What’s The Rockbrat Listening To Today? BROWNSVILLE STATION – SCHOOL PUNKS (1974)

When people talk about great bands that came out of the motor city in the late 60’s, it’s usually bands like the MC5, Stooges, Alice Cooper, Amboy Dukes and Bob Seger that are tossed around – and rightly so. Yet don’t forget one of Ann Arbor’s BEST – Brownsville Station. It’ January, 2011 and I’m listening to the bands excellent 1974 release ‘School Punks’. This album was the follow up to their 1973 album Yeah! (which featured ‘Smokin’ In The Boys Room) and it’s a rockin’ album. Before I go further though, did you know that ‘Smokin’ went as high as #3 on the U.S. charts and #27 in the UK Singles Charts? The track sold over two million copies and went gold. Mötley Crüe’s dismal 1985 album ‘Theatre Of Pain’ would have sunk entirely had it not been for the inclusion of their cover of ‘Smokin’.  If I can thank Motley for one thing – it’s for turning people onto Brownsville Station. ‘School Punks’ successfully capitalises on the bands juvenile delinquent reputation with the street teen anthem ‘Kings Of The Party’ kicking the album off in a big way. Lyrically, the band wrote many tunes about high school misadventures all with a keen sense of humour, such as ‘Meet Me On The Fourth Floor’.  The Dictators wrote in a similar fashion – yet never once forsaking the hard rockin’ music. ‘Fast Phyllis’ is about a high school gal who makes it with the whole football team. Funny stuff – musically killer though. School Punks has the Cub Koda stamp all over it, and it was on this album that he moved into the spotlight, dominating the song writing and also the stage. He sings most of the tunes here and has a commanding vocal. Yet it’s his ability to pen tunes that are witty and funny that made him such a great song writer.  There ‘s a choice cover of Geno Washington’s “I Get So Excited,” a blues medley of “I’ve Got Love if You Want It/I’m a King Bee,” and a typically stomping take of Gary Glitter’s “I’m the Leader of the Gang.” The band’s influences were stuff like Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, The Who, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Link Wray. Yet Brownsville Station had a sound all their own. The guitars are loud and rocking hard, at times bluesy, always down and dirty.  It’s important that Brownsville Station are never forgotten – they made some amazing, fun, likeable and instantly appealing rock n roll that were anthems for high school kids in the US in the early 70s. They still sound great forty years later. This post is dedicated to the memory of Cub Koda who died of kidney disease on 1 July 2000 at the age of 51.

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