Byron Coley, March '98

FOREIGN OBJECTS "Not Too Cool" CD (dino records)

The Foreign Objects were far from the most popular local band of their era (1979-1981). Theirs were the days when Hamp tubbies were still grumbling about the demise of Fat, Clean Living, and the Valley's other connections to the duppier sounds of the early '70s. The popular sonic style at Rahar's was new wave, whether coughed up by the blubby electronics of the Scientific Americans or the dullard pop of the Elevators. The Foreign Objects were a band apart from both these camps.

Their heritage was that of the garage - from '60s thugs such as the Sonics, through to the pre-punk teen damage of the Dictators, right on into the junk culture mania of the Gizmos and the simple-spoken truths of the Ramones. The Foreign Objects were of a piece with this tradition. Their riffs were plain, proud and true. Their lyrics blended paeans of '60s TV shows like "Combat" with defenses of professional wrestling and jokes about psychotronic films. In the late '70s, before the detritus of pop culture started to recycle itself endlessly (via cable TV, CD reissues, and even a Hollywood movie about Ed Wood for chrissakes!), it was possible to do this sorta stuff straight. It wasn't necessary for the Foreign Objects to resort to the ironic distance that would envelop a similar band these days.

The Foreign Objects were just playing the kinda music they dug and braying lyrics about stuff that was considered to be beneath contempt by many of their contemporaries. Because their motives were pure, the newly issued CD of their damn-near-entire-works, Not Too Cool, shows that their efforts have not been compromised by time. It's tough to temporally place the material on this disk, just as it is for work by the Modern Lovers or Half Japanese. This shit could've been recorded almost anywhere, at any time over the last coupla decades. Its beautiful stupidity and basic thump have a primitive modernity that has never really been part of any identifiably hip stream. This lends the album an aesthetic weight that its creators probably never imagined as they recorded the 24 great songs on this CD. But there ya go. Not Too Cool is a classic. Enjoy it often. Enjoy it today.

The Foreign Objects, 1979 - The Rusty Nail
Howard W. Campbell Jr., Noodles Romanov, Steve Kirby, Bill Perks

Piledriver Magazine, July'98

Foreign Objects - Not Too Cool

Wrestling fans and rock 'n' roll music in '98?
I dunno. I think the one you're probably all hanging out for is the one with all the current WWF intro themes on it, so you can do the Degeneration X dance in the privacy of your own trousers, and howl "Oh, you didn't KNOW?!!" over the New Age Outlaws theme to your B-A-D-A-Double-Crooked-Letter content. Or maybe that's ME, come to think about it. Put it this way, we've all come a fair philosophical distance from "Grab Them Cakes" and "Don't Go Messin' With A Country Boy". But hopefully not so far we can't enjoy this rock 'n' wrassling artyfact from the Foreign Objects. Before you drown me in an ocean of "Who??!!", I be telling yez. The Foreign Objects were an old, old school punk band from the American North East, heavily influenced by, if not a little contemporary with, the twin inventors of mid-70s punk, the Dictators and the Ramones, and furtive punk influence and the Dory Funk Jrs of hard rock in their day, the Blue Oyster Cult.

Since the FO's never had a hit, never influenced doodley-squat, and even I only vaguely knew of them and I'm actually interested in this stuff, you might figure, what the truck, but I'm here to tell you you'd be wrong. Everything about this disc is high-larifying, from the front cover shot of the band which richly lives up to the album title, to their lovable obsession with the WWF of 20 years ago, to the cheerful whoops 'n' clatter of their knucklehead punk rock music, to the overexcited road company Blue Oyster Cult lead guitar, to the fact that they really only existed as any sort of ongoing band for three years (1979-81), and the recordings here are stretched over 15 (1979-93).

And the songs? Damn funny, kemosabe. Remembering that when these guys were around in '79-'81, Political Correctness meant coloring in your ballot paper inside the lines, will aid your righteous enjoyment of such sparkling balladry as "Wrestling is Real", "Lose Some Weight", "Recycled Jizz", "Retired Deviant", and the showstopper "(Why Don't You) Speak English". I also found myself deeply moved by their thoughful advice to 'hippie bums' and 'left wing scum' to "Buy a Car"; and surely no true (and old) wrestling fan could fail to be spiritually elevated by such tunes as "I Hate Strongbow" (ie Chief Jay, not the cider of the same surname), and "Who Will Dispute the Genius of Lou Albano?"

If you're one of six or seven people left un-Mariah Careyed on the planet who actually still enjoy rock 'n' roll, you will gain additional succour from probably the single funniest two song tag team I've ever heard, as they blithely stampede from a live version of the Sonic's all-time 60s rocker "Strychnine" into Herman's Hermits all time classic pink icing dribble "There's a Kind of Hush", without changing gears, tempo, or underwear. If you ever loved a Dictator's record, you pretty much have to have this one; and that's another 27 copies sold worldwide right there.

I'll leave the final, decisive word in this arresting debate to the almost entirely unserious liner notes, and lead honker and songmaker-upper Bill Perks, from his explanation of the song "Wrestling is Real": "It's certainly more real than tennis and fake college sports. Some of wrestling might look partially fake but if you watch it closely enough you can see it is real." Science has now proven Bill's words to be true. however, if you can watch a Mongo McMichael match closely enough to see that it's real, you should probably quit your day job and consider personally replacing the Hubble telescope.

(Incidentally for you old-time music Rolling Stones fans are freaking out in your Zimmer frames because you think you recognise Bill's name from the credits on "Exile on Main Street", I don't know whether "Bill Perks" is this guy's real name, but I am fairly sure it was Bill Wyman's, so you might want to just chalk that one up to coincidence).

The Foreign Objects, 1979 - Umass Amherst Hatch
Howard W. Campbell Jr., Noodles Romanov, Steve Kirby, Bill Perks, Jean Paul Lemay

Boston Phoenix, Sep 12, 1997

Foreign Objects.

One of my favorite college-music flashbacks concerns a Mt. Holyoke mixer in 1979. Bands on this circuit usually did Earth Wind & Fire and Steely Dan covers, perhaps with "Still the One" by Orleans as an encore. But this time someone unwittingly booked a band called the Furor, whose songs were largely about World War II or pro wrestling - unless they were Ramones covers. By the time the Furor finally eased off, the audience was ready to accept any excuse for a slow dance. So I got to enjoy the sight of a roomful of football players and debutantes holding each other close to a song called "I Eat Guts".

The Furor mutated into the Foreign Objects, who took the wrestling fixation to new extremes; nearly every song they did was on that subject.They were also the best punk band in western Massachusetts, though competition in those pre Dinosaur Jr. days wasn't exactly fierce. Now their legacy lives on in "Not Too Cool", a CD released this week on dino (no relation to J Mascis - it's a new Northampton label devoted to garage/punk reissues); and the disc is enough fun to prove that bad taste is timeless. The Foreign Objects had everything a band needed: a nasty sense of humor, a flair for hookified punk tunes, good TV reception, and too much time on their hands. Not to mention a garage-sale sense of musical history capable of covering Johnny Cash and Herman's Hermits back to back (both from a '93 reunion set).

With 72 minutes of everything the band ever recorded (though, alas, "I Eat Guts" was never immortalized), the CD finds leader Bill Perks waxing poetic about neighborhood perverts, TV reruns, and, of course, pro wrestling. You'd be hard pressed to find a more fervent anthem than "Who will Dispute the Genius of Lou Albano". Or a direct piece of advice than "Lose Some Weight" (There's no reason, there's no excuse, you're too obese, you're too obtuse). Other tunes ("Television Wizard", "Change My Shirt", "Collect Checks") celebrate the band's chosen lifestyle. These guys had the foresight to be slackers back when slackers were still called unemployed dudes.

The Foreign Objects, 1987 - Loasis
The Reverend Doctor Shame and Bill Perks

Bad Trip #11, 1997 

Foreign Objects - "Not Too Cool' (dino records)

These guys came out in '79, and when you see the picture of the band on the cover, you'll think "pass". But hey, how cool did you look in '79??? I looked like a geek in '79 too, so don't feel bad. Like everybody else back then, these guys looked pretty funny, but they were truly retarded! Songs on here are musically in The Dictators or N.Y Dolls vein, but the lyrics!!! Songs about how bad TV sucks ("Not Too Cool', "Television Wizard"), Pro Wrestling ("Who Will Dispute The Genius Of Lou Albano', "Wrestling Is Real'), Plan 9 ('Plan Nine'), and the clincher, the "Combat" TV series ("Sgt. Saunders"), show that these guys were OUT THERE!!! And in '79, that was equivalent to being into Rockabilly, Surf, or Garage Punk today. Live covers of "Strychnine", "There's A Kind Of Hush", "I Got Stripes", and "Hey Little Girl" prove that these guys had their heads and minds in the right place! And with lyrical content running the gamut from harassing hitchhiking hippies to a tune about a guy who sniffs bicycle seats, you'll be left wondering howz come the world ignores theses geniuses, while drooling over the idiots.... And they did all this in the late '70's! File this under crazy, cynical, crass, and clever as hell! Who will dispute the genius of Foreign Objects?!?!?!

Rocktober, Halloween 1997

Foreign Objects "Not Too Cool" (dino)

Sure they looked like Cabana burnouts, sure they sung mostly about wrestling, sure they only play every ten years or so, but this is still one of the all time punkest bands, despite the long hair, sunglasses, and Hawaiian shirts. Wrestle a few bucks out of your wallet, get your claw on this CD, and pin it to your mat, and you'll have a hold on a champ! Sorry, I've been drinking....

The Foreign Objects, 1979 - Rahars
Noodles Romanov, Jean Paul Lemay, Steve Kirby, and Bill Perks

BANG! Magazine, 1985

Foreign Objects -- Into the Squared Circle

Anyone remember the Foreign Objects? They were Amherst's most original band, something like western Mass' version of GG Allin. They're a band that mixed their politics ("Speak English", "Nixon Now More Than Ever") with surf & 60's musical inspiration. Guitar/vocalist Bill Perks cynically sneers through his lyrics, confidently backed up by his fellow Objects, who sound like the Ventures after taking nasty pills. World at War on side, er, I mean Bout one, was the title of their 4 song 7" EP - 1980. The rest of the album deals with wrestling, Miami riots, and weight loss. All songs by Perks, except "Plan Nine", a ditty about child abuse, not the band, by keyboardist Howard W Campbell Jr. The Foreign Objects don't gig out too often any more, which is all the more reason to get this slab of vinyl, and hear for yourself "The genius of Perks", as Peppy Lester once wrote.

Bill Perks, 1979

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