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New Max’s Kansas City Reissue to Be Expanded With Rare Tracks

Jungle Records
Jungle Records

On May 5, Jungle Records will release Max’s Kansas City 1976 & Beyond, a double-disc, 40-track compilation that’s four times bigger than the original 1976 release.

In the mid-’70s, Max’s Kansas City and CBGB were the two main spots for New York City’s punk rock scene. Max’s had an earlier life as a hip, Andy Warhol-associated club. Closing in 1974, it reopened the next year, and new music director Peter Crowley convinced the club owners to do a compilation album to promote Max’s. Max’s Kansas City 1976 was the first vinyl document of the city’s punk scene to get wide release, beating its rival Live at CBGB’s into record stores.

That first Max’s album contained only 10 tracks (a later CD version upped the number to 14). While it didn’t feature New York City’s biggest punk stars (neither did the CBGB’s album), it did boast contributions from major bands in the scene, including Suicide, Pere Ubu and Wayne County (who was behind the anthemic “Max’s Kansas City 1976″).

The new Max’s edition offers a much broader and more complete look at what was happening at the club. The New York Dolls now are represented (with an alternative version of “Bad Girls”). Some additions, like the Fast, Cherry Vanilla and the John Collins Band, are familiar to fans of this era, while others (the Cellmates, Von LMO and the Knots, for instance) never really made it out of the New York scene. Unfortunately, Pere Ubu are absent due to licensing matters.

The amended LP title, 1976 & Beyond, refers to the inclusion of post-1976 material by Max’s-related artists. The real gems are a selection of some rare live tracks, even if most weren’t actually recorded at Max’s. There’s Iggy Pop, circa 1977, performing “Rock Action,” and Nico singing “Saeta” in 1983. Johnny Thunder is represented with a never-before-released 1979 live version of “M.I.A.” with the Heartbreakers at Max’s, as well as his cover of “These Boots Are Made for Walking” with Gang War (his short-lived group with MC5’s Wayne Kramer) in 1983.

The compilation wraps up with Sid Vicious performing “Take a Chance” at Max’s in 1978. The song, with Vicious fronting a band featuring Mick Jones, Jerry Nolan and Arthur Kane, appeared in the Sad Vacation documentary but hasn’t been released on record before.

Also worth noting are the CD’s excellent liner notes. There are track-by-track breakdowns and an introductory essay penned by Jimi LaLumia, whose group the Psychotic Frogs were Max’s regulars (their “Death to Disco” is on this compilation). Max’s booker, Peter Crowley, contributes his commentary on most songs, too, along with a short, retrospective essay.

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