Flag went through a couple of great lead singers before Henry
Rollins took the mic. Rollins delivers a truly manic style
of punk on this amazing recording, I'm glad I got to see these
guy play several times. Contains "Rise above", "TV
party", and a disturbingly deranged version of "Damaged."
Weirdos are still one of my favorite bands. Their pounding
and aggressive sound was the perfect backdrop for their dadaist
stage antics. Great songs like "Fort USA", "Happy
People", & "We got the Neutron Bomb" made
these guys legends.
crunching punk with rockabilly overtones & poetic lyrics.
Only LA could have produced a band like this. Contains all
the songs I saw them play in the late 70's, "Los Angeles",
"Nausea", "Johnny hit and run Pauline."
This, their first album, was produced by Ray Manzarek of the
Flyers from 1977 Los Angeles
Essay by artist, Mark Vallen
personally collected these flyers from various concerts
I attended during the late 70's and early 80's. I
even created "The Decline" flyer myself.
DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION
was filmed in 1979 and 1980, and still stands as one
of the best documentary films about LA's early punk
scene. While working at SLASH
magazine I was lucky to meet the film's producer,
and I became marginally involved in the production
of her film (I produced the subtitles that appeared
onscreen). I also created some of the promotional
posters and flyers for the film's release. I slapped
together the 5 x 8 inch flyer at right which was used
to advertise the movie's run in Hollywood. THE
DECLINE featured live concert performances with
The Alice Bag Band,
Black Flag, Germs,
Fear, and X.
were one of LA's first punk outfits, and their concerts
were always riotous affairs. Early on they issued
flyers featuring the artworks of Raymond
Pettibone, a fellow whose nervous pen and
ink drawings mirrored the disturbed angst of the band.
This particular work of his is a punk masterpiece.
The drawing features a pair of conservative parents
throwing their punk daughter out of the house, with
the angry father yelling: "Let your peculiar
Hollywood friends take care of you!" The flyer
advertised a concert at the infamous Hong
Kong Cafe, a venue in LA's historic "Chinatown"
where many punk bands played.
CIRCLE JERKS epitomized southern California's
loud, fast, and angry sound, and artist Shawn
Kerry did quite a few terrific flyers for
the band. This one advertised a 1981 concert at the
California State University of Northridge,
featuring the BAD BRAINS,
CIRCLE ONE, and
Kerry's humorous graphics gave an insider's look at
the punk scene, showing punkers slam dancing, drinking,
rioting, and otherwise engaged in "good clean
fun". Shawn Kerry also created some remarkable
images for the bands D.O.A.
and the GERMS.
MASQUE was LA's very first punk
rock club, opening in 1977. Located in a back alley
basement on a run down Hollywood street, the club
featured all of LA's best punk bands! This
flyer advertised a benefit concert for Flipside
Magazine (one of LA's first punk zines), featuring
the DICKIES, SKULLS,
EYES, and the
surrealist ARTHUR J AND THE
GOLD CUPS. Artist X-8
created this flyer using a photo of one of Hollywood's
first punks, a female Masque regular named Trudy
(she's holding an early issue of Flipside). X-8 created
the logo for Flipside and was was of the publications
original founders. Today he lives and works in LA
as an artist. You can see his dark and nightmarish
AVENGERS were one of San Francisco's original
punk bands. This flyer advertised a MASQUE
sponsored concert that took place at Bace's
Music Hall in Hollywood. After the Masque
had closed in 1979, punk clubs sprouted up like fungus
all across LA. Most were storefronts or shabby halls
rented out for a weekend... Bace's being one such
venue. The AVENGERS were one of the first punk bands
from SF, and their highly political lyrics and aggressive
sound made them one of my favorite groups. Their vocalist
was a beautiful young woman named Penelope
Houston (shown in the flyer). Before breaking
up in '79, the band released an album that was produced
by ex-Sex Pistol, Steve
GERMS played with MIDDLE
CLASS and BLACK
FLAG at this 1979 Hong
Kong Cafe concert. An anonymous artist
used a photo of a mental hospital patient combined
with the type: "A law unto themselves."
The caption to the photo reads: "All designed
to give people a better understanding of some major
problems of contempory life." As you might imagine...
the tiny little venue exploded with
energy that night.
was one of the first Los Angeles punk bands,
and they swiftly gained international notoriety with
their bone crunching melodies and unique LA take on
things. More than any other band, X helped
focus the world's attention on LA as the center
of the punk movement in the US. This 1980 flyer appeared
soon after the release of the band's first album on
and it announced two nights of concerts with the Chicano
punkers, The Brat.
GERMS were LA's most controversial
band. The outfit fronted by Darby
Crash embodied all of the rage, nihilism,
and chaotic energy of the early LA punk scene. Having
attended most of their "performances" I
can personally attest that their concerts were more
like riots than anything else! Crash
would wail and thrash around with unbelievable abandon...
and the band would cripple it's audience with an unrelenting
cacophony of punk noise. This terrific flyer by an
anonymous artist announced a set of concerts the band
played at the Whisky a Go
Go. The artwork shows a group of authoritarian
looking fans wearing Germs armbands. The small headline
in the upper left corner reads:"What God means
WEIRDOS were one of LA's first punk bands.
I became aware of the LA punk scene in 1977
while walking down Hollywood Blvd. and seeing
flyers like the one at right posted to telephone poles.
The WEIRDOS certainly lived up to their name.
The sound of their music was razor sharp and threatening...
but with a tinge of comedic madness. The band combined
their inflammatory sound with dada aesthetics,
and their bizarre on-stage behavior and dress made
you actually wonder if they were sane. The band's
graphics also presented surrealist images that were
strange and impenetrable. This flyer for a 1977 concert
at the Whisky
presents photos of the band members, their bodies
punctured by shards of broken glass.
DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION
opened in Hollywood in 1981, but not before the city
was plastered with thousands of these ominous posters.
created the simple design for the film's director,
and it was wonderful to see the posters stuck all
over the dirty streets of Hollywood... truth
in advertising at last!
in the late 70's we used to say that we were "living
in the ruins of tomorrow, today." Welcome to the Decline.
Recorded from 1979 to 1980, these knockout recordings present
LA's best at their finest. Fear, X, Germs, Bags, Circle Jerks...
it just doesn't get any better than this.
would goad and insult their audience between songs, and just
when the breaking point came they'd launch an audio assault
so savage and brutal that it left everyone weak. These provocateurs
wrote some of the most intense songs of the period, like,
"Let's have a war", "Foreign Policy",
and "I love livin' in the city."
to a Germs concert was like jumping into a riot. Front man
Darby Crash had magnetic presence that helped make this outfit
the most extreme of all the early LA bands. I was a big fan
and followed them from the beginning to the very end. Most
of us hard core fans were shocked when we were finally able
to read the lyric sheet contained in the band's first (and
only) album. Crash was a fantastic poet, and his dark and
foreboding imagery stunned us all.