No Age is offering fans a rare history lesson. Before forming their now acclaimed noise rock outfit, Randy Randall and Dean Spunt were members of this Los Angles punk trio, Wives. A previously unheard effort, The Roy Tapes is a means of shared celebration as Spunt’s label, Post Present Medium celebrates 10 years. Before departing on what would be Wives’ last tour Best Coast drummer, Bobb Bruno helped the band to record this final material.
While No Age continues to exhibit more control over their obviously punk influenced roots, Wives can’t say the same. The Roy Tapes is raw, uninhibited punk, led by reckless instrumentals from Spunt on bass, Randall on guitar, and the addition of then-new drummer and album namesake, Roy Tatum. “One” serves as perfect opener, bursting forth with gritty guitar riffs and Spunt’s more spoken than sung vocals. Drums and guitars become indistinguishable instruments of fuzz on “Cars” as Spunt’s shouts work to overcome the turmoil.
Despite Wives’ inclusion in the chaos of punk, The Roy Tapes features clear moments of the future direction Spunt and Randall’s sound would take with No Age. “If You Went Any Lower You’d Hit China” could easily double as lost material from the early starts of No Age, as a guitar line given room to grow ushers in a drastic and short lived slowdown. While vocals are inaudible for the majority of the recording, during a cover of Negative’s Approach, “Can’t Tell No One”, Spunt’s shouts are championed to the levels of passionate pleas he’s now known for.
It seems implausible; a group whose old usage of feedback borders on abuse, could one day turn noise rock into something beautiful. The Roy Tapes is a history lesson worth paying attention to, with a thrilling look into a past that so drastically shaped the future.
Essential Tracks: “One” and “If You Went Any Lower You’d Hit China”