The Left: The Left
The Left: The Left
The cover art for the Left’s 1984 EP, It’s the World, was a crass drawing of the planet Earth capped with human excrement. At the equator, a punk with a blackjack loosens the teeth of a metalhead. Everyone is waist/waste deep in bottles and cans. It was claimed that retailers found this offensive, so another version was drawn for a second pressing. On the crass meter it was about the same, with drooling aliens driving a space hot rod past the planet, now on fire.
The Left furnished truth in packaging. The stark visual cues let it be known that this was garage punk for suffocating the annoying--presumably those in Hagerstown, where the band was formed. The blasting noise of the band--Jim Swope’s guitar through a Fender Twin set to crushing treble and singer Brian Sefsic chanting as charmlessly as Iggy on The Stooges--combined in a mix to scratch diamonds. You imagined them to be churls who meant exactly what they sang on "Fuck It," a tune about barflies. Photos included with this new collection, Jesus Loves the Left--a play on the old Jesus Loves the Stooges bootleg--indicate they were more tender-looking than originally thought. By the evidence, even a girl liked them.
In 1985, the Last Train to Hagerstown EP became the Left’s epitaph. The brutal lyrics of "The Viet Cong Live Next Door" and "AIDS Alley" made some peg the band as a group of bigots, but the Left was satirizing its town, which "Redneck 7-11" made clear. "We’ll stomp your heads," Sefsic sang, "because revenge tastes sweet." "You’re So," an excellent one-off for a retrospective sampler, turned "The Last Train to Clarksville" riff into rock to cathartically elbow someone in the mouth to. Chuck Eddy put both Left records in Stairway to Hell, his 1991 book chronicling the 500 best heavy-metal albums in the universe. Too late to do them any good, it added poetic futility to the tale.