The Gears 
Rockin' at Ground Zero

The D.I.s
Rare Cuts

A proper Hollywood rock 'n' roll band always sounded something like the corner of Western and Hollywood Boulevard (and southward from there); grinding dirt and grease and beat-to-shit Datsuns with busted mufflers, trannie hookers, Mexican saints and old-man bars. Head north a few blocks, turn a corner and you can find Cecil B. DeMille's old mansion. Go south a few feet and score some Mexican tar. It's where you can feel and hear certain desperation because you're this close to Tinseltown but adrift with the never-wases, the broken and the brown-skinned illegals. Unless you're blind, there's true beauty there. The Doors and X had it. Guns N' Roses sorta did, but Warrant and Poison absolutely did not. 

This is where the Gears and the D.I.s come in; each was very Hollywood, each were headed by the original Axell (that's Axell G. Reese, a classic rock 'n' roll frontman with an uneven complexion and a Billy Lee Riley yelp). 

This two-disc set houses the former's excellent 1979 punkabilly album Rockin' at Ground Zero and newly discovered demos with the latter's complete studio recordings (and major label misfires), including everything X guitarist Billy Zoom produced, all from its inglorious 1982-'92 run. (Of many highlights, the D.I.'s take of Buffalo Springfield's "Mr. Soul" stomps the original.) Why the D.I.s didn't play the big sheds across the U.S.A. back in the day — but the Stray Cats did — is beyond reason. Give 'em kudos for mocking the idea here, though.

This twofer from the underrated world of East Hollywood, and its untold rock 'n' roll and punk rock, is essential, and just in time for a punk rock Christmas this year.

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February 24, 2021

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