The Gun Club “Live In London 1983” (2020 Record Store Day LP)

For Record Store Day 2020, a live LP was released from The Gun Club, the long-defunct American punk rock band which was led by the late, enigmatic Jeffrey Lee Pierce. Live In London 1983 was limited to 1,700 copies, and was released on September 26, 2020, the second of three RSD “drop dates” brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Live In London 1983 was recorded at the Lyceum at a particularly odd time in the Gun Club’s history. This show was performed by an almost entirely different lineup than the one which had previously played on the band’s first two studio albums, which are regarded as being among the first recordings to incorporate blues and country elements into punk rock. Along with singer/guitarist Pierce – who was the only constant member – this lineup included bassist Patricia Morrison (later of The Damned and Sisters Of Mercy), guitarist Jim Duckworth (from Tav Falco’s Panther Burns), and drummer Dee Pop (from Bush Tetras). This is almost the same lineup (excluding Morrison) who recorded the 1983 Death Party EP, and is the exact same lineup shown on the 1983 half of the 2006 U.K. DVD titled Live At The Hacienda 1983/84.

The Lyceum concert has been frequently bootlegged, and it sounds as though the “original tapes” that the album was digitally remastered from were of that quality. The resulting sound quality of the LP is the aural equivalent of the other end of a telescope, seeming both clear and distant at the same time. It’s a shame the sound couldn’t come through stronger, because this short-lived Gun Club lineup is shown to have been an effectively ferocious vehicle for Pierce’s punk-blues psychoses. Although the muffled sound dilutes the punch, the fiery chaos of the performances is still viscerally exciting, especially on such frenetic numbers as “Death Party”, “John Hardy”, Boyd Atkins’ “Heebie Jeebies”, and the nearly unrecognizable cover of CCR’s “Run Through The Jungle”. This punk rock history moment will be worthwhile for the same type of Gun Club fans who once sought out the bootleg of the same show.

One month before the release of this LP, on the earlier August 29th RSD “drop date” of 2020, a 7-inch single was released with two Gun Club live tracks recorded several years later with an entirely different lineup backing Pierce. This lineup included original co-founder Kid Congo Powers, bassist Romi Mori, and two different drummers (the first of whom was the late Nick Sanderson). This single was limited to 300 copies, 100 of which were pressed in red vinyl, 100 in orange, and 100 in lime green. The A-side features a 1990 performance of “Eternally Is Here” (from The Las Vegas Story album from 1984), which presents Pierce as a more controlled performer than he was at the time of Live in London 1983. The punkabilly instrumentation from this version of the band is pretty darn good. The B-side features a 1991 cover of the Sonics’ “Psycho”, purportedly one of the few times – if not the only time – the Gun Club ever performed that song live. It may as well be immortalized on vinyl – if such a limited-edition RSD single does in fact immortalize anything. The Sonics’ original 1965 recording was about as proto-punk as the mid-‘60’s got. Pierce and company perform it with enthusiasm, although Pierce still sounded less uninhibited in 1991 than he did in 1983. Sadly, Pierce died in 1996 from a brain hemorrhage at the age of 37, bringing the Gun Club to its final, tragic end.

The Gun Club “Live In London 1983” (Blixa Sounds ETA 855) 2020

Track Listing:

1. Opening Space
2. Fire Of Love
3. Run Through The Jungle
4. John Hardy
5. The Lie
6. Black Train
7. Cool Drink Of Water
8. Fire Spirit
9. Death Party
10. Sex Beat
11. Goodbye Johnny
12. House On Highland Avenue
13. Texas Serenade
14. Heebie Jeebies

Gun Club “Gun Club: Live” (single) (In The Red 2.13.61) 2020

Track Listing:

A. Eternally Is Here – Munich, Germany, November 6, 1990
B. Psycho (Sonics) – Ljubljana, Slovenia, June 1, 1991