a chore to sit through (for me anyway). Their second vinyl outing, a track on 1979's Yes L.A. compilation, 'Too Much Junk' is miles better, with great singing from Chai and a totally catchy chorus.
Never the most productive of outfits, they next released a single two years later: Night Along The Blvd b/w a re-recording of 'Too Much Junk' augured well for their first LP, and though Nightmare City was a little late in coming and includes both sides of both singles (all re-recorded), their new slicker, rockier sound was still good and sleazy.Later that year, A&M Record put on a highly publicised tour featuring various punk/new wave bands of the period, including The Police, XTC, Devo, The Cramps, Dead Kennedys, and Gary Numan. The Alley Cats were there too, and contributed a live version of 'Nothing Means Nothing Anymore' to the resultant document, URGH! A Music War. This presumably lead to their major label debut Escape From The Planet Earth, but this proved to be their last recording as The Alley Cats. They changed their name to the Zarkons and released two more long-players: Riders In The Long Black Parade and Between The Idea & The Reality... Falls The Shadow (1988).
Their few recordings for Dangerhouse are, on the whole, easily good enough to qualify their creators in the punk hall of fame, albeit as a footnote.
Dianne Chai - vocals, bass
Randy Stodola - vocals, guitar
John McCarthy - drums
Singles / Albums
|Nothing Means Nothing Anymore
|Night Along The Blvd / Too Much Junk
|Escape From The Planet Earth
|Riders In The Long Black Parade (LP, as The Zarkons, 1985)|
Sharp Cuts - New Music From American Bands US LP 1980 (Planet): Black Haired Girl
URGH! A Music War UK 2xLP 1981 (A&M): Nothing Means Nothing Anymore (Live)
Me Want Breakfast - The Dangerhouse Collection US LP 1987 (no label): Nothing Means Nothing Anymore
Dangerhouse Volume One US LP/CD 1991 (Frontier): Nothing Means Nothing Anymore
Dangerhouse Volume 2: Give Me A Little Pain! US LP/CD 1993 (Frontier): Give Me A Little Pain / Too Much Junk
We're Desperate - The L.A. Scene (1976-79) US CD 1993 (Rhino): Nothing Means Nothing Anymore
Live From The Masque US CD 2003 (Dionysus): One More Chance
N.Y. L.A. - The Voice Of America Australia LP (Picnic Rock): Too Much Junk
Read Trouser Press' panning of the band here