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June 14, 2024

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Stiv Bators
L.A. Confidential (Bomp Records)

By: Vinnie Apicella

The name Stiv Bators is legendary in Punk circles -- amazing when you think of how short-lived his original outfit, the Dead Boys, was back in the day or the fact his solo career wasn't exactly littered with gold records and glamour. The "day" of the Dead Boys lasted maybe two years, but their breakthrough contributions at the forefront of the NYC Punk scene in the late '70s cannot be denied.

Bators was as famous for his onstage antics as his offstage pranks - as we discover from reading the thoughtfully penned and thorough cover booklet accompaniment to "L.A. Confidential," Bomp's latest entry into the untold and still unfolding story of the freakish frontman, forever the child star that never was.

This collection is the result of several previously recorded sporadically released singles during his days with Bomp, circa 1980 -- 87, as well as some unreleased sessions, demos, and alternate mixes that first awoke in the 1994 release, "L.A. L.A." "Confidential" takes the best from the first and lathers it with plenty more unexpected moments and unprovoked spontaneity.

For anyone familiar with Bators' post-Dead Boys material, he headed for a more commercial direction, dare we say Pop, yet nothing like typically Top 40 in its time. Rather, Bators returned to the "roots" of the matter chugging back a decade and a half and exploring the unheralded Garage Punk styles of the '60s with a classic Rock edge. The first result was the acclaimed "Disconnected" record in 1980, while the rest was made up of what we find on the "L.A." records.

Patched together and preceded by a number of visits by the likes of The Damned's Brian James, former and later Dead Boys member David Quinton, Kim Fowler and Sham 69's Jimmy Pursey, not to mention a number of "assorted freaks" who crashed a studio session and created an impromptu version of "Louie Louie" full with plenty of implausible drunkenness.

It wasn't until Bators broke out on his own that we learned he could also croon, similar to an Elvis Costello or even Tom Petty, not to mention a respectable likeness of one Jim Morrison during one of his left of center live stretches. Tracks like "It's Cold Outside," "Not That Way Anymore," "The Last Year," and "Have Love Will Travel" explore the softer, gentler persona of the man known for strangling himself onstage and various assorted phallic tantrums.

Of the 18 tracks total the last eight are alternate mixes of previously released material and rare demos that inadvertently adhere to the strict qualifications of pure noise in its all its unsaturated indecipherable glory-- particularly pleasing on the old James' tune, "Neat Neat Neat" which Stiv supposedly didn't study the lyrics-- not that you'd know it from hearing it.

The excellent liner note recollections smattered across the 24 pages come from people there from the beginning like Frank Secich, Quinton, and the recently departed founder of Bomp, Greg Shaw, all of whom put a respectable and real personal spin on Bators' life in and out of the studio-- the supermodel as the case may be.

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