The Crawling Ear column: The Blood

James remembers his first introduction to classic punk bands - which set in motion a string of events leading to, well, this column, for one thing

I must have been a scant sixteen years of age when I happened upon the second volume of the Burning Ambitions punk compilation series. Actually, I didn’t really happen upon it – it was suggested to me by my local over-the-hill drug-fried record store clerk, Dave. Dave was hands down the most entertaining burnout I ever knew. He once claimed he had a dream the week before Wheels of Fire came out that Cream would put out a double record with a silver cover. He also once attempted to get a school supply discount on a can of grape soda by insisting he was going to drink it in a school zone. That still makes me smile.

But this entry is not a sweet reminisce of bong swatters I used to see on a regular basis; nay, this entry concerns a CD one bong swatter recommended to me. Burning Ambitions: A History of Punk, Vol. 2 was my introduction to classic punk bands outside the Ramones and the Sex Pistols. It erred pretty hard on the British side, with bands like the Vibrators, UK Subs, and the Business. I enjoyed those bands, but being a schmoe living in Florida in the late nineties, it was kind of hard to relate to that oi-oi, sod Thatcher aesthetic. Fuck Parliament? Like the funk band? I didn’t get it. There were only two bands on BA whom I felt warranted further research: Dead Kennedys (I could write a book – oh wait, I did try to write a book about the DKs, only to be shut down and completely discouraged by Jello himself; remind me to tell you that story some day) and the Blood.

The Blood track on Burning Ambitions, “Megalomania,” was a searing religious protest song, although I didn’t know it at the time. The singer’s accent was too thick and he was singing too fast to decipher a single word. Didn’t really matter, though. The melody, an up-and-down-the-scale run, was pretty much undeniable, and the backing ruckus sounded like a faster bootleg Motörhead. I got the general idea. The Blood were tellin’ some rotter to get off ‘is high horse. I really dug the means of conveyance (especially that blistering, bowel-loosening solo in the middle – yowza!). Unfortunately, there wasn’t much info on the Blood in the liner notes. Just a few sentences and a picture, in which one member was adorned in Cardinal’s robes (guess that should have been my first tip-off the target of “Megalomania’s” fury was theological in nature).

This being the days when the Internet was nothing more than a screaming toddler lacking direction and common sense, I had no hope beyond Dave and the other various record dorks I knew to give me Blood info. To paraphrase Arte Johnson, zey knew nothzing. The Blood’s records were all out of print, too, so no luck there. Slightly crestfallen, I filed “Megalomania” and the Blood away for the time being so I could concentrate on other more available musical phenomena. On to the Buzzcocks and Reverend Horton Heat, I thought.

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So forward went my journey, and before I knew it, my network of pot-smoking, vinyl-hording elders had completely disappeared. In their place, I gained my electronic buddies Wikipedia, Youtube, and Myspace. These new databanks are nearly as reliable, and they don’t hit on your girlfriend while you’re checking out the Cypress Hill section. Would you like to guess which one of these 21st Century tools I used to uncover the most up to date info on the Blood? If you guessed Myspace, you are correct. I don’t care how many teenage girls get felt up at the mall by thirty year old dudes as a result – I’m glad Tom/the Government/Castro created that magical place for friends (and totally obscure Brit punkers dressed like clergymen).

Yes, my friends, the Blood are officially representin’ on Myspace. Quite a surprise – I figured maybe I’d find one or two fan pages when I typed their name in the search engine, but the actual real band? Cor, blimey. Even more shocking: the Blood are still active, having recently recorded a completely unplugged acoustic affair which is due out sometime this month. Apparently their debut record was reissued via Captain Oi! three years ago; I have already ordered myself a copy. Oh, and the guy in the Cardinal outfit? Come to find out that’s the Cardinal. Not really ordained, just his fun little gimmick.

The most important find, however, are the lyrics to “Megalomania,” posted in their Myspace blog. I am no longer in the dark. Finally, I can fully appreciate this masterwork without scrunching my face up at phrases I think I’m hearing, like “you’re a Riker” and “athiests at Cinnebon.” Thank you forever, Blood. Keep fighting the good fight.

And thanks, Dave, where ever you are, for recommending Burning Ambitions in the first place. You don’t know what you started.

James Greene writes every week at Den of Geek – find his last column here.