It's almost too obvious to declare this new Cadillac Tramps live disc—recorded during their Galaxy Concert Theatre reunion show last April and in stores Tuesday—their best ever; not to undermine the fine catalog of studio albums they cut for Dr. Dream back in the late '80s and early '90s or anything, but the Tramps' real strength was always in their sweat-sopped, superbly transcendent gigs. That's when they were at their incendiary peak, and on the night this was taped, they reminded an enraptured home-county crowd how great they once had been and how vital and important they still can be. Most, if not all, of the highlights have been preserved, particularly the blazing, shoulda-been-coulda-been hits "Shake," "Train to Fame," "Don't Ya Know," "Should I," "Alright" and "Hate," anchored as always by Brian Coakley's monster Gibson riffing and Mike "Gabby" Gaborno's good-time yowling and wuffa-guffa between-song raps. Steve "Spanky" Barrios, Warren Renfro and Mike "Maddog" Combs also keep things gloriously cranked, which helped make that night feel as if the Tramps hadn't missed about four years onstage. Live!, then, is ultimately a terrific souvenir for those of us who were there, a slice of pure, from-the-gut rock & roll, with just a faint aroma of danger stirred in—call it punked-up roots tuneage gone psycho-zombified. If you weren't there, they're doing shows again, and it won't take more than a couple of spins of this before the music is practically screaming at you to pop for a ticket. For the Tramps always have been—and always will be—thatpersuasive. (Rich Kane)
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The Cadillac Tramps play a release party for Live! at the Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (714) 647-7704 or (909) 629-0377. March 4, 7 p.m. $10-$12. All ages.
NOFX THE DECLINEFAT WRECK CHORDS
In a genre filled with mediocre clones of themselves, NOFX have consistently proved they're not only originators of the new-school punk-metal hybrid (melodic hooks, body-shaking time changes), but also innovators. With The Decline, they've raised the bar for all their copycats to marvel at: it consists of one 18-minute song filled with biting social commentary on the U.S. government. Eighteen minutes is long—especially for punk—but the band knows how to keep things entertaining, and all the background yells and snarls have you constantly trying to figure out what's being said. Although NOFX don't have much of a history of being political (unless you count "I Got Crabs"—just kidding!), they know how to pen a decent fuck-the-Man song; lyrics like "The curriculum's been set/Logic is a threat/Reason searched and seized" dare you to think for yourself in a society where doing so is often reason enough for official scrutiny. It's certainly more than you'll get from such bland and blas acts as Blink 182 and Home Grown. Musically, the album is a bit of a genre-bender, with lots of tempo and guitar-tone changes that stylistically cover everything from punk and indie to garage and hardcore. Yet it somehow remains an epic piece of power chords and pit-inciting energy. What more do you want from a punk album? (Sketch Dooley)
NOFX play the Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (714) 647-7704 or (909) 629-0377. Sat. with Youth Brigade and 20 Percent; Sun. with Dr. Know and GFI. 7:30 p.m. It's sold-out, so try the scalpers. All ages.