JOKE FLOWER / VICTORY ACRES

Joke Flower / Victory Acres

(Placebo) Used Split LP $12.00

One of the last records issued Placebo Records, this one released in 1988, is more influential on countless people in and out of Arizona than many realize. In addition to the Clarks (Dan on bass, Mary on vocals, and Doug on guitar), The Victory Acres lineup includes the Meat Puppets’ Derek Bostrom and Cris Kirkwood on drums and organ, respectively. “Two Thousand Tegus,” a serpentine desert punk noise rag, kicks off the side, where Kirkwood weaves a keyboard line into Dan and Doug’s intricate bass and lead guitar. It segues into “A Cup of Coffee Please,” which brings Mary into the mix, singing and chanting lyrics based on the common sayings of a customer at Pete’s Fish and Chips, where Dan worked, who explains in a Phoenix Weekly article “[This guy] would come in and order a cup of coffee and occasionally spout some fairly accurate observations. ‘Some day safety will become a hazard’ ... ‘Unwrap that gift and burn it!’ He also wrote equations on napkins. ... I couldn’t figure them out but I’m sure they were important.” Nervous energy abounds, from a circus-like dirge straight out of the Ray Manzarek school of organ grinding to the track “Let’s Just Lounge,” a classic piece of Phoenix punk with killer oddball hooks that weave themselves into your brain as the Clark brothers’ fingers find their way around the fret board. On the Joke Flower recordings, where the Clarks (this time with Dan on guitar) and Sun City Girls’ Charlie Gocher on drums are joined by Casey O’Neal on bass, things are intentionally more mellow, though lyrically just as angry as anything else going on in early ’80s hardcore. The country-tinged opening of “America’s Breadbasket” is a deft feint that jumps into a political punk rant about religion and freedom of choice, while maintaining its decidedly un-punk musical direction. Every rant on the record is basically flawless, but it is “Dirty Hands” with which a typical Phoenix punk would be familiar (even if s/he is unaware of the source), with the infectious lyric “Masturbating with dirty hands / drop the bomb, drop the bomb, drop the bomb / squeeze the seeds of life out of your glands / drop the bomb, drop the bomb, drop the bomb.” It’s a trippy and slightly askew album, created with truly inspiring efficiency in the recording studio by relatively short-lived incarnations of two bands that were weird and gifted.