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MURPHY'S LAW (Buy CDs by this artist)
Murphy's Law (Rock Hotel/Profile) 1986
Back With a Bong! (Profile) 1989

These popular skate punks from Astoria, Queens take a wisely unserious approach to thrash on their fine debut album. The quartet varies the tempos every which way — the LP only intermittently utilizes hardcore burn velocity — holding fast to a rollicking punk spirit without conforming to its stylistic regulations. The clearly produced record's title track has a winning "arf-arf" chorus; "Sit Home & Rot" addresses the urgent topic of couch potatodom without apology; other numbers ratify such essential life functions as "Crucial Bar-B-Q," "Fun" and "Beer." Throughout, the violent energy, good playing and spirited vocals by lead singer Jimmy Gestapo (Drescher) make Murphy's Law (on green vinyl no less) a near- brilliant mistake.

Back With a Bong! repeats the feat, adding simple horn charts to songs about eating, drinking, dental health, buying/smoking dope and patriotism. (Does this actually make youth culture sense?) The mixture of brass and thrash is more surprising than effective — except on a clumsy stab at ska, where the combination sounds awful — but the quartet's refusal to leave punk alone just might lead somewhere amazing one of these days. (Judging by the song "Bong," reggae is not their wisest path.)

[Ira Robbins]