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The Eat - It's Not the Eat, It's the Humidity

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Artist: The Eat

Album: It's Not the Eat, It's the Humidity

Label: Alternative Tentacles

Review date: Aug. 23, 2007

The Eat are literally the exact sort of band for which the Killed By Death comps were created. The bands debut single, “Communist Radio” b/w “Catholic Love,” was the stuff of dreams; boffo collector-scum scratch was to be had if one were lucky enough to own a copy. To even hear the thing, you needed either a few hundred dollars or Killed By Death Volume 2, and that didn’t even get you the b-side. Alternative Tentacles’ fairly massive two-disc collection, It’s Not the Eat, It’s the Humidity, rights a wrong by giving a proper re-release to not only that coveted pair of tracks, but 57 other ones, including an entire disc of live performances.

Is a single 7” (and “Communist Radio,” as a brief visit to eBay makes clear, is far from the only punk record to gain such mythical status) worth such a frenzy? I’d say that question is ultimately irrelevant, as it’s the nature of collecting to place seemingly undo importance on what, to others, is mere cultural ephemera. From the perspective of a music fan, however, one still can’t help but wonder if the damn thing is actually any good. The answer is yes. The Eat’s brief existence yielded a handful of 7”s, an LP, and an EP, all of which contained excellent power-pop infused punk. Not as aggressive as many punk and hardcore bands emerging at the time, the Eat’s version of the post-Class of ’77 style has a very pronounced skinny-tie vibe that gilds their sound with an undeniable pop sweetness, actually giving an added resonance to the requisite young, loud and snotty attitude. This is the sound of popping pimples, too much TV and too many Cokes; banana boards and sleeping in late when it’s morning in America. “Communist Radio” and “Catholic Love,” both recorded live, are perhaps the band’s definitive statements, yet It’s Not the Eat, It’s the Humidity offers considerable proof of the band’s skills as songwriters. “Jimmie B. Goode,” “Nut Cop,” and “Kneecappin’” are raw, brisk blasts of vintage American punk rock, while “M80 Ant Death” and “Psychotic McHale’s Navy” hint at non-Ramone’s influences and the possibility of what could have been a lengthy career.

The live tracks, the majority of which are culled from shows between 1980 and ’82, aren’t terribly different than the studio tracks. Though they do rip with a primal energy (see “Sub-Human” and a cover of “We’re An American Band” from the 1982 set at Finder’s Lounge) that sets the imagination running over what it must have felt like to be at ground zero of the original American DIY movement – in the less-than progressive environs of suburban South Florida no less. Sandwiched in the middle of the ’80s live sets are four tracks from a reunion show in 1996. Remarkably, that set is nearly as smart and enjoyably crude as the vintage material.

There are an abundance of talented punk bands – then and now – relegated to the proverbial dustbin with only a handful of records to remind listeners of both their vitality and the continued vitality of the punk spirit; it can be tough for even the most faithful listener to pick and choose which ones get attention. The scarcity of a given release, of course, can make the decision that much easier. I knew one Eat song (thanks again to Killed By Death) prior to this comp and I wasn’t about to go on a desperate search, let alone drop hundreds of dollars, to hear a few more. It’s Not the Eat, It’s the Humidity alters the stakes, though, plucking the band from relative obscurity and reintroducing them as something as viable as any number of bands that either knowingly or unknowingly followed in their wake.

By Nate Knaebel

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