For the uninitiated, a very brief history lesson. Formed in Portland, Oregon in 1980, Poison Idea are one of the iconic American hardcore bands, one who melded the anger and energy of punk with more subtle hard rock elements. Inspired by the likes of Black Flag and Discharge, they had a style that many imitated, but no one could quite match. They in turn inspired a host of future bands, some of whom covered Poison Idea tracks on future release Machine Head (Alan’s On Fire), Pantera (The Badge) and Turbonegro (Just To Get Away) to name three.
This Southern Lord re-release of their 1986 LP “Kings Of Punk” has been given the full treatment, coming with extensive liner notes, and three bonus live shows as well as the album spread across two discs. It shows the band at its furious best, with more of a punk edge but plenty of hints as to what would follow on subsequent albums when the band introduced different element to their sound. It features one of the more stable line ups with Jerry A. (vocals), the late Tom “Pig Champion” Roberts (guitar), Chris Tense (bass) and Dean Johnson (drums).
The original album still sounds great, with huge riffs, politically charged lyrics and a ton of attitude. Showing a band full of ideas and before the alcohol and substance abuse took hold. It’s messy, noisy, angry and fantastic. The production, although remastered, is gloriously unpredictable and just how 80’s punk should be. Raw, ugly and brutal. ‘Lifestyles’ kicks things off and from there it doesn’t let up. It shows their sense of humour, with ‘Ugly American’ introduced with the line “I once knew a Jack who looked like a Jill and smelled like a John” as well as their dislike of the more right wing elements that haunted the punk and hardcore scenes.
The three live shows, from 1984, 85 & 86 are all soundboard recordings, and very decent quality when you consider their age and basic equipment they would have been recorded on. With a couple of covers thrown in (Elvis Presley’s ‘Jailhouse Rock’ and Motorhead’s eponymous track) and plenty of interaction and insults thrown to and from the crowd, this is a really good document of that scene and time. This is how reissues should be, stacked with information and extras (this one features a staggering 42 bonus tracks), making it an essential purchase for old fans and new converts. It may not be the stone cold classic that was 1990’s ‘Feel The Darkness’, but this album shows how they became that band. If you have any interest in punk and hardcore, you need to own this album.