“Drive My Car” (Limited Edition Deluxe 12” single)
(Left For Dead Records)
As every punk knows, it’s not terribly uncommon for many bands of a certain vintage to have a pretty abbreviated catalogue of releases. The idea of “one and done” isn’t uncommon at all, really – but it’s still saying something when a band’s total output was limited to one single before they closed up shop. That’s not small, that’s infinitesimal – so of course there has always been a market for Nastyfacts’ only release, a three-song single which was recorded in 1980 and released in 1981 on the independent Jimboco label. These days, rat-racing, scenester fiends have been known to pay hundreds of dollars for a copy that they can call their own, and apparently, “counterfeiters regularly sell out bootleg pressings” of the single on top of the limited number of copies which were originally released. With a market so obviously interested in the music, it makes sense that Left For Dead Records would press and reissue the single, but the cool thing about this 12” single is just how timeless it proves to be. The three cuts included on the single don’t sound bound to a particular time (as is usually the case with reissues) – they’re all accessible regardless of the times when they were written and recorded.
When needle catches groove and “Drive My Car” opens this running as the only cut on the single’s A-side, listeners will find themselves immediately transported to a place which doesn’t feel like New York (with screeching tires and big engine sounds, the idea that anything about this song has anything to do with NYC falls away), but does feel big and dense in form. There, singer/bassist Cherl Boize touches on the usual points of teenage argument (“I’m not as drunk as I look/ I’m not as stoned as I seem”) before jumping into areas which feel far less likely (lines like, “I’d rather dance than read a book/ I’d rather drive my car than dream” just feel false or overstated – after all, nobody drives in New York) and then they just fly off to run through the same rhythms over again. It’s simple, direct and succinct in a way that no one really hopes for when it comes to a punk song.
Now, any one with a sense of history will say that there isn’t anything remarkable about “Drive My Car” at all. There are obvious comparisons which could be made to The Dead Boys and maybe early Misfits songs, but a second listen illustrates that nothing like this was happening in New York. This song is great, but it is a dream; punk in New York never dreamed of cars and never discussed hitting anyone with a car either. It’s because of the fact that the song is good but goes nowhere near feeling like a “New York punk” song is the reason why listeners will flip the single over to see what else NastyFacts may have in them. The song is good, but flawed.
The first cut on the B-side is much, much better. There, as soon as “Get To You” starts, the song maintains the speed that “Drive My Car” introduced, but there’s no question that the structures (both lyrical and compositional) are far stronger, this time. Throughout the running of the song, time-honored lyrical cliches like being (to paraphrase) “another day older and deeper in debt” have been re-thought amd re-postulated in a manner which feels fresh and new, and the call-and-response vocals which run through the choruses are coated with a thick layer of sugar which leaves listeners wishing the song was longer than its two-and-a-half-minute runtime.
…And finally. For one last cherry to close out the running of the single, “Crazy ‘Bout You” just blazes through to sear the single’s B-side shut. Now, in the strictest of terms, there isn’t a lot of deviation in form or style between the three songs which comprise this single [in fact, this critic had to double-check by playing through again to confirm that they’re not all in the same key –ed], but there’s no debate that “Crazy ‘Bout You” feels like a peak in the single’s play. There, NastyFacts’ overall performance feels less nervous than it does on the other two cuts, and the result lets the single close strongly; the guitars crunch with a presence and confidence that is just not present elsewhere on the single, and the vocals feature a passion and power which ventures well beyond that of the other songs too. By the end, again, because the song is so short (two minutes, twenty-five seconds), those who have run front-to-back with the “Drive My Car” single will still be vibrating because of the incredible energy in what they’ve experienced and may very well feel as though a second play will need to happen right away in order to get some real satisfaction. It may come off as problematic in print, but listeners will find that they’ll do what they need to, here; there’s no doubt that this Deluxe Edition of NastyFacts’ only single is great, but that there is no more music by the band to be found is more than a little heartbreaking. [Bill Adams]
The “Drive My Car” (Limited Deluxe Edition 12” single) is out now on Left For Dead Records. Buy it here.