The Gears – Rockin’ at Ground Zero
Classic L.A. punk album is bakc, with much more!
Included here is the complete 1980 'Rockin' At Ground Zero' LP with the first single and with five 1979 demo recordings added, that have never been released.
23 re-mastered tunes and it comes with a poster.
1. Baby Runaround - 2:41 2. Let's Go To The Beach - 2:28 3. Don't Be Afraid To Pogo - 1:25 4. Elks Lodge Blues - 2:06 5. Teenage Brain - 2:03 6. Wasting Time - 2:40 7. Darlin' Baby - 3:40 8. Trudie Trudie - 1:53 9. High School Girls - 1:38 10. The Last Chord - 2:09 11. Heartbeat Baby - 1:34 12. Rockin' At Ground Zero - 1:44 13. I Smoke Dope - 1:30 14. Keep Movin' - 2:10 15. Last Chance - 2:56 16. Let's Go To The Beach (original 45) - 2:27 17. Hard Rock (original 45) - 1:42 18. Don't Be Afraid To Pogo (original 45) - 1:34 19. Girl Crazy (1979 demo) - 2:00 20. High School Girls (1979 demo) - 1:38 21. Darlin’ Baby (1979 demo) - 3:37 22. Heartbeat Baby (1979 demo) - 1:25 23. Rockin’ At Ground Zero (1979 demo) - 1:44
Axxel G. Reese (vocals) , Kidd Spike (guitar on 1-15,19-23) , Crazy Ruben (guitar on 16-18) , Brian Redz (bass on 1-15,19-23) , Gabriel Shock (bass on 16-18) , Dave Drive (drums) , Tito Larriva (backing vocals on 14)
Tracks 1 to 16 recorded April 22, 1980
1. AllMusic - Mark Deming
Kidd Spike was a guitarist with one of L.A.'s first punk rock outfits, the Controllers, but by 1980 he was eager to do something a little more eclectic, and he joined forces with vocalist Axxel G. Reese to form the Gears. The Gears enthusiastically embraced the fast and loud part of punk, but they also threw in dashes of surf music, garage rock, blues, and cool sounds of the '50s, and their first album, Rockin' at Ground Zero, is a killer blend of punk speed and fury tempered with greaser cool. Reese is a solid vocalist with plenty of swagger in his voice but no wasted affectations, while Spike's thick, gutsy guitar work and the crash-boom-bang rhythm work of bassist Brian Redz and drummer Dave Drive keep these songs in forward momentum at all times. The Gears could sing about cars, girls, and good times with tongue just slightly in cheek on tunes like "Let's Go to the Beach" and "Darlin' Baby," but "High School Girls" and "I Smoke Dope" show they weren't afraid of more dangerous pleasures. "Don't Be Afraid to Pogo" is a great (and only slightly ridiculous) punk anthem, and they chronicle one of the most infamous real-life moments in the war between L.A. punks and cops in "Elks Lodge Blues." "Teenage Brain" is angst at its most enjoyable, and "The Last Chord" and the title cut both manage to make the end of the world sound cool. Rockin' at Ground Zero is good, raucous fun from an unjustly overlooked band; the rise of hardcore made bands like this seem obsolete at the dawn of the '80s, but history and this album prove these guys truly had the goods.
Initially I had reservations about even spinning my review copy of Rockin’ at Ground Zero. While I wasn’t familiar with The Gears, I do know enough about the L.A. punk scene of the late 70s and early 80s. And that era of punk doesn’t really do much for me. The L.A. variant seemed musically angrier and less melodic than stuff coming out of other locales (like NYC). Speed was king, and finesse mattered less. Eventually I popped the disc in, and was pleasantly surprised.
The first thing that struck me was the immediacy of the songs. The dry, almost effects-free production aesthetic presents The Gears in a manner that (I imagine) isn’t too far removed from their live set. Of course the needles aren’t all in the red, and the balance and mix are as they should be. But the energy’s all here.
“Baby Runaround” kicks off sound a bit like a slowed-down Ramones, but there’s — believe it or not — a subtlety to the playing. “Let’s Go to the Beach” updates surf music for the era, while providing a catchier take on that genre than, say, the Surf Punks. “Elks Lodge Blues” marries blues and punk in an effective method, turning in a performance that has as much in common with the tracks on Rhino’s Loud, Fast and Out of Control (an essential box set compilation of 50’s rock) as it does with, say, the Sex Pistols. Axxel G. Reese’s yelps are particularly effective, and the playing tighter than one might have a right to expect from L.A. punk scenesters.
Overall, the songs on Rockin’ at Ground Zero traffic in teenage rebellion and fun-at-the-beach themes rather than nihilistic, atavistic hardcore messages. And musically, the Gears manage the feat of providing variety while working solidly within the punk genre (something the Ramones decidedly did not do that same year: they recorded End of the Century with Phil Spector at the boards). The Gears weren’t adherents of the faster-is-better aesthetic so prevalent in L.A., and that’s ultimately to their credit. These tracks hold up well nearly thirty years later, and don’t really sound dated at all.
Well, except “Darlin’ Baby.” The song starts as a 50s throwback tune and then (ahem) shifts gears for the chorus into a pogo-worthy rocker. The presence of such dynamics throughout Rockin’ at Ground Zeromakes listening to the album a rewarding experience; unlike some records of the era, the shifts in tone, style and delivery keep the listener on their toes, and sidestep the numbing attack of lesser punk acts. One guesses the Gears were an incendiary live act; hearing these songs, it’s impossible not to imagine a club full of pogoers. The Gears seemed to understand what was valuable about early rock and roll, and incorporated that into their then-modern songs. The spirits of Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent…and Sid Vicious are breathed back to life on Rockin’ at Ground Zero.
Bonus tracks include the original 45s of “Let’s Go to the Beach” and “Don’t Be Afraid to Pogo.” Both versions are (naturally) rawer than their album counterparts, in both performance and production. Five demos from 1979 (in surprisingly good fidelity) show that the Gears’ approach was pretty fully developed before they entered the studio. The exception is “Heartbeat Baby”, which underwent a radical reinvention that improved the song exponentially. In the end, most the self-produced demos don’t sound that different from the polished versions. And that’s to the credit of Rockin’ at Ground Zero producer Gary Hirstius and all involved in that album.