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The Jerks Live!: Songs as Chronicles of Protest in Uncertain Times

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The Jerks Live!: Songs as Chronicles of Protest in Uncertain Times

These are songs as memories, as historical notes. The album is a political treatise on the promise and failings of the EDSA Revolution, compressed to three-minute songs

By Joey Salgado

When Gary Granada’s Backdoor Records set up their gear sometime 1994 to record a live set by The Jerks, they probably didn’t know they were capturing a piece of Pinoy rock history.

By the 1990s, The Jerks have become a vital link between the first wave of Pinoy Rock and the emerging indie rock acts cutting their teeth in the same bars where the band held their residencies. The years on the road as journeymen musicians have transformed The Jerks from punk rock disruptors to a finely-honed, tight outfit, with a wide-ranging “pondo” of blues, punk, and classic rock songs.

The Jerks were also attracting a steady crowd of activists and progressives to their gigs, drawn to the band’s original songs penned by frontman Chickoy Pura. These songs tackled social issues at a time when the nation was still pretty much hung over from the 1986 EDSA Revolution.

 Photo collage from the gatefold album, with liner notes by rock critic Eric Caruncho

To speak of the EDSA Revolution, as Pura did in “Sayaw Sa Bubog,” as a “palabas na moro-moro,” and to ask point blank “Edsa ang pagbabago? Kailan, saan, kanino?” was a bold declaration. Delivered in a mesmerizing, festive rhythm, “Sayaw sa Bubog” is a critique of EDSA as a grand deception, a spit in the eye of a great national swindle.

The country that Pura wrote and sang about in the 1990s, as recorded in “The Jerks Live!,” was a country at a crossroads, when the dream began to unravel, when democratic ideals and social realities took divergent paths.

These are songs as memories, as historical notes. Pura not only wrote and sang about them, he chronicled them for posterity. The album is a political treatise on the promise and failings of the revolution, compressed to three-minute songs.

“The Jerks Live” was first released on cassette in 1995. When trailblazing indie label Backspacer Records got the green light to release the album on vinyl, they encountered a major problem. The master tapes could not be located.

In true punk DIY spirit, Backspacer’s Robert Tuazon got hold of a cassette copy, and passed it on to resident sound engineer Shinji Tanaka who did a masterful job mixing the album for vinyl.

After more than 20 years, the album gets a second lease. “The Jerks Live!” on vinyl captures the raw energy, the transcendent, communal experience of a live performance by The Jerks in their prime.

You can smell the toxic mix of beer and cigaret smoke, and feel the grime, the sweat, and the brewing rage.

The Jerks 45

Also out on 7” EP is The Jerks 45, a gift to the most hardcore fans. The tracks include “Romantic Kill,” “Big Deal,” and “I Need Something Inside Me” from ground zero of the local punk rock scene, one that would burst wide open with On! and Katrina’s, Twisted Red Cross, and the Brave New World concerts before imploding and burning out almost as soon as it began.

Released by Mutilated Records.

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