Idle Threat

During the late ’70s, The Skabbs were probably looked at as just another garage band plinking around in the small Southern California bedroom community of Lawndale. Hindsight tells us that these kids were on to something, putting together the type of angular punk rock that would help inform the next decade. And although the band’s brief run came to an abrupt end after the death of vocalist Steve Salazar in 1979 from a pre-existing heart condition, the five-piece left behind a bundle of gems. Idle Threat corrals 17 previously unreleased tracks—recorded in 1977 and 1978—that fall somewhere between the weirdo art punk of Pere Ubu and the pissy sneer of the Sex Pistols. The songs are smart and smart-ass, occasionally dipping into the political and cultural issues of the time on tracks like “This is the American Way” and “You are the Hillside Strangler.” For the most part, though, The Skabbs remain in the fringe, especially on the slow burner “Spray Paint” (as in, it smells good) and the self-explanatory “N-N-N-N-Nervous.” Fidelity ebbs and flows throughout, but the songs themselves still hold up. I mean, I think we can all agree that spray paint smells good.