THE M-80’S  “You’ve Been Told” b/w “What I’m After” (Get Hip Records #GH-118, 1989)

In their incendiary original (but very short-lived) lineup, Virginia garage-rock denizens The M-80’s will live forever in my Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.  Like The Ramones and AC/DC before them, this band was made up of a handful of suburban misfits and ne’er-do-wells, the kind you don’t bring home to mother, the kind who would’ve never lasted in a pedestrian covers-type bar band.  Not merely a bunch of wannabes who formed a band after hearing some Nuggets comps, these guys feasted on a regular diet of Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, The Pretty Things and The MC5, and lived that music.  At a time when it was not cool to do so, I might add.  While most folks were blaming it on the rain or stating it was their prerogative, these boys’ pummelling, amphetamine-fueled live shows were becoming the stuff of underground legend, often culminating in physical violence and broken guitars.  It wasn’t bound to last.  But oh, while it did…


The moment my needle hit the groove of this clear-red vinyl 45, the first of several quality singles The M-80’s would release over the next few months, I jumped up so hard my head hit the ceiling and my skull cracked wide open and my brains splattered all over the floor and I died and maggots and vultures swooped in and devoured my still-writhing carcass.  I never fully recovered, but looking back now I can enjoy the purity of this honest, blistering rock & roll moment.  I still get the DTs when I hear the opening chords of  this disc’s A-side, “You’ve Been Told.”  Catch a rare live clip of them performing the track, along with the concert favorite, “Kick The Shit Out Of You,” below.

See The M-80\’s perform \”You\’ve Been Told\” live on YouTube

Side-B features the  mid-tempo stomper, “What I’m After,” a Chocolate Watchband-style creeper soaked in reverb thick enough to make The Cramps jealous.  There’s no clip available, but you can stream it at a sweet MySpace page dedicated to their memory.  Meanwhile, don’t miss this other rare clip of the band performing their explosive ’91 Estrus single “’57 Nomad,” complete with powerhouse singer Eddie Pierce’s bad-ass spoken introduction.

See THE M-80\’S perform \”\’57 Nomad\” live on YouTube

Pittsburgh-based indie Get Hip released the first M-80’s full-length, In A Fury, later in the year, but women, dope addiction, incarceration, mental illness, and all the other myriad things that make rock bands great, took their toll on the band at the dawn of the 1990’s.  By ’92 our boys were history;  a posthumous collection of unreleased takes compiled by bassist Rob Katherman (featuring the coulda-benna-hit, George Carlin-inspired anthem, “Toledo Windowbox”) the only evidence of what was missed.  For years, their name remained spray-painted all over their hometown like the footprints of a ghost.

Eddie, Witt, Rob & Rusty, you guys thrilled me.  It’s because I saw you that I know what real rock & roll is.  And every time I spin this 45, my head still hits the ceiling.

NEXT WEEK: A Minnesota country boy sings a ‘Nam-era protest song, and takes it all the way to the Top 5.