By Michael Orpen
Before embarking on this review, I want you to do something for me. Open up Spotify or Apple Music (if you use the latter you are truly a scholar), and turn on “Martian Boogie” by Brownsville Station. Listen to it while you read this.
Now I know you must be thinking, “But Michael- it’s 3 am and I just got out of a horrific stress-induced episode fuelled by an unholy amount of monsters and vapes. I want something calm, soothing, and sweet to listen to. Not some strange song about Martians by an obscure band from the 1970s!” I don’t care. Put it on. Please. Read on as I tell you about a band that deserves a lot more attention. Also, get some sleep. If your 3am activity is to read a zine based in a central Illinois college town, seek help.
Is it on yet? Awesome. Let’s begin.
70’s hard rock and 80’s hair metal had an edge to it that seems like it was made specifically for ill-fated barbecues since the eve of the 2008 financial crisis. However, this music was notable for having an edge that was not heard of before and appeared to come out of nowhere. However, this music was led by pioneers like the likes of Kiss, Alice Cooper, and (regrettably) Ted Nugent. This torch was later carried by bands like Motley Crue, Ratt, Bon Jovi, and Poison in the 1980s. These bands had an edge, ferocity, and sonic onslaught that had never been heard of before. At least, that’s what people thought then. What if I told you that all of the above-mentioned groups had everything to thank for three “punks” from Detroit.
Brownsville Station is a band that is criminally underappreciated. Despite having limited commercial success in 1973 with their #3 Single “Smokin in the Boys Room” (later covered by Motley Crue), they deserved so much better. They managed to take their biggest influences (Black Rock & Roll legends like Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley) and kick it up to 11. Their stage antics were one of Alice Cooper’s biggest influences when he started to turn up his anti-hero persona on stage. Brownsville Station’s singer and lead guitarist Cub Koda would go on humorous energetic anecdotes while the rhythm section got the crowd going (See “Kings of the Party off of School Punks). Even “Martian Boogie” off of their 1977 self-titled album has these humorous tangents (I hope you’re listening, it would be very girlboss of you). In fact, their 1977 self-titled album, in my most humble opinion, is one of the finest rock albums ever. They brought forward an edge with their 1972 album, “A Night on the Town” that they honed and never relented on until they broke up eight years later.
I must admit, I struggle to fully get out in words just how great these guys were. Their energy and musical versatility are something that I think is rarely matched today. I strongly encourage you to listen to their self-titled album along with their other album, “School Punks.” Brownsville Station had fun and made good music while they were still at it. I strongly implore you to listen to some of their music. Maybe, one day, Blono can be…
The Boogie capital of the USA.