(Originally written on my Agony Shorthand blog back in 2005 as a review/celebration of 45 Grave’s posthumous “Autopsy” LP)

was a brief period in my life, quite early in my punk fandom, when I
declared to the world that the greatest 45 in the history of punk rock
was this band’s “Black Cross / Wax”. I once stumbled onto college
radio three sheets to the wind and pronounced it so, and proceeded to
emit a ghoulish, gurgling on-mic scream along with Dinah Cancer during
“Black Cross”’s crucial break. Only after years of ridicule and
subsequent therapy can I make my fragile peace with that godforsaken

I bring this up because I’ve seen very few fans hold
this band up for much of anything in the intervening years, except as
one of many cool early 80s bands trolling for gigs in Los Angeles during
a period in which there were plenty. Goths haven’t really fully
embraced them, least not last time I checked, given 45 GRAVE’s
– or at least this album’s – fast, screeching, near-hardcore tempos.
These tempos and the sheer power & speed of the delivery on this
fine record mitigate a whole host of problems, not the least of which is
the lyrics and all the bat/cave/crucifix/coffin tomfoolery they were

When “Autopsy”
came out posthumously in 1987, a lot of us were truly floored, because
outside of “Black Cross” we’d never heard 45 Grave play so fast. They’d made ther mark up to that time with an awful dirgy metal tune called “Party Time” that was on the “Return of the Living Dead” soundtrack, a film soundtrack notable to me in high school because, like “Repo Man”, it had PUNK on it!!!

But “Party Time” blew, as did the majority of the band’s only official LP, “Sleep In Safety”. What I didn’t know until In The Red put out that fantastic CONSUMERS
LP was that the early 45 Grave were a direct outgrowth of that blazing
Phoenix punk band’s 1977 recordings, and that the “Autopsy” recordings
were 45 Grave at their very earliest, ripping it up in fine
full-fidelity style like THE MISFITS and THE BAGS. Since
they featured not only Paul Cutler from The Consumers but Don Bolles
from The Germs & Rob Ritter from The Bags, the tear-it-up pedigree
was highly refined & practiced in the legend-making punk rock dark
arts. And Cutler was bold enough to swipe most of his best songs from
The Consumers, and then re-record them with a female singer & his
hot new band = 45 Grave.

Granted, the horror BS was/is a
little much, but like The Misfits, it was a gimmick that could mostly be
shunted aside if you pretended you’d recently had a partial lobotomy.
Only “Dinah Cancer”’s banshee vocals and some select atrocious lyrics
still make my skin crawl, now that I’ve mentally removed my frontal
lobes. This collection nets you that wild-ass “Black Cross” 45,
certainly one of the top 197 punk 45s of all time, a large batch of
90-second howlers, the novelty “Monster Mash”-like “Riboflavin Flavored,
Non-Carbonated, Polyunsaturated Blood” and even an early “Partytime”
that almost doesn’t suck.

I wasn’t even sure this even made
it out to CD until I read that it’s one of the rarest CDs going, selling
on eBay for $268. Now how do you figure that? I busted the LP out last
week and gave it a full-bosom nostalgia listen, and I can say that the
center still held. Check your local auction listings and keep that
wallet stuffed!


At one point (1980-81) THE MEAT PUPPETS were so experimental and deranged that they fit best on bills with arty synth bands and weird hardcore punk/goth bands who spit fake blood on stage. I’d have enjoyed this night of Los Angeles debauchery very much had I not been such a young’un at the time.


I played this smoker, “Teen Love Song”, on my Dynamite Hemorrhage Radio Podcast #9 last week, and I got calls from as far away as Moldova, Ceylon and Persia that it had melted the earbuds off at least seven different iPods – and one Zune!

THE CONSUMERS were a Phoenix punk rock band who up & moved to Los Angeles, recruited scary goth punk singer Dinah Cancer to front them, and turned into 45 GRAVE. They’d have never gotten away with the less-than-classy set of lyrics they display here on “Teen Love Song” with a woman singing them, which is why 45 Grave didn’t do this song yet did virtually all of the other Consumers songs captured on their posthumous LP/CD, “All My Friends Are Dead”.