The Circle Jerks – Group Sex (1980)

AllMusic Review: Keith Morris once described his brief tenure as Black Flag’s lead singer by saying, “I was the Tasmanian devil, the court jester; I was the dog on the chain who was let out of the cage.” So it made sense that after the beer-swilling frontman decided to move on, he would form a band even less subtle and more obnoxious than Black Flag (who represented punk rock at its most brutal in 1979). Group Sex, the first “album” from Morris’ group the Circle Jerks, barrels through 14 songs in just under 16 minutes, and pretty much defined the state of the art in SoCal hardcore, circa 1980: raging minor-chord guitar bashing (courtesy of Greg Hetson, later in Bad Religion), speedy drumming (Lucky Lehrer punctuates his manic four-four stomp with short, frantic rolls whenever possible), and a bassist (Roger Rogerson) trying to keep up with it all while Morris bellows about sex (“I Just Want Some Skank”), drugs (“Wasted”), politics (“Paid Vacation”), the idle rich (“Beverly Hills”), and his own post-teenage rage (“World Up My Ass”). Some of it’s funny, some of it seems to be serious, and it’s all one not-so-long blast of raging energy. As such things go, it’s tight, reasonably well played, the songs kinda sorta have hooks, and Keith Morris is a pretty good frontman, but if you’re looking for nuance, you’re pretty much out of luck. Then again, if you were looking for nuance in a Circle Jerks album, you’ve obviously been misinformed as to how this punk rock stuff works. — Mark Deming

Track Listing:

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Deny Everything” Keith Morris, Roger Rogerson 0:26
2. “I Just Want Some Skank” Circle Jerks 1:09
3. “Beverly Hills” Morris, Rogerson 1:03
4. “Operation” Lucky Lehrer, Rogerson 1:28
5. “Back Against the Wall” Circle Jerks 1:32
6. “Wasted” Morris, Greg Ginn 0:41
7. “Behind the Door” Circle Jerks, Ginn 1:23
8. “World Up My Ass” Rogerson 1:14
9. “Paid Vacation” Circle Jerks 1:27
10. “Don’t Care” Morris, Ginn 0:35
11. “Live Fast Die Young” Morris, Greg Hetson 1:33
12. “What’s Your Problem” Morris, Rogerson 0:57
13. “Group Sex” Jeffrey Lee Pierce, Circle Jerks 1:02
14. “Red Tape” Morris, Hetson 0:56

 

 

Schill Score:  7/10

 

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