The First Seven Inches Are Always The Hardest
The Beautys

by Chad Beck The First Seven Inches

Giving into fans across the country, The Beautys have mercifully released all of their previously “vinyl-only” material with several live and demo treats thrown in for good measure. Being the sort of nut who contemplated purchasing a turntable just to hear The Beautys’ early 7 inches, I can’t imagine how much joy this has brought to all of us partial to digital versions of classics like “Mmmm, F**kin’” and “Gas City Cops.” Jam packed with 26 tracks (four of which are hidden—wink, wink), The First Seven Inches is a particularly impressive overview of the best punk band ever to spring from the banks of any of Fort Wayne’s three carp- and crap-filled rivers.

A chronological story for the most part, The First Seven Inches opens with the band’s first single “The Girl From Planet F**k” and skips through various lineups and quality of audio until the searing live take of “What Drugs?” 25 songs later. Central throughout is Kathleen, a virtual tsunami of charm and quite possibly rock’s most seriously overlooked human being. Throughout the plethora of high-speed, surf-fused melodic punk presented here, Kathleen maintains control of the listener, shifting from candy-coated gems (“Sweetheart, Sweetheart” and “Girl Is A Girl”) to downright pissed diatribes (“Black Copters Over U.S.A.” and the delicious demo “Shut Yr Pie Hole”) with confidence and oodles of passion. The fiery vox are wonderful, but it’s dang-blasted amazing to think that Kathleen also plays hair-raising guitar on every track and is the band’s primary songwriter. Music this intense often gets lost in the shuffle when discussing songwriters, but “Jocks On Junk,” “DTs” and the biting “Coverband” should convince snobby critics everywhere that Kathleen is the real deal.

Although The Beautys present day lineup has been secure for a few years, it took them a while. Seven Inches includes several songs featuring the legendary Poopy Pants on bass, as well as a couple of drummers the band lost along the way. But it’s hard to deny that the Beautys really got rolling once Salsa Dave took reign of the skins, bringing unwaveringly solid bashing and mountains of energy to the mix. The First Seven Inches displays Dave’s versatility, going from surfy-shuffling (“Purple Knife,” “Small Meat Driver”) to ferocious (the climax of “Party Pants” leading into “A#1 Sex Shop Employee” almost makes you feel sorry for his battered kit) to playful pop (“Neighborhood”) without losing a bit of crackle and snap. Dave’s contribution to The Beautys sound is incomprehensible, as are the straightforward, lurching bass lines of the mighty Erick. His bass brings the necessary foundation for Kathleen’s guitar, but his frequent background vocals and quixotic stage presence give the band extra miles of flair.

It may be composed entirely of older material, but The First Seven Inches Are Always The Hardest has given a great indication of where The Beautys’ future lies. Constantly improving, effortlessly impressive and most of all just plain rockin’, The Beautys are one of the best acts anywhere. Period. You may own all their other records, but, without The First Seven Inches you’ll always be a virgin.

Don’t miss The Beautys’ “Release Party” this Saturday, March 8, at The Brass Rail on Broadway. The action gets started around 10p.m. With Sullen (St. Louis) and The Give-Ups.

Copyright 2003 Ad Media Inc.