Various: Keats Rides a Harley 12” (Happy Squid Records)
Last Saturday I was sitting on the couch, scrolling away on my phone and having a relaxing afternoon, when a picture of the Fuck-Ups’ FU82 popped up on a local shop’s Facebook feed (Sound Off Records & Hifi here in Raleigh, in case you’re wondering). I jumped in the car and nabbed that record for a good price, and I was very stoked because I’ve been looking for that one for a long time. I also bought a few other records that must have come in with the same collection, including a copy of Keats Rides a Harley, a 1981 compilation on Happy Squid Records, the label associated with the Urinals.
I’ve been aware of Keats Rides a Harley for many years, but I can’t remember if I’d ever listened to it. I can, however, assure you that it never hit me like it did this week. In fact, my Fuck-Ups EP hasn’t been getting nearly the attention it should because Keats has been monopolizing my turntable.
There are a few things I like about this record. First, the production is great. The recordings resemble what you hear on a lot of early California punk records like the Dangerhouse singles or the American Youth Report compilation, with all the instruments clear and present, but with the perfect amount of grit. It’s also super short and doesn’t wear out its welcome, much like Chunks or Cracks in the Sidewalk. I’m not sure why Californians loved short compilations, but I’m down. Finally, it’s just full of great tracks. The Gun Club song is awesome, the Meat Puppets turn in a scorcher from their early hardcore period, Toxic Shock sounds like a reject from the American Youth Report comp and the unknown S Squad serve up the record’s best song. And that’s just the a-side!
I also picked up a copy of Keats Rides a Harley’s unofficial sequel, Warf Cat Tales, and it’s also excellent, though it’s not as punk and the artwork’s Dick Tracy vibe hasn’t aged as well. The recordings are still raw, though, and the mix of bands is eclectic but very strong. cordings are still quite raw, though, and the mix of bands is eclectic but very strong.