Pure Hell were an early punk band, operating out of Philiadelphia from 1974-78, occasionally making the short drive over to New York City to mix it up with the scene over at CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City. They released only one single, a 1978 cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking”, but recorded an album which was shelved by manager Curtis Knight (an R&B singer best known for working with a pre-fame Jimi Hendrix) after he had a disagreement with the band. Decades later we have that album coupled with a DVD of a television performance, and while the band’s backstory is fascinating (an undiscovered all black East Coast punk band with roots in proto-punk has me thinking of Detroit proto-punkers Death and screaming “take my money now!”) the music is not. Make no mistake, these were cartoon punks with a standard issue “punk” image, pedaling cheap nastiness. I mean, just look at these clowns:
I’d forgive the schlocky image if their songs were any good, but they ain’t. If I wanted to be charitable I’d say Pure Hell sounded like a poor man’s Dead Boys, which is true on the surface. But, The Dead Boys could write songs. Pure Hell couldn’t, so instead they went for shock and outrage, as if they saw the media coverage of The Sex Pistols and decided they could get over with that. Dumb, oh-so-“punk” slogans masquerading as song titles like “Noise Addiction,” “No Rules,” and “Rot In The Doghouse,” give you an idea of what the band was about. It gets worse: The guitarist plays too much, the singer is cheesy, and the rhythm section is stiff. In summation, dear readers, this stinks.