False Prophets - Blind Roaches and Fat Vultures: Phantasmagoric Beasts of the Reagan Era (Cover Artwork)

False Prophets

False Prophets: Blind Roaches and Fat Vultures: Phantasmagoric Beasts of the Reagan EraBlind Roaches and Fat Vultures: Phantasmagoric Beasts of the Reagan Era (2000)
Alternative Tentacles

Reviewer Rating: 5
User Rating:

Contributed by: feeeding5000feeeding5000
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Just as a disclaimer: I know absolutely nothing about this band. I don't know who the members are, when they were formed, where they're from, or whatever. That being said, this is, in all honesty, one of the greatest albums I've ever gotten. I'm not saying that it's one of the greatest punk album.

Just as a disclaimer: I know absolutely nothing about this band. I don't know who the members are, when they were formed, where they're from, or whatever.

That being said, this is, in all honesty, one of the greatest albums I've ever gotten. I'm not saying that it's one of the greatest punk albums of the `80s or anything like that, but that's only because the False Prophets don't appear to have had any influence on punk in general, unlike many of their contemporaries.

Blind Roaches and Fat Vultures: Phantasmagoric Beasts of the Reagan Era is a collection of what appears to be the False Prophet's first (only?) album and their first few singles. These songs are just truly, truly genius. Basically, this is old-school hardcore punk in the vein of Reagan Youth or early Dead Kennedys. However, this is so much more than one-dimensional punk. The album begins with a few slower hardcore songs, one of the best being the anti-moshing tirade "Good Clean Fun." The song has the perfect combination of sarcasm and seriousness that makes a great punk song. Another of the better singles is "Suburbanites Invade," a surprisingly convincing reggae-punk song. Even though it goes on for about 4 minutes, an eternity in hardcore, it never gets boring.

The actual album starts with "7 Deadly Sins," a typical anti-religious screed. It gets a little more interesting with "Scorched Earth," one of the only punk songs I've ever heard that incorporates hip-hop, and still manages to sound good. On "Functional," the element of keyboard is introduced, which adds an almost goth-y touch. They even (correct me if I'm wrong) cover a showtune with "Marat/Sade." It certainly sounds like a punked-up version of something from Phantom of the Opera or Les Miz. The album ends with the haunting "Faith."

This compilation also includes "Banana Split Republic," which was included on the (in)famous compilation, Peace/War.

Now, after reading this, you may not think this is all that special. But really, it's not easy to describe. The False Prophets are much more than the sum of their parts. You'll understand once you listen to them. Just please, give this a chance.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (April 4, 2006)

Debra DeSalvo is seriously stretching the truth when she says that Alternative Tentacles wanted to add the Implosion album to the Blind Roaches reissue. She wasn't involved in the discussions between the original band members and the label, so how would she know? AT was much more interested in the first album and the out-of-print and unreleased material; the strongest opinion I remember Jello Biafra expressing was that he wanted "Overkill," "Good Clean Fun, "and "Blind Obedience," tracks from our out-of-print 45s, to be the first three songs. And it would have been physically impossible to fit both the band's albums, never mind giving people "Good Clean Fun," "Banana Split Republic," and the other bonus tracks, on one 78-minute CD.

Stephan, Peter, and I decided early on to put off dealing with Implosion because we wanted to get this album out without bringing in the acrimonious personal, financial, and creative issues surrounding Implosion. Implosion could have been a great album, but Giorgio Gomelsky's production butchered most of the songs, turning it into the kind of pretentious crap many of us got into punk to escape. It alienated many of our longtime fans, and most of the band quit within a few months.

I've always found Implosion painfully unlistenable. So I was only willing to reissue it if it were remixed. Stephan and I talked a bit about it, but AT's loss of the Dead Kennedys' back catalog rendered the issue moot. So far, I haven't seen any other offers.

--Steve the bass player

Anonymous (March 23, 2006)

p.s. here's what Ira Robbins/Trouser Press had to say on the subject.

Don't be thrown by the irreverent religious imagery on False Prophets: after they get through "Invokation" and "Seven Deadly Sins," this punk-rocking New York five-piece trains its obviously educated intelligence on more traditional hardcore themes like war, authority, violence and rebellion. The Prophets mediate the punk onslaught with dynamics and tempos that don't all run on overdrive, but there's nothing remarkable about their debut.

Implosion, produced by living legend Giorgio Gomelsky, is light years better, breaking uncharted ground on three selections with the fourth-dimensional addition of a horn section led by James White. What a concept! Speedcore takes a back seat as False Prophets reveal their expansive and temperate rock imagination, testing varied rough waters with conviction and wild-eyed enthusiasm.

Hey I love both albums and was honored to be in the band, both with Steve W and without him. I would never dump on the band's achievements before I joined it!! They rocked!

Anonymous (March 23, 2006)

hey, glad you like the CD! but puhleeze, the band hardly ground to a halt after steve wishnia left waaay back in 1987. we went on til 1993!! did some huge tours of Europe...the Implosion album steve disliked so much was released by AT UK there in 1989. AT wanted to add it to the CD you guys reviewed but Steve refused to sign off on that...everyone else in the band was willing but Steve effectively blocked it from being heard. in his feature on the band in Spin Charles Young said Implosion was "highly listenable" and that "if you hate evil and love your ears, the FPs will not lead you astray."
anyhoo...in 1988 we made a video for Never Again Again that was in rotation on MTV 120 Minutes, added guitarist Steve Taylor in 89, got involved with the poetry scene thru his long association w/allen ginsberg...2 more tours of europe, many of the US. recorded Invisible People for Cargo in 91 ("proves once again that an intellectual/social/political group can remain in the forefront of the NY music scene"--Music Press). the first pressing sold out in the first month but we had lots of probs with Cargo...then Steve got into a Ph D program at brown u...felt like time to quit, so we did:-)
debra www.debradesalvo.com

feeeding5000 (December 28, 2005)

Whoa! My review actually got a member of the band to comment. That's fantastic. If you look at this again, I'd just like to say that this is truly fantastic. Maybe you could re-form for one album, like...uhhh...the Feederz, or something. Unless you parted on bad terms or don't want to has-beens, or something. In any case, just want to kiss your ass.

Anonymous (December 28, 2005)

Hi, this is Steve Wishnia, the False Prophets' bass player. Damn, it's good to see people still excited about our music after all these years.

Anyway, the band formed in New York in 1980. This is the first album, recorded in 1984 and released in early 1986, along with our two singles and a bunch of odds & sods. The second album, Implosion, was recorded in 1987 with different guitar players; it's got good songs but was disastrously overproduced. The band then broke up and re-formed with only one original member (Stephan, the lead singer). I had nothing to do with that era.

I take responsibility (credit? blame?) for the reggae/rap stuff we did. When the band started I was living in a neighborhood in Brooklyn that had really good reggae-record stores, so I got into U-Roy, Augustus Pablo, Junior Murvin (he did the original of "Police and Thieves") and Ranking Trevor ("War," covered by D.O.A. as "War in the East"). And Stephan grew up in a West Indian neighborhood. As for rap, we were all living in the ghetto back then, so you'd always hear people blasting Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa on boomboxes. I'm not that into hip-hop now, but I was then.

I still play around NYC pretty often. I'm doing a thing with artist Seth Tobocman and drummer Eric Blitz in Brooklyn Jan. 13, and a New Orleans benefit on the 15th with a yet unnamed band. I also play guitar in Gateria.

BrandonSideleau (December 17, 2005)

GreenVandal......let's put it this way.......you WILL like it, and if you don't it just means you have bad taste in music lol.

GreenVandal (December 15, 2005)

I just ordered this from AT. You guys better be right abiut it or i'll be mad!

lushj (December 13, 2005)

Can you ask Steven Taylor to e-mail me @ Alternative Tentacles? That'd be cool to carry his book if it's still available. I'm at jesse at alternativetentacles.com


Russe11 (December 12, 2005)

That was an awesome story man.

Anonymous (December 12, 2005)

My professor looks like John Tesh, but I don't think he can play the piano.

Anonymous (December 12, 2005)

This looks interesting, I'll give 'em a listen or two.

Anonymous (December 12, 2005)

my professor was in this band for five years and penned a book on it (includes their greatest hits cd). False Prophets - Field Notes from the Punk Underground, by Steven Taylor, available from Weslyan Press.

Anonymous (December 12, 2005)

.....incorporates hip-hop?.........ewww

Anonymous (December 12, 2005)

AT seems to be putting out more and more records that I'm likely to buy - that F-Minus discography is gonna be snapped up next.

lushj (December 12, 2005)

They had a couple full-lengths, the second one (i.e. the one that's not on this cd) is "Implosion." There's also a later ep floating around too. Maybe try www.gemm.com ?

lushj (December 12, 2005)

The song is from the musical "Marat/Sade" (acclaimed mid-60s musical adapted as a film in 1966). Funny you should mention that song- I had a tape of some False Prophets record when I was a pissed-off teenager. On a car trip with my mom she said "let's listen to some of your music" so I put the False Prophets in. When we came to that tune she totally recognized it having loved the play 20 years before and ended up totally schooling me on what one of "my" bands was covering. I had absolutely no idea what the song was from until then. She gave the band props for covering it, but thought it (like all punk) was unlistenable. [She finally likes rocksteady, ska, and Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros, but that's about it when it comes to edgy music.]

Enough about my mom, let's talk about yours!

P.S.- Stephan/leader of the False Prophets is in San Francisco nowadays. The band was based in NYC.

BrandonSideleau (December 12, 2005)

Best Songs in my opinion- "Creatures Of The Woodwork", "Baghdad Stomp", "Decade Of Decay", and "Blind Obediance".........but every song is cool.

BrandonSideleau (December 12, 2005)

This is a fucking awesome album.....one of my all time favorites.

rkl (December 11, 2005)

when i first opened this review, i thought it said lost prophets, and was getting ready to write some scathing bullshit about giving that crap band 5 stars.
then i blinked, and felt like a fool.

Anonymous (December 11, 2005)

thank you jello for another(i.e. the skate rock reissue series) excellent reissue of a band more people should have to opportunity to listen to

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