Friday, October 28, 2011

Forgotten Rebels: This Ain't Hollywood (1981)

 (2nd pressing cover)

Of all the early punk bands from the Toronto area*, The Forgotten Rebels are the one that I love the most. While this predilection can be kind of embarrassing at times (leader Mickey DeSadist's ghoulishly obscene lyrics can be cringe-worthy), the band did consistently write great songs, glam-damaged pop-punk songs so infernally catchy you'd actually have to clamp your hand over your mouth to not incriminate yourself by singing any of those scabrous lyrics in public.

* Like Teenage Head (see HERE), the Rebels are unashamed Hamiltonians.

  (1st pressing cover)

Seeing the band play two full-on rock n' roll blow-outs, first at a basement club called Wellington's and at a barn-like social hall named Le Rendez-Vous, all the way back in nineteen-and-eighty-and-four probably also accounts for some of my deep-seated affection.

Interestingly, I actually had the band's album "This Ain't Hollywood" long before those shows, long before I actually even listened to it. Back around 1982, my brother's girlfriend had been staying in a hotel somewhere in Ontario where the band were playing and they insisted on giving her a copy of their album. When she returned, she disdainfully passed the record onto my brother. We, as incipient music geeks, puzzled over it. We'd never heard of the band (they had precious little national media exposure at the time) and the low-budget pinkish sleeve didn't tell us much what to expect.


So for over a year that record sat unplayed in my brother's closet. Then, when compiling a mix tape, my brother dusted off the record and, his words, "blew a freak" over the song "Surfin' on Heroin'". The album became a source for our mix tapes for years to come and every person I know got to hear "Surfin' on Heroin", including my old friends who listened exclusively to classic rock radio. And they all loved it. It later became fascinating to me that this same cycle of exposure repeated itself all over the world. That song, with no radio airplay, became the band's calling card. It gives a a strange faith in the idea of the 'great song'. After all we needed no music critic, no DJ, no publicist to make us see SOHs greatness, it's just deafeningly obvious to any one who's willing to take the album out of the closet and listen.

Soon enough, I came to love the entirety of This Ain't Hollywood...This is Rock N' Roll. It's a glorious, occasionally cheesy (and long OUT-OF-PRINT) album by a band of Anglophiles who loved loud English rock n' roll be it deadly serious or a total goof. The Rebels were clearly smitten with the Sex Pistols AND the Dickies not to mention Mott the Hoople AND Gary Glitter. Give it a spin and maybe you'll love it too.

This Ain't Hollywood (1981)
Produced by Bob "Cowboy" Bryden
Star Records

Hello Hello
Tell Me You Love Me
This Ain't Hollywood
Don't Hide Your Face
Memory Lane
Surfin' On Heroin
Rhona Barrett
The Me Generation
England Keep Yer Stars
Eve Of Destruction
Your Own Little World
Save the Last Dance For Me
It Won't Be Long

MRML readers, I know opinions on Forgotten Rebels are divided, so let us know where you stand in the COMMENTS section (which is where you'll find the This Ain't Hollywood link).

Support the band 




  1. HEY

  2. never heard of them. but you've certainly got me interested...

  3. Great writeup Jeffen. Loved hearing your story. Being from Hamilton, this is the band that really got me into punk rock, and I still call them one of my favourites.

    They really milked "Surfin' on Heroin" too, as it appears on 3 full-length albums (Hollywood, Pride and Disgrace, and of course the Surfin on Heroin LP). Have you heard Chris Houston's version? He's a former bassist and co-writer...

    I probably have everything by them, but I'm curious to see what you will dig up. :) They just released a new live album a couple of months ago too.


  4. I had a friend in University in about the fall of 85 who really wanted someone to go see the Rebels with her, so off we went, although I was into pretty different stuff. It was at a really small club in downtown Toronto, maybe Grossman's? We sat right near the little open space in front of the stage so when some guy got up and tried to mosh a bit he landed right on our table, and took out our round of drinks, and we hadn't the cash to buy another one. My friend got up and danced with him and was proud she got cut by a sheaf of razors he was wearing on the end of a string tied through the epaulette of his leathers. To each their own, I figured. Lame as I know it sounds, I felt proud to have had a tourist experinece of a punk show at the time, as more of a kind of early R.E.M./Guadalcanal Diary sort at the time.

    I did enjoy the band. Part way through their set, the power cut to all the amps and the lights in the place, but the PA was still working for some reason, and the singer did about 15 mins of improv around the old "They're coming to take me away" tune from the 60's, bolstered by weird echo effects that kept everyone going.

    A buddy of mine who runs the best guitar store in town now is the singer for Teenage Head these days, and he got the gig after coming out to alot of jam nights held by their guitarist at a Hamilton club named after this Rebels album.

    Colin H, Cambridge Canada

  5. I rate them the same as I rate Teenage Head. Started out really good (albeit really stupid in the case of the Rebels) but went downhill pretty quickly and pretty severely. That and DeSadist's insistence on being "shocking" all the time didn't help over-much. Being knee-jerk "anti-PC" is just as bad as being knee-jerk "PC". I know they were coming from a 77-punk "let's be so shocking" aesthetic but to me there's not much that's shocking about sounding like a redneck.

    That said this album is great. Same with "In Love With The System" in spite of some of the lyrical content.

  6. Enjoying these stories. :) Colin; There's a recording of the Rebels doing "They're Coming to Take Me Away" on the "Executive Outcomes" CD from a live show around 1980, I think (would have to check the liner notes to verify the date). It almost sounds like they cut the power on purpose to do that. heh.

  7. HA! Probably made for a good refeshments break for the rest of the band. I recall him lying on the stage in the dark doing it, it went on until some rowdies started to heckle. That and S.O.H. were my main memories of the show, as far as the music goes. You;re right about S.O.H., I tracked down the album after the show just to have that, but it never made the leap from vinyl to digital with me until you helped out now.

    Colin H., Cambridge Canada

  8. Technically, the first 'punk' record that I bought with my own money. Must have been 1986. I was in grade nine. All of the punker kids at Governor Simcoe High School in St.Catharines, Ontario were playing tapes of it and I decided to buy the album sometime in October. I think I had to go to Pop Tones in Niagara Falls to buy it. For me, this album (and In Love With the System)was my entry point into accessing the 70's style punk. It would be several months before I would even hear the Sex Pistols The Damned and The Clash. For me, this was the 'key' that opened the door. It was also perhaps the time where I decided that I didn't like bands that were dusted with fascist themes, so I left The Rebels behind almost as quickly as I found them. In retrospect, I am grateful for that key.

  9. Good one! I have "In Love With The System" on vinyl and when I give it a spin, it's always good for a laugh or two. If you don't post it, I might. Wouldn't mind a digitized copy anyways. Thanks for this!

  10. Interesting stories. I believe one of the members ended up working for a TV station down here in Buffalo. They played here a lot while I was out of town.

  11. Brink
    Hope you dig it.

    Lotsa Rebels to come and as for the CH version, my bro-in-law has the original astro-turf version of the LP!

    I`m glad the rebels inspired such a well-told tale. thanks
    And don`t worry we`ll get to some Guadalcanal Diary here soon enough.

    `DeSadist's insistence on being "shocking" all the time didn't help over-much
    I have to agree but I still like all their 80`s output.

    Another well-told Rebels tale.
    `dusted with fascist themes`is not an unfair critique - what is with the Confederate flag them in a Canadian band anyway...

    ILWTS went up today!

    I think at one time Mickey worked in a toaster factory!

  12. Finally! it's about time a decent quality version of this album is posted.

    This is one of the first albums i searched for once my friend taught me how to download, and every version sounded horrible. is this from a CD?

    Bought this album in the early 80's thanks to KALX playing it over and over again.

    Regarding the other LP's some good, some bad, but at least listen to "Little Girl Thrills" off the Surfin On Heroin album, i find it a very catchy song.

  13. Ano
    Glad to have hooked you up with a decent rip!

  14. First saw the band at the Runway in 78/79. The first EP was my entry into the Rebels world. That first EP is the best shit the band ever did. They did do some really good stuff later and finally got to be a " big band" n such. I've seen em a hundred times over the years ( in CA, US and Europe) but the first stuff was the best. Sadly they should give it up as they are ruining the legend that was. Mickeys new band is only a bad version of the 70s-90s Rebels.
    Just one mans opinion but I will always love the Rebels. I for one got the joke and never took myself or them to seriously.

    1. Yeah they've probably gone on too long but it's Mickey's right and, hey, If they come back to Winnipeg I'll go see 'em.


Thanks for clicking the COMMENTS link.
Now that you're here,I should mentions that
without reader feedback blogs slowly wither and die