Zero Boys – Vicious Circle (CD)

Before receiving “Vicious Circle”, the defining statement of the early-eighties punk/hardcore act Zero Boys, I thought Secretly Canadian was strictly an indie-rock label. Turns out that my assumption was misguided, and the label will release anything that is solid. For those who did not remember (or were not born when the band released this album, including myself), the Zero Boys were an Indianapolis quartet that lit a flag under the youth of midwest America unlike no other during this period. The disc itself starts out with the titular track, a song that more than any other on the CD really speaks volumes for who the band was at that time, and what they intended to do by the end of the disc.

The end of the disc is also interesting because during “Hightime”, “Charlies’ Place” and “Trying Harder”, what results is a punk band that is kicking throughout the entirety of the disc. It has been my experience that even storied acts like The Ramones and Bad Religion tend to start to wind down towards the end of the album, no matter how solid of an album it may be (“Suffer” is a perfect example of this). “Dirty Alleys/Dirty Minds” is the pinnacle of Zero Boys’ perfection on “Vicious Circle”. Covered through the years from when the band originally played it to the current, “Dirty Alleys/Dirty Minds” represents the state of society during this period, and more generally, speaks well to the plight of human existence. Where it seems as if Matt Freeman (Rancid) was one of the first individuals to come up with the breakneck bass lines that punk has largely adopted, it is the work of David (“Tufty”) Clough that should be seen as the beginning of the movement.

Secretly Canadian’s version includes two bonus songs that were not present on the 1982 release: “She Said Goodbye” and “Slam And Worm”. These track provide further insight to what Terry, Mark, Tufty, and Paul-Z were trying to do during this point in their careers, and the inclusion of these tracks gives me hope that Secretly Canadian may be able to unearth some other rarities from the Zero Boys archives (“History Of” is a nice berginning, but I feel that there are probably live recordings or something similar currently out there, if someone chose to dig deep enough).

Top Tracks: Forced Entry, Civilizations Dying

Rating: 8.7/10

Zero Boys – Vicious Circle / 2009 Secretly Canadian / 16 Tracks / http://www.secretlycanadian.com

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