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the avengers . died for your sins
(1999) Lookout! Records CD/LP (out of print)

Long out of print CD for Avengers completists.
The only place to find "I Want In" and 'Crazy Homicide"

listen or download 18 tracks

click on song title for lyrics

1. teenage rebel
2. friends of mine
3. white nigger
4. the good the bad and the kowalskis
5. i want in
6. crazy homicide
7. the end of the world
8. the american in me
9. open your eyes
10. car crash
11. tiny pink noise
12. fuck you
13. joker's wild
14. something's wrong
15. desperation
16. i believe in me
17. money
18. we are the one

Here are the liner notes from the album:

A few years ago a small label called Really Fast from Sweden released a single with two Avengers songs taken from a tape that Danny Furious had. I remembered the day we recorded it at Iguana rehearsal hall with a stereo mic (which we thought was pretty advanced!) I recognized Teenage Rebel but the other song Friends Of Mine was totally new to me, even though it was clear that I was singing it and had written the lyrics. And it sounded pretty good. How many songs never made it to tape? How many lost to memory? I started collecting live shows to see what was out there.

My hopes in releasing this album were to bring to light some of the lost Avengers songs and give give a feeling of the wildness of the live shows.

What you're holding in your hands is mostly an archival set of field recordings. and we have the tapers and traders to thank for it's existence. Without them many performances and even whole songs would have disappeared without a trace. I had no idea that these recordings were out there floating around in the world and that with the internet and hours of word-of-mouth research they could be tracked down. Teenage Rebel, Friends Of Mine and The Good The Bad And The Kowalskis were from the Iguana rehearsal. The early version of White Nigger was demoed at Wally Heider Studios and is quite different from the one Steve Jones produced on the Avengers EP from 1979. It reminds me of how late I would wait to finish writing the lyrics before a recording session (once on the bus on the way there). Crazy Homicide, I Want In and The End Of The World were songs I did have lyrics for and really were finished, but only could be found on muddy live sets. Greg was excited about the idea of recording them and since Danny was in Sweden and Jimmy was incommunicado we put together the Scavengers with Joel Reader and Danny Panic (of The Plus Ones). Probably my favorite moment on this album is Greg's lead on The End Of The World which he remembered note for note for 20 years ago! We hope the purists will forgive us (or fuck 'em). The 2nd half of the recording is cut together from 5 of about 15 different live shows that I collected from the collectors. I don't remember a whole lot about them as I had a formula of three gin and tonics before hitting the stage, but I'm pretty sure the performer that played before us which I critiqued in Fools Or Hippies was a scruffy bearded hippie banging pots and pans. He later became the artist known as Zev. From listening to the live tapes I have to admit that harranging the audience was part and parcel of a Avengers show. People seemed to like it. If these songs sound blurry, ferocious, impassioned and slightly out of control, then they'll give you a little taste of what it was like at the Mabuhay Gardens in 1978. Wish you'd been there.

-Penelope Houston, Dec. 1998

here's a review from Greil Marcus in Interview Magazine:

The Avengers were San Francisco's best punk band, in
moments the best in the republic: fabulous songs, a
snarling, confrontational presence, a primitive sound
that could go anywhere. Led by Penelope Houston, a
teenage screamer with a blonde crew cut, they broke up
two decades ago; when a reconstituted version of the
group, the Scavengers, played shows in February to
celebrate the release of the Avengers' Died for Your
Sins (Lookout!), a collection of mostly 1977-79 tapes
("field recordings," Houston calls them), it was hard
to know what you were looking at.

Since the '70s Houston has pursued a career as a solo
folksinger; this night her long hair was dyed blue and
she was the picture of happiness. Avengers guitarist
Greg Ingraham has a handsome, ordinary Midwestern
face; he was taciturn, resolute, as if thinking back
on a defeat only he remembered. Original bassist James
Wilsey, later responsible for the
ghost-riders-in-the-sky guitar on Chris Isaak's "You
Owe Me Some Kind of Love," was replaced by Joel Reader
of the Mr. T Experience; Danny Panic of Screeching
Weasel sat in for original drummer Danny Furious.
Despite the fact that Reader is young enough to be
Houston and Ingraham's son, the four played like a
true band - like the true band the Scavengers are on
Died for Your Sins, on three tracks taking up
unrecorded Avengers songs and nailing them shut.

The Scavengers opened with the Avengers' "Teenage
Rebel." Houston is forty-one, and at first she seemed
slightly embarrassed. As the song went on you could
see a teenage rebel step right out of her, and from
that point on the woman and her double shared the
stage. Soon enough, with "Car Crash," the Avengers'
greatest song - its gory imagery and girl-group
ululations standing in for a chorus, the actual
feeling of death and metal and blood orchestrated by a
cool "oh-ah-ah-oh-oh" - a full sense of the adventure
and danger you can feel on Died for Your Sins came
through: black humor with the lights out.

On the record, that's Houston berating a crowd with
such conviction that two decades collapse into the
present like a cut in a film; it's the wild fervor of
"Fuck You," the two words - pretty much the complete
lyric - running out in front of the singer like a
creep she can't catch. It's the atmosphere of sweat,
nervousness, boredom, ritualized hate, and most of all
anticipation you can feel in the West Coast clubs
where the live recordings were made - the same bad
weather the boys in the Scavengers hail down on
Houston for the title refrain of "Crazy Homicide,"
which they recorded just months ago.

"This next song is dedicated to all our friends who
are hanging outside because they can't get inside
here, 'cause they're under twenty-one - just like me,"
Houston says on Died for Your Sins. It's 1978, and
it's as if her youth has just struck her as something
that has already passed. The same feeling is there
twenty years later in another of the Scavengers'
numbers, "The End of the World." Doomy, determined,
and unashamedly corny - all melodrama - the tune
starts out as a near-rewrite of "The Shape of Things
to Come," a plainly fake but nevertheless stirring
teens-rule manifesto performed by the fictional band
Max Frost and the Troopers in the 1968 film Wild in
the Streets (you can hear it on the recent Nuggets box
set). But then you begin to get the feeling that, not
going back twenty years but bringing the last twenty
years toward her like wind, Houston is not joking. Way
back in her punk days, the notion of the end of the
world was real, and appealing, and in some part of her
it still is - the part that on her new solo album,
Tongue (Reprise), makes "Scum" into something the
forty-four-year-old homicide cop heroine of Martin
Amis's novel Night Train would play all night. The
version of "Car Crash" on Died for Your Sins -
recorded in 1978 at the Mabuhay Gardens in San
Francisco, the Avengers' home stage - ups the ante; it
very nearly pays off the album title. The momentum of
the performance is abstracted from the musicians; the
song seems to have a will of its own, and its will is
not to stop, for anything. If the musicians don't like
it they can get out of the way. The noise that comes
up sounds like Bill Pullman's face looks as it breaks
up in the last shots of Lost Highway; he can't stop

Died for Your Sins is not the only Avengers album; the
out-of-print Avengers appeared in 1983, marking the
disappearance of an out-of-action band. At the time it
was sobering - to hear what sounded like a bomb going
off after the war had been all but forgotten. Along
with the Avengers' queerly mystical, dreamlike
political anthems - "We Are the One," "The Amerikan in
Me," "Open Your Eyes," all of which can be found as
live performances on the new record - the LP included
a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black."

It must have seemed like a perfect choice to the band,
an exact conceptual match: dark, brooding, and furious
(the drummer's last name, after all). In fact the song
completely defeated them. Stuck dead in the middle of
a pure punk repertoire, it revealed itself as pure
antipunk. The ornamented melody forced the Avengers
into a cheesy rhythmic slide, away from their own
instincts; the band's pursuit of the song took them
into another dimension, and for as long as they chased
it their entire attack, their whole view of the world,
was erased.

This weird little drama was a backward proof of just
how complete - as music, as a form of aesthetics, a
style of performance, a way of life, a view of the
world - real punk was, and the Avengers were real
punk. They had learned a language, where nearly
everything that went into a song was broken down and
made up again from as close to nothing as anyone could
get, and for a long moment it seemed as if this new
language could say everything - or anything worth
saying. Try to speak another language, and you may
find you can't talk at all.

Source Citation: Marcus, Greil. "Avenging the
past.(the Avengers' new album 'Died for Your Sins')."
Interview (May 1999):