One of the progenitors of L.A.’s deathrock scene, 45 Grave is one of the most overlooked bands of the L.A. punk movement. Which is a damned shame. Formed in 1979 and originally featuring members of legendary West Coast punk acts the Bags and the Germs, and fronted by the crazily charismatic Dinah Cancer, they should have been huge. However, the band was never as angry as Black Flag, never as self-consciously poetic and dark as Christian Death, never as reverential of rock’s past as X, never as mainstream-cartoonish as the Dickies, never as political as Circle Jerks or Bad Religion…they were a hard band to peg, even though their horror movie imagery was eminently marketable. The closest thing I can come to as a comparison would be an American-born version of Alien Sex Fiend minus the electronica influences.
Their first recorded song was a cover of Don Hinson & the Rigamorticians’ Halloween novelty song, “Riboflavin-Flavored, Non-Carbonated, Polyunsaturated Blood” (which, if you think about it, was basically ripped off for a key part of the foundation of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels and thusly the HBO series True Blood):
Their first single was the blazing “Black Cross,” which originally featured the Germs’ (and Nirvana’s, and the Foo Fighters’) Pat Smear on guitar. This is a later performance from L.A.’s New Wave Theater:
Their first (and until this year, only) full-length studio album, Sleep in Safety, was released in 1983. While a number of compilations and live albums followed (most notably 1987’s Autopsy, which featured new songs, re-recordings of older songs and tracks from singles/EPs), this was their flag-planting moment in the music scene. Interestingly, the album was produced and engineered by legendary metal producer/mixer Michael Wagener (Accept, Dokken, Metallica, Megadeth, Overkill, W.A.S.P., etc.). Among the best-remembered tracks are “Evil”…
…and one of the songs they’re best known for, “Partytime.” This song exists in at least 4 different versions. This is the single version of the track. If all you know is the Return of the Living Dead soundtrack version, this may come as a shock. Instead of lyrics about rampaging zombies, the original lyrics are (in the vein of Alice Cooper’s “Dead Babies”) a sardonic tale of child abuse.
…And, if you made it this far, here’s the song you probably know by them. The “Zombie Version” of the above track from the Return of the Living Dead soundtrack: