Thursday, January 29, 2004

Just who invented punk rock? The Who often get credit for the anger, the Stooges for the rebellion, the Ramones for the brevity. But after listening to the Sickidz's Now and Then, it appears that credit should go to Mel Brooks for "Springtime for Hitler."

One night in 1990, I walked into the Khyber, then still officially known as the Khyber Pass, my favorite bar for seeing bands. Well, just my favorite bar since I've never seen the point of hanging out a bar that doesn't have live music. Anyway, I looked to my left and saw most obnoxious bully from my high school class. To my right was the guy who'd recently dumped me. An inauspicious start to the evening. But it improved. Alan Hewitt, of a bunch of different Philly bands, eventually and most famously of the Low Road, regaled me with the legend of the Sickidz. Mick Cancer, at that time a member of local favorites Pink Slip Daddy, got his start with Sickidz. Mick was a Philly writer who started touting Sickidz in whatever publication he worked for, raving about what great shows they put on, attracting the coolest crowds. Except that this was all a figment of his imagination. So he created the band to exploit the hype he'd generated. Eight years later, I was interviewing Palmyra Delran for a story on the Friggs for ROCKRGRL. She'd been in Pink Slip Daddy with Mick and confirmed that the legend was essentially true.

The Sickidz called it quits in 1984 but reformed in 2002, and last year released Now and Then, a collection of new recordings and live material from their original incarnation. It's got plenty of fire, drawing obvious influence from the Cramps but more garage-y and less rockabilly. Little Steven must not have a copy because, if he did, he'd be spinning it regularly on his radio show. It's a toss-up which song, or even which rendition, deserves to be named "Coolest Song in the World This Week."

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