Thursday, April 8, 2010

45 Revolutions: Really Red

Really Red was one of Houston's first punk bands in the late '70s, along with others like Legionaire's Disease, Plastic Idols, and The Hates. The band's roots can be traced as far back as the '60s when Ronnie and Kelly had a high school band called The Lords, who played original songs. A few years later they met up with John Paul and established themselves as shit-disturbers in the oppressive pre-punk days of the early-to-mid-'70s. As a band, they had existed for years under various names, doing mainly covers, until they were stunned by their first Legionaire's Disease gig. They evolved into Houston's most prominent punk band of that era. Their sound developed into something unique and distinctive, while never straying too far from it's loud, fast, aggressive roots.

Back in those days punk only had one rule, and that was "make your own rules." The formulas and cliches that have been plagueing punk for years now at that time had yet to taint it's original vision, and the ground was fertile for new sounds, new attitudes, and new ideas. Really Red delivered in spades on all three of those angles. As a band they built on the new sounds. They brought all kinds of influences to bear on the example from England. Just like Austin's Big Boys and The Dicks, they made something specifically Texan out of punk-rock. Their left-wing politics embraced their lone star legacy and the result was inventive, multi-faceted, and powerful. They left behind memories of countless awesome, passionate, high-energy shows, and a legacy of classic recordings.

Along with a few other groundbreaking local bands, they helped kick-start the early punk scene in Houston and spread their message further by taking to the road and playing with other such pioneering acts as D.O.A., The Dicks, Circle Jerks, 999, Articles of Faith, Negative Approach, MDC, the Bad Brains, The Effigies, The Big Boys and The Dead Kennedys among many others.

In Houston, they helped make the local scene explode and created a sense of community like no other local band has done previously or since. Along with their "paying gigs," they were always available to do benefit shows for causes as diverse as The Nuclear Freeze Campaign, The Vancouver 5 or even for a vet bill for an injured dog. They worked as hard as they played, and they thrived on the D.I.Y. ethic, starting their own C.I.A. label. As well as fronting Really Red, lead singer U-Ron, as Perry Coma, hosted the original "Funhouse" radio show on Pacifica's KPFT, cracking open many a young suburban Houston mind to punk and other new underground music. Their contributions to the early Houston and Texas underground scene cannot be overstated yet due to historical inaccuracies Really Red's contributions and influence has been often neglected and overlooked. This could be called an almost criminal ommission considering the band's impact while active.

Really Red broke up in 1985 after releasing two albums, two singles, two EPs, and tracks on various compilations (most famously Let Them Eat Jellybeans). Their classic '81 LP Teaching You The Fear was re-issued on CD via Empty Records (now out-of-print), while their original vinyl output remains as rare as hen's teeth.

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