The American In Me

by The Avengers

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about

"'The American In Me' was a torn flag flown by the Avengers... the best punk band in San Francisco, in moments the best in the country. [Their songs were] like a rock through the window that separates the true from the false." - from the liner notes by Greil Marcus.

Recorded in 1978-79, this sonic manifesto contains 8 live tracks* and 4 previously unreleased studio tracks -- including 2 alternate takes from the infamous sessions produced by Sex Pistol, Steve Jones.

In the late 70s world of fast and furious punk, two years seemed like a pretty long time. We had already played more than 100 shows up and down the West Coast, driving a beat-up van and sleeping on friend's floors at punk rock squats. Although, we'd recorded a dozen songs in three or four studios – mostly on "spec" time – there was only one 3-song EP (Dangerhouse Records, 1977) available. At that time, support from labels, press and radio was nearly non-existent. Playing on stage at the few punk clubs of the day was how we connected with our audience.

When we decided to break up the band we had three shows left to play. This was the first of the three and was unusual for several reasons. We had headlined every show since opening for the Sex Pistols, a year and a half earlier, but this night we were the support band and we had to play twice. Penetration, the female-fronted U.K. band was touring and Bill Graham's mainstream rock club, The Old Waldorf, booked them to play two shows. The club's policy was for the audience to buy a separate ticket to each set, sit at long tables radiating from the stage and pay for two drinks. If you deviated from their policies you could be dragged out kicking and screaming. No standing, no dancing, absolutely no stage diving, buy that second drink and GET OUT after the first show. We thought all these rules were fascistic and encouraged people to break them whenever we could. "Tables are for dancing on," was our cry that night. We didn't have to worry about not being asked back. We were never coming back!

The other thing I remember about this show was the problem of playing the second set. My usual formula for a happy performance included two to four gin-tonics consumed before and during the show. This plan left me in an exceedingly relaxed state for the second set and in my fairly blurry memory, there's a moment where I believe I fell over. (Not unusual for Punk but it'd never happened to me before.) I'm pretty certain that this recording comes from the first set. Everyone in the band felt torn over our decision to split up, but glad we still had a couple more shows where we could go out in a blaze of glory in front of our most faithful fans and friends.

The performance contains impassioned versions of some of our more notorious songs "The American In Me" and "Corpus Christi" played with the harder, flamboyant guitar style of our last guitarist, Vancouver's Brad Kent AKA Brad Cunt, once of DOA. Also included are three songs that have never been officially released; "Misery" (AKA "Finger On The Trigger,") "Zero Hour" and "Time To Die." While the first two did have actual lyrics, "Time To Die" seems like a work in progress. One that would never be perfected, since ten days later we played our final show. Still, the moment in time has been captured and you now hold a record of that moment, be it powerful, furious, imperfect or bittersweet. It is dedicated to those who were there, but are now too deaf or too dead to remember.

- Penelope Houston, Oakland CA, 2003

credits

released 19 April 2004

The Avengers are:
Penelope Houston: vocals
Greg Ingraham: guitar (tracks 1-4)
Brad Kent: guitar (tracks 5-12)
Danny Furious: drums
Jimmy Wilsey: bass

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Track Name: We Are The One (alt version)
we are the one
lyrics and music by Penelope Houston, G. Ingraham, D. O'Brien, J. Wilsey

we are the leaders of tomorrow
we are the one to have the fun
we want control we want the power
not gonna stop until it comes

we are not Jesus Christ
we are not fascist pigs
we are not capitalist industrialists
we are not communists
we are the one

we will build a better tomorrow
the youth of today will be the tool
american children built for survival
fate is our destiny and we shall rule

we are not Jesus Christ
we are not fascist pigs
we are not capitalist industrialists
we are not communists
we are the one

I am the one who shows you the future
I am the one who buries the past
a new species rise up from the ruins
I am the one that was made to last

we are not Jesus Christ
we are not fascist pigs
we are not capitalist industrialists
we are not communists
we are the one
Track Name: The American in Me (alt version)
the american in me
lyrics by Penelope Houston/ music by P. Houston, G. Ingraham, D. O'Brien, J. Wilsey


It's the American in me that makes me watch the blood
running out of the bullethole in his head.
It's the American in me that makes me watch TV
see on the news, listen what the man said.
He said

"Ask not what you can do for your country
what's your country been doing to you
Ask not what you can do for your country
what's your country been doing to your mind?"

It's the American in me says it an honor to die
in a war that's just a politicians lie
It's the American in me that makes me watch TV
see how they burn the SLA
They say

"Ask not what you can do for your country
what's your country been doing to you
Ask not what you can do for your country
what's your country been doing to your mind?"

In the USA!
In the USA!
In the USA!

It's the American in me that makes me watch the blood
running out of the bullethole in his head.
It's the American in me that never wonders why
Kennedy was murdered by the FBI (said)
Track Name: White Ni**er (alt take)
white nigger
lyrics by Penelope Houston/ music by P. Houston, G. Ingraham, D. O'Brien, J. Wilsey


Well, you don't know what you want
working everyday in your restaurant
your life is slipping out of control
lose your job gonna lose you soul

now boy, young and white, so you wanna make it bigger
boy, you better watch your step, white nigger

When you were young you had such big plans
such big ambitions gonna be a good man
I say look at you now, oh what a coward
living your life but you don't know how to live

boy (little boy) young and white, so you try to make it bigger
boy, you just don't understand do you white nigger?

Work like a devil, work like a dog
where does it get you, where do you go oooohhhhh
Work for the money, work for the show
Work for the people that you don't know

I see you driving around in your car
pretend you're not what you really are
just look in the mirror look in your eyes
what you discover will be no surprise
something is missing something's wrong
you got your money but something's gone
something you had right from the start
you should have listened to your heart

Work like a dog, work like a slave,
Work like a devil, and what have you made ohhhhhh no, no, no
Work like a dog, work 9-5
working shaking his hand you're staying alive ohhhhhh no, no where you gonna go
Work work every day
Work your life away and sure it pays
but where does it get you, where are you now
come on white nigger
Track Name: Uh-Oh (alt take)
uh-oh
lyrics by Penelope Houston/ music by P. Houston, G. Ingraham, D. O'Brien, J. Wilsey

Who is that girl you see running down the alley?
She's all dressed in white, must be an escapee
ooh but she's beautiful just like a dream
and you're so hungry for some honey and cream, yeah

oh she's a mystery
you gotta get into her fantasies
so you run around the corner just to see what you can see
and there she is saying don't you follow me, oh no

She's got a smile like a knife in her teeth
and you've got a pressure problem with your sweaty hands, yeah
I've got my business got no time for you
going to a wedding getting married to myself

I am a mystery
you better check it with your fantasies
don't you try to put nothing on me
cause if you do I'm gonna make you very sorry you did

oh-oh-oh-uh-uh-oh
don't you want me?
oh-oh-oh-uh-uh-oh
don't you follow me
oh-oh-oh-uh-uh-oh
don't you want me?
oh-oh-oh-uh-uh-oh
the answer is no

yeah, I'm a mystery
you better check it with your fantasies
don't you try to put nothing on me
cause if you do I'm gonna make you very sorry you did

oh-oh-oh-uh-uh-oh
sex shooter
don't you want me?
oh-oh-oh-uh-uh-oh
don't you follow me
oh-oh-oh-uh-uh-oh
don't you want me?
oh-oh-oh-uh-uh-oh
the answer is no
Track Name: Cheap Tragedies (live)
cheap tragedies
lyrics by Penelope Houston/ music by P. Houston, G. Ingraham, D. O'Brien, J. Wilsey

The doors flew open and the people crowded in
they said, we can't wait for your show to start
and their bodies flew the only way they knew
they're coming straight for the center of my heart

I see your face and I've memorized it
I see your life, I recognize all your petty jealousies
your hidden tragedies, your bitter memories
they'll be the death of you yet, oh
they'll be the death of you yet, oh

now you look down and there's blood on your hands
your frustration went out of control
well, it's your nightmare and it's your life
go on home now, go to bed, go to sleep and dream

you see your face don't you even recognize it?
you see your life you've memorized all those petty jealousies
those hidden tragedies, those bitter memories
they'll be the death of you yet, oh
they'll be the death of you yet, oh
they'll be the death of you yet

you see your face don't you even recognize it?
you see your life you've memorized all those petty jealousies
those hidden tragedies, those bitter memories
they'll be the death of you yet, oh
they'll be the death of you yet, oh
they'll be the death of you yet, oh
they'll be the death of you yet, oh
they'll be the death of you yet
Track Name: Corpus Christi (Live '79)
corpus christi
lyrics by Penelope Houston/ music by P. Houston, B. Kent, D. O'Brien, J. Wilsey

In the beginning there was a void
except for the written word
But I was born in such foolish times
my guilt is guaranteed
now I don't want to burn in hell
John told me that I would
unless I went down to the water
my sins purged in his holy blood

see how they run, sheep to the fold
see how they fall, corpse from the cross

now I got my bleeding heart
and I wear my crown of thorns
and argue with the old men
about the tapestry was torn
I got to sacrifice my ego
it's such a small price to pay
I'm waiting for the resurrection
gonna find out what Christ would say

see how they run, sheep to the fold
see how they fall, corpse from the cross

read another bible story
I've got to find the truth
sending loads of telegrams to God
prove my faith is absolute
I'm going down, down on my knees and pray
maybe I'll buy a talisman
oh, something's got to save me
on the judgement day

see how they run, sheep to the fold
see how they fall, corpse from the cross
see how they run, sheep to the fold
see how they fall, corpse from the cross
kyrie eleison