Zero Boys – “Vicious Circle”

My company has this bonus program where you can earn “points” for various things – meeting certain goals, participating in projects, that kind of stuff – and these points can be saved up and use to buy items out of a catalog.  Now that may sound kind of lame, but my current iPod came to me via this program (i.e. it was free), and I have a number of other nice pieces of schwag to show for my points.

It turns out that in a dark corner of the online catalog you can also buy books, movies, and music.  And yes, even vinyl!  Admittedly the selection isn’t heavily weighted towards stuff I’m interested in, but I surfed the list the other day and found a gem – a re-release of the Zero Boys 1981 punk masterpiece Vicious Circle.  I had points to burn (20 points, if you must know), and all of a week later it showed up in my mailbox.  Free.  Thank you very much.

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I only picked up my first Zero Boys record a month ago, the re-release of History Of, and there is very little cross-over between the two albums with only “New Generation” and the band’s unofficial anthem “Livin’ In The 80s” appearing on both.  Not that there wouldn’t be room, because this 2009 version of Vicious Circle has 16 songs but is only 27 minutes long… and that’s with the addition of “Slam And Worm” and “She Said Goodbye,” which don’t appear on the 1981 original and account for four minutes of the run time.  The Zero Boys get in, and get out.  Fast.

Side A is early hardcore – it retains sort of the old school punk sneering and sound, but it’s played super fast.  Only “Livin’ In The 80s” breaks the mold of the speed fest on side A, and none of the songs are faster or cooler than “Amphetamine Addiction,” undoubtedly my favorite tune.  But there are other solid efforts here as well, like the Ramones-esque “New Generation,” the D.O.A.-like “Drug Free Youth,” and the Rolling Stones sounding “She Said Goodbye.”

(TANGENT ALERT!  I’ve been racking my brain for hours trying to figure out what “Livin’ In The 80s” reminds me of.  The song is undoubtedly the slowest on the album, more of a psych rocker.  And then it hit me.  The vocals sound just like Spinal Tap’s David St. Hubbins on “Gimme Some Money.”  Which is, of course, preposterous.  But also true.  And I’m glad I won’t be going to bed with that question bouncing around in my brain.)

Vicious Circle is top notch early hardcore, and if you’re a punk fan it’s a must-have for your collection.