By Ron HartJuly 18, 2012
New York City might have had Debbie Harry as its reigning queen of platinum blonde punk during the height of its ’77 heyday. But Los Angeles had Penelope Houston, the bold, brazen front-woman of San Francisco’s The Avengers, a band whose gritty streetwise snarl and ravenous energy packed as much of a punch as the Marvel Comics super group with whom they shared their name.
Their power was evidenced in the way they wiped the stage with the Sex Pistols during their mythical opening stint for the Brit brats’ final concert at the Winterland in ’78, which in turn inspired Pistols guitarist Steve Jones to approach them about production opportunities, transpired on the eve of the Avengers’ own untimely split in 1979 in the form of their eponymous 12” EP for White Noise Records. Two of those four songs, namely their anti-establishment anthem “The Amerikan In Me” and the controversial “White Nigger”, along with their debut 7-inch “We Are The One” from 1977 for Dangerhouse provided the meat of the band’s sole full-length, dubbed The Pink Album
by the group’s elite fan base, which was released posthumously in 1983. This un-concentrated masterpiece of vintage California punk has undergone multiple re-releases in the near-30 years since the original CD Presents vinyl edition hit store shelves, including a short stint where Houston herself was selling CD-R copies from her home.
But this latest version of The Pink Album
from Water Music is without question the most definitive to date. Expanded to the gills as a two-disc anthology complete with highly educational liner notes from veteran rock critic Greil Marcus, everything you ever wanted or needed to complete your Avengers collection is all right here. The entirety of their studio works is present and accounted for, including the entirety of their self-titled EP as well as outtakes from the Steve Jones sessions and their two-track single for their scorching cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black”. But it is the second disc where the real treasure is hidden, including rehearsals from their first recording session at Iguana Studio, live cuts from such fabled CA punk venues as The Old Waldorf and Mabuhay Gardens and three numbers culled from that legend-killing Sex Pistols opening set at Winterland Ballroom on January 14, 1978.
If you fancy yourself as some kind of punk rocker and have yet to experience the might of The Avengers, copping this essential set is a must.