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V/A TOOTH AND NAIL- Compilation LP (Upsetter Records, USA, 1979)

It’s incredible that this compilation has never been officially re-released in full (or then, I’m too stupid to google it). Not only does this feature some of the greatest music ever recorded, it’s also a landmark in the continental shift of music that changed it all. Immediately after the Punk explosion of 1976-77, the media effects of it stroke back: A group of individuals, bands, labels, promoters, activists from all over started to pick up the tools and turn in the screws a little deeper. At least that’s how it seems to me in retrospect. The effect of this process of radicalisation was intensity in popular music like it hasn’t been there before.
«Tooth and Nail» is one of the compilation albums that document this process like few others. In fact, it’s kinda hard to think of any other compilation album of this intensity at all. That’s how I see it, that’s how this compilation affects me when I put it on and play it through. It’s one of these moments, when you sit there, glued to the speakers, when you totally focus on the sound, the songs and you wish you could shoot it all up your veins, sniff it, eat it, breath it, drink it. I spent years and years thinking about where these problematic phantasies of wholism come from, what it is that makes me feel music so physically, but I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I cannot explain it in one single phrase and any explanation I could give, would seem implausible to myself the next day, so I better leave it be and don’t bore you to death with it.

«Tooth and Nail» starts off with the three best songs in their best versions that the CONTROLLERS have ever recorded. Of these three, “Jezebel” has got to be one of the secret hits of the century (it’s an original and not a cover, right?): Melancholic, powerful, creepy, lascivious. It may not sound “Hardcore” when you hold it against the typical Thrash sound of the 80s, but man, this band has got exactly the Hardcore feeling. Of the same caliber are the songs from FLESHEATERS – easily the best stuff this exceptional band has ever recorded. “Word goes Flesh” – what a song. And then you get “Pony Dress”. Fuck me. Can this be real?! “Your an axe cage screaming from justice, roaming in the alleys, crying in the dark, you’re breaking up breakdown, my big day against the house, I’m stringing along the city to upset sex, expecting to end but marked to live, I’m gonna trip my holster, draw the bell spur, blur with with the ringing in your pony dress”. Fuck fuck fuck.
Next up is UXA with two songs that can also be found on the band’s essential LP, “Illusions of Grandeur”. NEGATIVE TREND ram a full dose of anxiety and said grandeur down your throat with “I got Power” and yet another version of “Mercenaries”. You’ve heard the band’s EP here, haven’t you. The MIDDLE CLASS turn up the speed and deliver the best song they ever recorded in the phase prior to the band’s new direction, “Love is just a Tool”, followed by “Above Suspicion”, a song that always reminds me on certain passages on “Boston not L.A.”, don’t you think? The GERMS(GI) contribution to this compilation is exclusive and cannot be heard anywhere else, I believe, and it’s never been re-released. Three hard hitting versions of three classics. The standout is one of the few songs I know that scare me – “Manimal”, especially in this version here, is one of the most intimate yet aggressive recordings. Not only are the lyrics of an exceptional literary quality (Darby must have had R. M. Rilke’s popular “Panther”-poem in mind when he wrote “Manimal”) – the screaming part runs chills down my spine when I hear it. So lost, so lonesome, so locked in. “Dragon Lady” and “Strange Notes” close this compilation LP, leave you breathless. What a journey into anxiety «Tooth and Nail» has been and, to me, still is.

Collector note: There seem to be two different pressings of this. The first one is featured here – it comes with a printed innersleeve and this pressing is pretty hard to find. Than there’s another press from the ca. early 1990s. The innersleeve is missing, nd there are additional numbers pressed onto the run out grooves. It looks like the pressing tools were the same as with the first press, which is weird. The cover print of the 2nd press is of lower quality, probably because the original films were not available anymore.

Download the complete «Tooth and Nail» compilation LP here. Ripped with love. Please somebody re-release this with extra liner notes and all (and a careful remastering job! Both the U.X.A. and the Flesheaters songs have some background noise and generally, the levels are very poorly balanced). This is one crucial document of time and it deserves all the attention it can get.