Kid Dynamite was the nickname for that huge bully who rolled down the hallway like a fat-ass tornado and shoved you in your locker before you even saw him coming. But here’s the catch: you were that weird kid in middle school who had a burgeoning S&M fetish, so you actually liked it — the harder the better. Kid Dynamite, the quartet from Philadelphia, beat the crap out of people for three years or so, and we all loved it. Unfortunately for all of us little perverts life imitated art: the band’s run was wonderfully loud but painfully short. They blasted out two albums then broke up (actually, their “last show” in February 2000 was also the record-release show for the sophomore release Shorter, Faster, Louder. So theoretically, you could probably argue that they put out one record, then broke up, then put out another. I guess it depends whether you could purchase the record before they started their set at the last show … Or you could just make some friends and go outside instead of spending your afternoon trying to work that one out.)
Kid Dynamite harkened back to a time before ugly basketball jerseys and Chuck Norris-inspired moshing, when “hardcore” and “punk” were not mutually exclusive terms (on this note, how the fuck did a Kid Dynamite / Avail tour never happen? Who’s in charge of this — shouldn’t this have been decreed by some kind of Punk Overlord?). Lead by ex-Lifetime punk-rock-riff god Dr. Dam Yemin (currently of Paint it Black), Kid Dynamite songs are about as epic as contemporary punk can get. They are 90-second mini-anthems that somehow combine a ferocity that makes you want to punch yourself in the neck with a chorus that sticks in your head for a week. Think Black Flag if their guitars didn’t sound like buzzsaws recorded in a porto-potty; Gorilla Biscuits with a little less floorpunching and little more throat; Paint it Black if they turned up the ‘Awesome’ 20 notches. It’s pure, all-systems-go punk fucking rock.
Cheap Shots, Youth Anthems is a solid collection of some hard to find material, loose ends tied together and packaged with a nod to the Who’s Odds & Sods on the album cover. It contains songs from every compilation and split release, covers, demos, a live radio recording, even vocalist Jason Shevchuk’s audition tapes. Consequently, this record is pretty easy to explain to the prospective buyer: it’s the classic “for the fans” album. If you were a huge KD dude, you’ve had a perma-boner waiting for exactly this kind of shit: 29 songs, all the stuff you and your friends have had a hard time finding on Kazaa. This is kind of like the stocking stuffer for kids who were really into the band: “For the Kid Dynamite fan who has everything …” If, however, you are unfamiliar with the band, go buy the two full-lengths. This CD really serves only as a complement to the original LP recordings; it’s not a starter kit.
It’s also easy enough to break down. The package includes a CD, a DVD and some sizable linear notes. The CD, of course, is awesome. The demo stuff is really the highlight — the quality of the material is actually pretty respectable. For a die-hard fan, it’s pretty cool to hear early versions of some old favorites (a good few changed considerably by the time they made it onto wax) as well as a previously unreleased track. But the linear notes are what really make this purchase worthwhile. Instead of reprinting the same lyrics and photos we’ve seen a hundred times, they took advantage of the space to share little anecdotes about each song. There’s room for everything from “this hook was hard to write” to “we got in a car accident on the way to record this one.” It definitely works, again, as a sort of nod of appreciation to the type of fan who would buy this record.
The DVD, unfortunately, was lacking. Kid Dynamite was just plain ridiculous live, so I was pretty psyched to see how it was captured on film. In reality, this is kind of the only bummer on this album: it’s pretty much just a teaser for a full-length DVD coming out later this year on Jade Tree. For what it’s worth, I guess it “teased” well. There are a few live performances (including two from their reunion this summer), an excerpt from a Philly-area cable special on the band’s reunion and its impetus, and a preview for the aforementioned feature length project. Eh … I guess.
Bottom line, I could really give a shit about the DVD. It could’ve been a “Blues Clues” anthology for all I care. This CD needed to be made at some point, and I don’t really see how it could’ve been done any better. It’s damn near a must have for anyone who was in any way a part of this band’s history.