The Alternative Tentacles Reissues of Necessity is back! We've hooked another live one from the swirling depths of the most obscure, desirable, and just plain deranged.
Like many early punk pioneers The Eat operated in a near-total vacuum, in that infamous cesspool of clueless retirees and moronic sun worshippers known as South Florida. Forming in 1978 and playing their first show in July of 1979, it took another year before they were able to record. Their classic 7"s were rare and sought after from the moment they came out, distribution was nil, most were given away at shows and crushed on the spot, some even wound up lining a parrot cage. The result is that their 7-inches "Communist Radio" and "God Punishes the Eat" are some of the most sought after and obscenely expensive Killed By Death items ever!
Sure the limited/mangled pressings helped, but the band's twisted angle on the world has a lot to do with the value placed on their early vinyl. Specifically: political concerns like "Communist Radio", "Nut Cops", Kneecappin'" and "Nixon's Binoculars." Environmental awareness like "Manatee Smacker," "M-80 Ant Death," and "Living Like a Pig," as well as numerous celebrations of that seedy Florida lifestyle like "Catholic Love", "Silly Drug Songs", "Money for the Police" and "Psychotic McHale's Navy."
The Eat reappeared sporadically clear through the mid-'90s, yet still seem unaware how wide their cult and notoriety has spread, especially among people who've never actually heard them. There's a lot of information packed into this package to help those latter folks out, in full color!
Both early 7"s are here, the audio dropouts in the five "God Punishes" songs fixed up at last, followed by the entire "Scattered Wahoo Action" cassette album and all the unreleased songs from their aborted "Hialeah" album that was chopped down to their third and final seven inch. Sound is top-floor melodic punk 'n' roll - sort of a sped-up Real Kids with rock-bottom Angry Samoans-style lyrics. Disc One's a whopping 30+ studio tracks, many never before released. The CD version comes with a bonus live disc with two dozen more great-sounding songs and many a crude rude remark from band to audience. A landmark release from a landmark band on a landmark label!
Here's the complete version of the CD liner notes:
If you lived in South Florida between 1979 and 1985 and had an ear for rock 'n roll, you knew about the Eat. If you had a decent IQ and good taste, you loved the Eat. If you weren't there, or you just didn't get it, let me tell you a thing or two. The little bits of vinyl that have been impregnated with Eat music are among Florida's most valuable exports for one major reason-the Eat never gave a shit about whether or not anyone liked them. Pure expressionism, done purely for self gratification-that's was Eat music. Someone once said that the Eat existed only because the band members weren't about to join a bowling league. Remember Lee Ving and FEAR? Different coast, different sound-similar mindset. I can't tell you the ancient history of the band. I only know that it came together sometime after Watergate, but nearer to the taking of hostages in Iran. I CAN tell you a lot about the guys in the band. Two brothers transplanted from West Islip, Long Island, and two genuine, native-born Floridians in the original lineup. Sports fans all, telescope geeks some, and a would-be pro-wrestler on drums. All worked day jobs-three of them at the phone company before the wall came down. But what you really want to know about is the music. But you can't get there without knowing about the influences. The band members loved everything from Coltrane and Commander Cody to the Clash. The Eat wasn't created as a punk band but ultimately it was a punk band, at least by some of the most important definitions. The sound, once it took form around 1979, was something to marvel at. Been listening to rock n roll since the Fab Four were on Ed Sullivan, and I've never heard anything remotely like it. If Motorhead sounds like 10,000 pounds of locomotive, churning fast but steady, the Eat sound was a '67 Corvette fully blown, screaming up an interstate entrance ramp with 350 horses threatening to rip apart the fiberglass. This may not have been so much by design as it was the result of a creative tension, with some band members leaning toward a more melodic sound and others wanting to make it painful. Nobody won, but nobody backed down, so it came out like a gumbo, or I guess I should say a paella-with a little bit of everything in the mix. Drummer Chris Cottie was unorthodox, and inhumanly loud, bassists Newland and Lindahl kept it from fishtailing. The O'Brien brothers added jangling rhythms, power chords, riffs and funk. Fenders and Gibsons played straight mostly, through tube amps-one part Joe Strummer, one part Roger McGuinn with a shot of Dick Dale. And they both sang, sometimes in harmony. Eddie once said their voices were the main thing that kept them from having to worry about the price of success. But it worked. And what were they singing about? Those who asked might be met with a snide roll of the eyes. Seinfeld had the show about nuthin' right? Well Eat lyrics weren't exactly about nuthin. But they were, like the texts of the world's great religions, not to be interpreted literally. Michael said that in some instances the lyrics just had to sound good, like Dadaistic poetry. Take if you will: "Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for our sinners, make us the winners. Lay your head down on a hollow log beside me" Sometimes private jokes entered the Eat lyrics, at other times they were just warped ramblings of South Floridian Punk Rock Sports Fans. The Eat sang about real-life school administrators gone nuts, about wide receivers who choked, Cuban exiles wanting to call home, and other people's jilted lovers. They witnessed, reported, confessed on occasion, but NEVER preached. Unlike so many great punk bands, they were the news page not the Op-Ed. As much as anything that made them great, the Eat wrote great songs. My personal faves include 'Jimmy B.Goode', 'Dr. TV', 'Hey Jackass', and 'Open Man'-but take your pick. Words fail me when it comes to describing these songs. Walter Czachowski called one of them "transcendent". Perhaps we should leave it at that. The Eat chose their covers in much the same fashion as they wrote their own. I once actually heard a Muzak version of Journey to the Center or Your Mind, and thought of the Eat. Wolly Bully was a great juke box number back when the Eat did it, before the dawn of Karaoke. If you liked Grand Funk Railroad the Eat gave you some, if you liked the Byrds, they took 8 Miles High (their set-list spelling) to new decibels without destroying its soul. As you might have guessed, none of this is exactly a formula for becoming the next U-2 (and back before MTV there were no formulas.) The Eat knew this and the Eat didn't care. And because they didn't care they made some of the most lovely noise to ever squeeze its way out of a p.a. stack or a set of Pioneers. -Dave Fun, editor of the Borington Journal 1980-1982
At long last, here is the long promised Eat cd. Included is the mega-rare "Communist Radio" single, the "God Punishes the Eat" ep, the "Scattered Wahoo Action" cassette, the "Hialeah" ep and a bunch of unreleased material recorded at the same time as "Hialeah" (all of which are difficult if not impossible to find at affordable prices). The band consisted of brothers Mike O'Brien (vocals & guitar) and Eddie O'Brien (vocals and guitars), Chris Cottie (drums) and Glenn Newland and later Kenny Lindahl on bass. Starting up in 1979, the Eat provided the spark to jumpstart the original music scene in Florida, which had been dormant since the late 60's. I remember walking into Open Records in Deerfield in 80 or so and being pressured by Leslie Wimmer into buying the "Communist Radio" 45. It was pretty much the loudest, fastest and most obnoxious thing I had heard to date- much more so than the Ramones, NY Dolls and other bands I was listening to at the time. At the same time, parts of it reminded me of the Beatles. That a Florida band could put out such an impressive and unique record was amazing to me. Though the Eat was soon eclipsed in obnoxiousness by West Palm's Smegmettes and in the loud-fast department by 1000 hardcore bands, the quality of the songs and performances on this CD have really stood the test of time. Their next record (God Punishes the Eat) was just as good. Kneecappin and Nut Cop each have several memorable eat-phrases ("Smile fades from your mustached face"...."he hates to hear you lie"...."Flash light burns a hole in your mind") These records set the stage for many punk records to follow from Florida. They started the Florida punk rock traditions of cheap lousy production and small pressings, never being completely serious, and no commercial expectations. I can't think of anyone, before or after, who sounds like these guys. They don't really sound right on those Killed By Death records - it's a different kind of music. Their motivations may have been similar to the other KBD bands (a stated goal was to annoy people), but their diverse musical influences and talents created something distinct. The "Scattered Wahoo Action" cassette came out in 1982. At the time it seemed a little soft compared to other punk rock of the time. The production was still lousy and the songs were still there, but I was all Black Sabbath and Black Flag at the time. I couldn't totally relate to empathetic songs about people playing professional sports (and still can't!). Of course, I still played the thing half to death. The late 1980's saw the local scene taken over by hardcore, none of it very interesting. Seeing the writing on the wall, the Eat ground to a halt and fell into obscurity. At the time, the Miami punk scene became huge in the number of people at shows and the amount of out of town bands coming to town, but only one or two local bands were worth seeing. Mike played with Morbid Opera and the DT Martyrs and the rest of the band stayed on vacation.
Out of nowhere the Hialeah EP showed up in the mid '90's. I was in a band with Mike and Chris at the time (Drug Czars), and was still surprised by it's appearance - like it was a secret or something. Hialeah (named after one of Dade County's less fortunate cities) was easily 1995's best Florida record (there a was a lot of competition at the time too). Recorded in 1992, it stacks up with the first two records. Topics such as animal abuse (M-80 Ant Death), and strained relationships (Shoes Shoes Shoes) are dealt with in typical Eat fashion. Several unreleased songs, recorded at the same time as Hialeah are included here. We get more animal abuse (Manitee Smacker), songs about the Police, and local crazies (Mr Brown). The young South Florida bands at the time were a little more intelligent than their late 80's brethren and clearly appreciated the Eat's music (often covering their songs), leading the Eat to play their last two shows in 1996 and 1997 at Churchills. The shows were well attended with enthusiastic audiences. The first show was especially memorable. The Eat will never get the appreciation they deserve - except maybe for selling leftover records to record collector scum. I've heard the "God Punishes" that were used to line Eddie's parrot cage are a particularly hot item. Chris passed away a couple years ago. Eddie plays occasionally with Charlie Pickett and the other guys are threatening to start playing again. In the meantime, it great to have to stuff back in print... Jeff Hodapp Nov, 2005
"Alternative Tentacles dredges up the complete recording on Florida's long lost The Eat. 2 singles and a cassette album, along with a ton of live shit- there's 59 tracks on 2 discs here, all from 1978 to 1985. I love these re-release crash courses in (mostly) forgotten old bands- if the packaging is done right and there's good reading material in there, then it's a real treat to delve into the history of some band that came and went in a bang and a flash 20 or 30 years ago. With Alternative Tentacles you know the packaging is done right, and the liner notes are comprehensively written, so top marks so far... The music is great, poppy, rock'n'roll punk, with heaps of energy, passion, and just a touch of snot. Songs like "Communist Radio" (their 1st beloved KBD-comped single), "Young Guy," and "One Call To Cuba" should be known as the classics they are. Comparisons to The Real Kids have already been made so I won't go there, but I also hear something akin to Minutemen or The Big Boys in some of their later material, and at times even a more rock'n'roll The Nils. Gosh... so many great bands under appreciated and under recorded... when I invent my time machine I'm going to include The Eat on the list of bands I'm going back to round up. For now I'll just recommend this to you and thank A.T. for a job well done!" - Maximumrocknroll
"As Floridians in the 1980s, the Eat did punk rock with a strong classic rock influence, using jangle chords and harmony vocals as much as fuzz, snotty lyrics and high speed. It's impossible to not laugh while listening to The Eat, a band that understood perfectly how jokes, tossed-off insults, non-sequiturs and shaggy dog stories about old TV shows become even more compelling when wrapped in rock 'n' rolling punk attitude. 'I used to take LSD and smoke joints. Now I take LSU and lay points... I dream of Yogi talking in my head, I saw Yogi swinging a fungo bat' ('I Dream of Yogi')-now, don't you want to know someone who wrote that? These lyrics permeate the entirety of their newly issued discography, It's Not The Eat, It's The Humidity, collecting everything from their earliest turn-of-the-'80s 7"s to their sporadic reappearances in the mid-'90s. Some girl known to the band named Cheri gets cranky because 'My brother wouldn't fuck her!'- a sentiment delivered via meth-amped British invasion rock on 'She's Pissed Off.' 'Hey Jackass' brings 12-string Rick and more power pop suitable for splitting differences between garage rock, new wave and Denny Cordell-era TP And The Heartbreakers. Telling a 'Sub-Human' to get fucked and play the Rose Bowl, The Eat finish him off by commanding he stick his head in the sand and jerk off like a man. And a loathsome character called 'Manatee Smacker' is introduced, a homecoming queen or, perhaps, a football coach, some scum who never knew she or he was in a 'bad song.'" - Paper Thin Walls
"To be sure, the early days of punk spawned a countless number of bands that, despite how good they may have been, are doomed to obscurity by small pressings and limited distribution of their records. Even if the bands have managed to enter the canon, their records are all too often so hard to find (and prohibitively expensive should you find one) that while you may have heard of them, odds are you never heard them. This was the case with South Florida's The Eat. They are a band that I'd heard mentioned, but never heard. Their Communist Radio and God Punishes The Eat 7"s were rare from the moment they were released, and hardly anyone outside of Florida were exposed to them. Until now.
Once again, Jello Biafra and Alternative Tentacles are performing a public service by releasing It's Not The Eat, It's The Humidity, a collection of everything The Eat ever released (and a bunch they never released). And from the first play, you're going to have one of those "wish you were there to witness them" type of moments.
The Eat were snide yet poetic. Musically, they belt out fast furious punk rock, like a Southern version of the Sex Pistols with a heavy dollop of added musical talent, occasionally delving into disco riffs and other bits of weirdness that sound like a backwater jam session between the Talking Heads and the Minutemen. Themewise, their songs are as all over as their music, running the gamut - how exactly does one run a gamut anyway? - from politics ("Nixon's Binoculars", "Communist Radio" "Kneecappin") to animal rights ("M-80 Ant Death" "Manatee Smacker") to what can only be described as a lot of inside jokes and sports references that you may or may not catch, but will sing along to regardless.
And the album is packed. A two-CD set, the first disc compiles 30 tracks, including their two early 7"s, their cassette-only release from 1982, Scattered Wahoo Action, and an out-of-nowhere EP called Hialeah that popped up in 1995, as well as a bunch of outtakes from the Hialeah sessions. Disc two compiles another 29 live tracks from three shows in the early '80s and one from 1996. It does a great job capturing what they were like live, and is filled with crude patter between band and audience and many other notable moments, including sweet covers of "LA Woman" and a raunchy, sweaty version of "Wooly Bully" that would have been incredible to witness. Unlike many band compilations, the live tracks are even better than the studio tracks.
The production isn't great, fuzzy and lo-fi as is the production of a lot of low-rent punk records from the era, but it suits it very well. I'm glad that AT didn't decide to slick 'em up, and simply dropped it on CD exactly as it would have sounded had you been able to get records by The Eat back in the day. Not only is It's Not The Eat, It's The Humidity an essential record to own because simply because it's good, it's an essential piece of history to own - even if you didn't know they existed. Whether or not you'd heard of The Eat before now, the simple fact is that you do know about them, and it's up to us to buy the record, play it and share it, so this great bit of punk history won't disappear back into the depths of a few rich kids' record collections." - about.com