Circle Jerks - Wild in the Streets [Reissue] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Circle Jerks

Wild in the Streets [Reissue] (2014)

Drastic Plastic

What you might not know is that the version of the Circle Jerks’ Wild in the Streets in your CD or record collection might not actually be the real album. You see, Wild was originally released in 1982 on Faulty Products. Then, in 1988, it was repressed on both CD and vinyl on the Frontier Records label.

But, when time came to repress the album in 1988, the original mixed masters couldn’t be found. So, the label had to remix and re-edit the whole album from the base tracks and did it without the band’s approval.

That’s why, now, when you hear Wild, it sounds, to some degree, dramatically different from the debut Jerks LP, Group Sex. The frontier version has all the classic Jerks’ trademarks- short songs, amazingly snappy riffs, Keith Morris’ inimitable and sardonic take on the human condition- but it sounded much heavier. The guitars sounded more processed. The drums sounded more lumbering. It may have had a harder punch than earlier recordings, but to some degree, it also felt a little sluggish.

Well, now, after 32 years, Drastic Plastic has restored Wild to its rightful place. The re-release uses the original, Jerks approved 1982 mix, and really, the differences are palpable, though not necessarily earth shattering.

Most noticeably, the original/re-issue mix bears a much stronger connection to the sound and texture of Group Sex. Again, the album is rapid, spastic, and to a degree, light footed. The recordings are raw and wild. Greg Hetson’s guitar has a more vibrant, colorful found. Keith Morris’ vocals are stronger as are Roger Rogerson’s bass lines.

Most noticeably, though, is the radical change in the sound of Lucky Leher’s drums. On the later re-mixed versions, Leher’s drums were huge and thick but a residue of the infamous 80’s canned-drum sound made the whole album feel a bit clomp-y. But here, in the original form, Leher’s drums strike down with force, but have the spastic, flighty energy of the band’s first LP. The effect is significant With the drums less bogged down with reverb and echo, the whole band sounds more energetic, more vibrant, and more explosive (even though most of the actual sound recordings are identical), making the whole release a bit more exciting.

The original mix/newest mix also has a few surprises hidden for mega-fans. First and foremost is the typewriter that clicks away in “Defamation Innuendo.” As Morris plays the part of a pissy, jealous journalist attacking the Circle Jerks, a typewriter clicks in the background as he frets about his deadline. It’s a fun touch that makes the song standout in the band’s catalogue, so it is a little bit bizarre that the frontier version removes this bit of whimsy. Other less noticeable changes are hidden throughout the album, making this mix a treasure hunt for the most dedicated fans.

According to a few sources, the 2014 mix isn’t a “true” reproduction of the original 1982 mix, because, as with the Frontier version, the original mastered tapes have long since been lost. So, apparently, this mix wasn’t taken from the master tapes, but rather, was copied from an original vinyl version of the album. It’s been stated that the sound on the 2014 version, therefore, is slightly muddier than the original mix, because in effect, it’s a second-generation copy. That may be true, but frankly, unless you are able to track down a pristine original press of this much played and abused record, and are willing to shell out big bucks, the differences may exist, but are only perceptible in a side-by-side listening comparison.

The 2014 Drastic Plastic version is in a limited press of 1,000 copies and it’s not a cheaper release- the MSRP in the USA is over twenty bucks. So, at any rate, this is not the first stop for a Circle Jerks newbie. But, for those fans that already have the other material, this is a crucial re-issue in the realm of early hardcore.

Highly recommended for the veteran Circle Jerks fan.