When Bullet Lavolta's "Baggage" demo (which I think started out as a radio tape, actually) came out in '87, the buzz surrounding the tape from whomever got their hands on it was immediate. And no wonder-- "Baggage" was a raw punk classic, like "Sonic Reducer" if it got revved up by the Zero Boys, and it slayed just about everyone who heard it. Most of the other songs on the tape were decidedly not so great, but whatever; it was just a demo, and "Baggage" was so mindblowing that there was bound to be a bunch more good songs later on...
Only there wasn't. Even Kenny Chambers joining the band didn't help, and Bullet Lavolta quickly flamed out in a pile of cheesy metal riffs and stupid lyrics. When I saw them at Maxwell's towards the end of '87 (possibly on a bill with Government Issue, though I don't really remember), I wasn't all that impressed. Bored, I started yelling shit at the band during their set, which wasn't too bright on my part, as it was probably the one time in my life that the singer on stage seemed close to actually punching me.
I bought a copy of their Taang CD, "The Gift", sometime afterwards, just to try to figure out what went wrong, and it was all there-- the clunky tempos, the squirrely guitar fills all over the place, and Yukki Gipe's self-infatuated, wannabe-punk-god posturing. Nothing all that good, just a lot of wasted potential.
As sort of a meaningless side note to all of this, I didn't realize when I was buying the CD used that the inside of the booklet had been autographed by the band. At first, I figured the signatures were just a pre-printed part of the booklet, in the same way that I can imagine bands like Kiss and Motley Crue would have on their record sleeves-- big fake "Paul Stanley" and "Nikki Sixx" stamped in factory-printed scrawl over the top of their photos-- and I thought, "What a bunch of rock star douchebags." But it turns out that they're actual signatures, because I can see where the tip of the ballpoint pen left indentations on the paper. Who knows, I might be the owner of a Bullet Lavolta CD that originally was a leftover 5th-place consolation prize from some dorky WBCN radio contest in 1990, or whatever.
In any case, here are the two best songs from Bullet Lavolta's various 1987 demo recordings, some of which was later pressed as "The Gun Didn't Know I Was Loaded" ("Baggage" is a must-hear, if you've never heard it), as well as the opening track from 1989's "The Gift", which I'm including just to show how things had gone downhill afterwards ("The Gift" was eventually re-released on some stupid major label).
Bullet Lavolta -
(these files are now listen-only)