COMPLETE RECORDINGS, 1976-79
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The Testors were scuzzy club bottom-feeders, incorrigible sewer-dwelling outsiders, and—possibly—New York's perfect punk band: too busy to waste time clambering into the history books, too dedicated to bother looking for a label when they could record almost two LPs' worth of material themselves, and too ferociously talented for anyone then or now to understand. Some of these songs have never been heard before at all; others dribbled out on tough-to-find Euro imports, and almost all of them add up to the best first-wave New York punk band that never made it. Singer-guitarist Sonny Vincent tears past Richard Hell—even Tom Verlaine, maybe even Johnny Thunders—with songs almost too bitter and raw to be so well written. It's too rare for a real songwriter to fall into punk, for someone to fuse vision with viciousness, but Vincent is up there with the greats: the sad songs are everything Elvis Costello was supposed to be and the mean songs are so caustic, they'd melt paint (no wonder the Testors always looked so messy). Quite simply, the Testors got fucked—along with the Australian X, they're one of the rare "lost" bands who are worth the search, and this double CD is at least a minor classic. So what if it's 25 years late? Not one note sounds a second out of date—if this had come out of Detroit last month, you'd already own it. It's a crime against history that the Testors never got their due: a band like this could and should have changed everything.