How come so few folks know about The Freeze? Punk rock band, formed in Cape Cod, 1978? Come on, the lead singer called himself Cliff Hanger! (“Rob Decradle” played guitar!)
It’s a shame they’re so obscure, but on the other hand, it works to their advantage in these times of prefabricated rebellion. They made fantastic, inspired punk rock, and they came from Cape Cod! Of all places!
You wanna get hooked right away? Start with any early version of the following song, “Trouble If You Hide”. When was the last time you heard vocals like this?
Nothing labeled “punk rock” since 1992 has sounded that good. Not a damn thing. Billie Joe Armstrong wears makeup, like girls. That’s why Green Day never had lyrics this bad-ass:
I saw a girl get killed today
The cops came up but I had nothing to say
Now I need pills to sleep at night
Because dreams reenact that bloody sight
The TV says the killer’s free
And they’re blaming close-mouthed people like me
Please come forth with clues to confide
Cause there could be trouble, trouble if you hide, trouble if you hide
Trouble if you hide
He’s witness hunting with a loaded gun
Inside I know that I’m the one
A neighbor sees him strike me dead
He takes sleeping pills and goes to bed
The first line is “I saw a girl get killed today”! Like it’s an everyday occurrence! That’s fuckin’ dark, man!
The lunacy and violence that have subsumed the American Left this year reminded me of one of my favorite Freeze tunes, “We’re Not The Abnormal Ones”:
He gets that whole lyric out in one breath, numerous times. We’re not the abnormal ones: YOU ARE. YOU! YOU!
Good shit, right? From that Wikipedio-thing:
The band is known for their dark lyrics, original punk rock melodies, and their longevity. A lot of their early lyrics deal with alienation, drug-use/abuse and paranoia(especially of the government and especially of the Reagan-Bush years). A constant theme or thread regarding apathetic observers or people willing to give up their freedoms for fear of losing their “security” is also apparent in their work.
How about that- prescience! You can take that one home with you.
Cliff Hanger’s name is actually Clif Croce, and he’s the only band member to continue through all incarnations. This was a bunch of angry teens from Massachusetts, from the end of the Carter years. They understood what it really meant to be a ticking, human time bomb.
The bass player could be one of several dudes. Nevertheless, that’s a classic bass line, equal to the Dead Kennedys. Like “Trouble If You Hide”, “Time Bomb” exists in myriad versions, varying in tonal emphasis and quality. You can pick the one you like the most. My favorites are all on Double Dosed, a German compilation from 1992. It combines This Is Boston Not L.A. (1982) with recording sessions from 1988.
You want to see how dark punk can be? I mean really dark?
Here’s “Nothing Left”. If its lyrics were originally a suicide note, it wouldn’t surprise me at all.
Like Suicidal Tendencies, The Freeze sang about institutionalization. They were not to keen on organized religion, naturally (“Sacrifice Not Suicide”), and like most punkers, had their differences with the redneck set, as detailed on the stellar track “Broken Bones”.
That is hardcore on par with Dead Kennedys’ In God We Trust Inc. The Freeze wasn’t a “straight edge” band, to my knowledge, but they had a real beef with boozers, as seen in “Idiots At Happy Hour”, and “It’s Only Alcohol”:
As soon as I took the drink away, his eyes began to roam.
His chin began to tremble and his mouth began to foam.
He started shaking violently, his lips were turning blue.
I had to give him the whiskey back, what else was I to do.
He says it’s only alcohol, and you can’t call that a drug. I wish somebody took the time to warn him that his face would turn all bloated and his guts would be diseased. He says it’s only alcohol but it brought him to his knees.
What started just on weekends soon turned to every day.
His hands became unsteady, his composure fell away.
He could have been a doctor, hell, he could have been a monk.
He could have been most anything, but now he’s probably drunk.
All of this is delivered in a nearly unintelligible slur. It’s exactly the kind of doggerel a precocious teenager would scribble in their spiral-bound notebook. If the Bottle Kids from Trailer Park Boys had a band, this is how it would sound.
Extending the Dead Kennedys comparison, The Freeze had their own anthem regarding the infestation of neo-Nazis at punk shows, “Nazi Fun”. You see kids, we used to have to deal with “actual skinheads”. That’s why we tell you to fuck off with calling people Nazis.
If your Doc Martens were laced with the “wrong color”, or if they were “oxblood”, you could receive a serious beating. They wore red suspenders, just like in GWAR’s “Slaughterama”. I had a friend who was a “SHARPie”, meaning “Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice”. He was often frustrated at being taken for a Nazi skinhead on sight.
This was around the time I saw Scatterbrain, and two skinheads sieg-heiled the band from the crowd. You kids crying “Nazi” in 2017 wouldn’t know one if it goose-stepped on your petunias. The people rioting, destroying property, and suppressing free speech? Them’s your Nazis, pard.
When aggression and stupidity
Start working hand in hand
And other groups are ridiculed
For not being a “hardcore” band
They call it hardcore justice
But it’s their way to gain control
We don’t need police on the dance floor
So you messed up a jock
And he won’t be back again
But it was ten on one
That’s Nazi fun
The days seem gone when people cared
And punks tried to unite
Blinded by the punch-trash
That primal urge to fight
What are you really changing
Except the structure of people’s bones
You’ll die just the same if they drop the bomb
Violence leads to violence
It was ten to one
That’s Nazi fun
Like Ween, and “You Fucked Up”, The Freeze gifted us a song that perfectly sums up the emotions that arise after being dumped. “I’m Too Good For You” contains an up-yours for the ages.
I’m a better person, and I lead a better life
And I’d make a better husband
Than you’d ever make a wife
And if we had any children, I’m sure you would agree
That they’d only be good-looking
If they looked like me.
More infectious than The Germs, with the hyper drive of Dead Kennedys but not the heavy politics, The Freeze is pure punk that deserves equal admiration.