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Classic of the Week

March 23, 1995|JON MATSUMOTO

Circle Jerks

"Golden Shower of Hits" (1983)

Avenue/Rhino

No, "Golden Shower of Hits" isn't a compilation of chart toppers by the seminal hardcore punk band from L.A. Compared to such current pop-punk hitmakers as Green Day and Offspring, the Circle Jerks sound about as commercial as a garbage disposal.

But the best punk rock has never been about appealing to the masses; with this satirically titled collection, these devil-may-care noisemakers showed they were far more interested in poking fun at the pop establishment than in joining it. In a punk movement known more for its nihilism than for its humor, this band proved to be one of the most appealingly funny practitioners. Who else would have had the audacity to record a very tuneless five-minute medley of sappy pop hits including the Carpenters' "Close to You" and the Captain and Tennille's "Love Will Keep Us Together"? Called "Golden Shower of Hits (Jerks on 45)," the track is illustrated hilariously by the album's cover photo--a collection of gold records doused unceremoniously in a urinal. The quartet even manages to tickle the funny bone with a cement-headed number about junk mail called (what else?) "Junk Mail."

Short, fast and furious, these high-energy salvos are buttressed by Greg Hetson's stun-guitar riffing, John Ingram's staccato drum shots and Roger Rogerson's busy bass work. But it is main shouter Keith Morris who defines the blustery and sometimes wry Circle Jerks' attitude. Morris can vent spleen with the best of the punk generation screamers. Yet he also is skilled at underscoring the absurd side of life with his simple but cleverly phrased social observations. Old veterans of the slam pit wars will laugh and howl when they re-experience such punchy punk tracks as "When the S--- Hits the Fan" and "Coup d'etat."

The Jerks recently signed with Mercury Records. Their first album for a major label--and first studio disc since 1987's "VI"--is due in June.

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