Poison Idea

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Poison Idea were a hardcore punk band from Portland, Oregon in the 1980s and 1990s, notable for their extreme nihilism and longevity despite epitomizing the life-fast-die-young ethos of other notables such as the Germs. Their debut EP, 1983's "Pick Your King" was a short and lo-fi blast of subminute furiosity, noted for the cynical and articulate lyrics and tight performance. The cover art appropriately displayed two self-proclaimed kings, Jesus Christ and Elvis Presley.

The follow up 12", "Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes" (guitarist Tom "Pig Champion" Roberts own collection is depicted on the front) was self-released on the bands own Fatal Erection label, and showed the band switching things up and incorporating a subtle rock element to their music, which was further honed on their contributions to several compilations from the same year. By the mid-1980s, Poison Idea had already outlasted a great many seminal US hardcore outfits and was ready to release what many regard as their best record, but what was undisputably a turning point in their sound. The thick, rock-fused LP on Pusheads own Pusmort label, "Kings of Punk", showcased the band at their tightest and most intricate to date, sacrificing none of the adrenalin or power of their earlier efforts in writing longer and more menacing material.

To this point the lineup had more or less been Jerry A, Pig Champion, Tense and Dead Johnson, but significant lineup changes were to come. For the next LP, the rock-fused crossover thrash effort "War All the Time" (the title derived from a Charles Bukowski novel of the same name) the lineup had been shuffled and a second guitarist had been found in "Vegetable Olsen", which might account for the blistering metal feel of so many of the songs and solowork in particular. This LP and the EPs to follow (12 inch EP "Getting the Fear", and the 7" EP "Filthkick", as well as the 12" "Fuck Ian MacKaye", notorious for its outright antagonism of the reluctant if not outright unwilling straight-edge guru, which compiled both of the aforementioned releases) found them further developing a dark, rock-fused sound that they would hone to perfection on their next release, regarded by many to be their masterpiece.

Further lineup changes left the band to record their next release with bassist Myrtle Tickner, drummer Thee Slayer Hippie, vocalist/principle lyricist Jerry A, and guitarists Pig Champion, Mondo (who'd already had a stint as bass player through the Vegetable Olsen/War All the Time days to 1990) and the mysterious Aldine Strychnine, credited with writing more than his share of songs and mentioned during tour journals, but never photographed with the group. This combination made for Gorham/Robertson influenced guitar harmonies reminescent of, if not foreshadowing, later material by the superb Japanese group Deathside. 1990's "Feel the Darkness" LP, released by the band on their own American Leather label, is an indisputable punk masterpiece, possibly the most coherent and complete fusion of hard rock and blistering hardcore punk. Without Aldine in the band, the group followed this up with the even more straight-rock influenced "Blank Blackout Vacant", a record that you can instantly identify as being a foundation for the sound that Norwegian punk band Turbonegro would hone on their earlier records.

The groups final offerings before the cartoonishly overweight guitarist Pig Champion would depart the band were the LP "We Must Burn", a melodic and rocking record that incapsulates the strongest elements of the last Poison Idea lineup, as well as the 10" culled from the same sessions, "Religion and Politics Pt. II". (Interestingly, on both of these records they pay tribute to Japanese metallic hardcore antagonists GISM, one of the only bands they thanked on their early records.)

At this point Pig Champion left the band, and a series of average live recordings followed. The band was on and off hiatus for some years as Jerry pursued a solo project called The Gift among other things, but a 7" EP with an entirely different lineup save for Jerry was released on Taang Records in 1998. Entitled "Learning to Scream", the record was as cynical and powerful as one would expect from a true king of punk. Playing on and off with this greatly altered lineup for some years saw the band through to the present day, where Pig Champion has rejoined, although reputedly gigs with the band in their hometown of Portland, Oregon only. Rumour has it that the new LP they recorded in the early 2000's will be out soon.

DISCOGRAPHY

Pick Your King EP (Fatal Erection, 1983)
Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes 12" (Fatal Erection, 1984)
Kings of Punk LP (Pusmort, 1986)
War All the Time LP (Alchemy, 1987)
Filthkick EP (Shitfool, 1988)
Getting the Fear 12" (Rockport, 1988)
Fuck Ian MacKaye 12" (American Leather, 1989)
Darby Crash Rides Again EP (American Leather, 1989) - originally released as demo tape, 1982
Discontent 7" (American Leather, 1990)
Feel the Darkness LP (American Leather, 1990)
Punish Me 7" (American Leather, 1991)
Dutch Courage live LP (Bitzcore, 1991)
Blank Blankout Vacant LP (Taang, 1992)
Pajama Party LP (Tim Kerr, 1991)
We Must Burn LP (Tim Kerr, 1993)
Religion and Politics 10" (Tim Kerr, 1994)
Learning to Scream EP (Taang, 1998)