BIG BOYS

Formed: Austin, Texas, USA

Discography / Lineups

Not all punk bands were obsessed with death and politics.
Hardcore + pop + art + funk + skating + being rather gay = Big Boys.

Big Boys

This original and inspiring band from Austin, Texas peppered their poppy brand of Minor Threat-ish hardcore with rollicking uptempo funk (not dissimilar to Gang of Four) and art-rock (recalling a less-intimidating Mission of Burma). “I like punk and I like Sham/Cockney Rejects are the world’s greatest band”, they sang on the title track of their second EP, a great, sexy record if there ever was one, and one that perfectly captures their sense of good-natured humour. Their singer was a big fat gay guy, Randy Turner, who was often seen on stage in a nurse's uniform. In 1982 they toured with The Dicks and Bad Brains, the fallout from which almost ruined Bad Brains (see under the Bad Brains section for the grisly details).

Big Boys backstage at the Whiskey

They got off to a slightly shaky start with Frat Cars (1980) , which benefited from the snotty, obnoxious title tune, a great punk song if ever there was one, but the other three songs are artier and not memorable. The controlled mania of their side of the Live At Raul’s (1980) split album isn’t especially exciting, with bass-heavy mid-tempo art-rock-funk-pop songs about serial killers and isolation. It’s well played, spottily enjoyable and the crowd seem they’re having a ball, but there’s not a lot to suggest the band are about to break down any barriers.

Much cleverer is their debut album proper, the clumsily-titled Where’s My Towel?/Industry Standard (1981) on which the band veer between accessible sixty-second hardcore blasts, a funky kind of new wave punk, and Mission of Burma-ish rock. They even present the world with a manifesto on 'Spit': “We’re gonna just keep acting crazy and give the customers a little bit of what is fun and what is happy in their lives” is hardly a conventional punk sentiment, but utterly refreshing. The one constant factor is that all twelve songs are eminently hummable and Biscuit’s semi-hoarse vocals (the less distinctive but affable Chris Gates takes vocals on some tracks).

Lullabies Help The Brain Grow (1983) is precisely more cuts from the same cloth, only with more songs and a longer running time (15 tracks averaging two minutes apiece), with slightly more emphasis on hard-and-fast punk than before. A marvelous record, in other words.

Opening with 'No', a riff-heavy Black Flag-ish tune complete with a Greg Ginn-style solo, one might be lulled into thinking the band are getting seriously angry on No Matter How Long The Line Is At The Cafeteria, There's Always A Seat! (1984). Unfortunately, it seems they’re just searching for a new direction, resulting in a scrappy parting shot, with the angular roughed-up funk of Work so much like early, dour Gang of Four that it renders the “Dance, life is a party” refrain of the otherwise exuberant 'What’s The Word' hollow. Nevertheless, 'Which Way To Go' is an inflamed pop song, one of their greatest moments, and No Love is a blast.

After the band split in 1984, Gates formed Junkyard, a supergroup (of sorts – they were awful) with Brian Baker (Minor Threat, Dag Nasty, Bad Religion, Meatmen etc).

Wreck Collection compiles nineteen unreleased recordings, but they’re mainly just different versions of previously available stuff, including live cuts, eight-track demos and instrumental versions. Apart from these there are a handful of compilation tracks (including the awful 'Damage 43' from Cottage Cheese From The Lips Of Death: A Texas Hardcore Compilation LP) and some out takes. Again no great shakes: it appears the unreleased numbers were unreleased with good reason, and the band unloaded their weaker material on comps. Until you've acquainted yourself with the “proper” recordings you shouldn’t be tempted by this, and even then proceed with caution. The CD issue on Gern Blandsten adds fifteen extra tracks, including a more unreleased tunes of marginal interest.

The two compilations from 1993 - The Skinny Elvis and The Fat Elvis - offer all their rare early stuff onto a couple of highly desirable discs, making them very cost-effective alternatives to buying the original vinyl versions. Plus, with liner notes provided by Steve Albini, Ian MacKaye, John Mohr, Jeff Nelson, Henry Rollins and others, tasty photographs, and reproductions of record sleeves, it’s a treat for the eyes as well.

DISCOGRAPHY

Singles / Albums

Big Boys - Frat Cars Big Boys And The Dicks Recorded Live At Raul's Club Big Boys - Where's My Towel/Industry Standard Big Boys - Fun, Fun, Fun... Big Boys - Lullabies Help The Brain Grow
Frat Cars
(7", 1980)
Big Boys And The Dicks Recorded Live At Raul's Club
(LP, 1980)
Where's My Towel/Industry Standard
(LP, 1981)
Fun, Fun, Fun...
(12", 1982)
Lullabies Help The Brain Grow
(LP, 1983)
No Matter How Long The Line Is At The Cafeteria, There's Always A Seat!        
No Matter How Long The Line Is At The Cafeteria, There's Always A Seat!
(LP, 1984)
       

Extraneous Releases

Big Boys - Wreck Collection Big Boys And The Dicks Recorded Live At Raul's Club Big Boys - The Skinny Elvis Big Boys - The Fat Elvis Big Boys - Wipe Out
Wreck Collection
(LP, 1988)
Big Boys And The Dicks Recorded Live At Raul's Club
(7", 1992)
The Skinny Elvis
(CD, 1993)
The Fat Elvis
(CD, 1993)
Wipe Out
(7", 1994)
Big Boys - Lullabies Help The Brain Grow Big Boys  / Butthole Surfers - Tri-X Noise      
Lullabies Help The Brain Grow/No Matter How Long The Line Is At The Cafeteria, There's Always A Seat!
(2xLP, twofer, 2004)
Tri-X Noise
(7", split with Butthole Surfers, 2018)
     

Bootlegs

Big Boys - Big Boys Bootleg        
Big Boys
(7", 1991)
       

Various Artists

Moment Productions US 8" Flexi 1983 (Moment Productions): Lesson / Funk Off

We Got Power: Party Or Go Home US LP 1983 (Mystic): Brick Walls

Cottage Cheese From The Lips Of Death: A Texas Hardcore Compilation US LP 1983 (Ward-9): The Big Picture

Rat Music For Rat People Vol. 2 US LP 1984 (CD Presents): History / The Seed

Something To Believe In US LP 1984 (Better Youth Organization): History

Blazing Wheels And Barking Trucks - Skate Rock Vol. 2 US LP 1984 (Thrasher Magazine): Lesson / Assault

Rat Music For Rat People Vol I, II & III US CD 1987 (CD Presents): History

Someone's Gonna Get Their Head To Believe In Something US CD 1992 (Better Youth Organization): History

Punk Anderson's Favourites Germany 2xCD 1995 (Starving Missile): Fun Fun Fun

Party Or Go Home - Sixty Bands US CD 2004 (Mystic): Brick Walls

Time Out Presents The Other Side: New York US CD 2005 (Deaf Dumb & Blind): Prison

Links

 

 

You can add stuff and make comments/corrections by emailing me at:

jane@punkygibbon.co.uk

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