The Dead Boys‘ iconic 1977 debut album Young Loud and Snotty is still, well, young, loud and snotty — at least as far as the current incarnation of the Cleveland punk rock troupe is concerned.
The group’s re-recorded version of the album, titled Still Snotty: Young Loud & Snotty at 40! comes out Sept. 8 — the new version of LP highlight “What Love Is” is premiered exclusively below — and according to guitarist and co-founder Cheetah Chrome it sounds more like what he and his bandmates wanted the first time around.
“When we first did the record it was supposed to be a demo tape; It was not supposed to be a real record,” Chrome (real name Gene O’Connor) tells Billboard. “None of us had been in a recording studio before that. We were all nervous. I wasn’t happy with my guitar sound. There were a bunch of different reasons that it should’ve been re-recorded. But when we got the deal with Sire, Seymour [Stein, label head] didn’t think it needed to be re-recorded, so while we disagreed, that’s what we were left with.
“Over the years, the version that went out grew on me,” Chrome continues. “I was happy with it. I thought [producer] Genya Ravan did a great job, but it wasn’t what we heard in our heads. So this time we decided to take the approach of ‘What would’ve happened, possibly, if we had gone in and re-cut it?’ We weren’t trying to outdo it or anything; We wanted to make it something different, something to celebrate the 40th anniversary.”
The Dead Boys broke up in 1979 after one more studio album, and while frontman Stiv Bators died in 1990 after a traffic accident in France, the surviving members began getting together for periodic reunions in 2005, including shows in Cleveland and CBGB in New York. Earlier this year Chrome and drummer Johnny Blitz joined forces to play Young, Loud and Snotty in its entirety at South By Southwest and in St. Catherine, Ont., and the current lineup — which also includes bassist Ricky Rat, guitarist Jason Kottwitz and singer Jake Hout from the Undead Boys “zombie” tribute band — launches a tour on Sept. 7 to celebrate the set’s 40th anniversary.
“It feels right,” says Chrome, adding that Bators family has given the project its blessing. “I doesn’t feel like any time has passed at all. We’re lucky that this band kind of has the same dynamic as the old band. Obviously it’s not the same, but I think that album has really stood up compared to a lot of the albums that were made back then, and we sound really good playing the songs. So it’s good. It’s something worth doing.”
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The Dead Boys are planning some sort of 40th anniversary celebration next year for their sophomore album, We Have Come For Your Children. “That one in particular we were not happy with the recording,” Chrome says, “so there’s a chance we might get the original masters and do something with that, which I would really like to do.” He adds that there’s a possibility the current Dead Boys may also choose to re-record the album as it did with Young Loud and Snotty. “Those songs are just as strong as the first album. They sounded great live. We were appalled when we heard the final mixes, so it would be nice to do those songs justice.”
And while Chrome continues to lead his own band, he has every intention of keeping the Dead Boys a going concern, maybe even writing and recording new music in the near future. “Y’know, I never expected to live to be 30, let alone be playing and touring when I’m 62,” he says. “But it’s cool because now, the audience is all kids again. It’s gone full circle. It’s nice to be out there playing for a younger audience that wasn’t even born and now’s really into it and just singing along to all the songs. That makes me feel good.”