Independent Project Records is proud to present a priceless jewel documenting pioneering post-punk band Savage Republic's early days with Africa Corps Live at The Whisky A-Go-Go December 30th 1981, a "lost" live recording making it's debut in 2022.
The 40th anniversary of Savage Republic’s seismic debut LP Tragic Figures is certainly cause for celebration and after working closely with Real Gone Music on the recently released expanded reissue of that album, Independent Project Records is proud to present a priceless jewel documenting the group’s early days. Ever wondered about what seeing a blossoming Savage Republic up close must have felt like? Africa Corps Live at The Whisky A-Go-Go December 30th 1981 is here to take us right there, fiercely catapulting listeners in front of one of L.A.’s most iconic stages, back when a young band of UCLA students (Bruce Licher, Mark Erskine, Philip Drucker and Jeff Long), by then still called Africa Corps, was starting to make its way in the punk underground.
Their extraordinary first time at the Whisky was recorded on cassette on December 30th 1981, a momentous night when soon-to-be Savage Republic had been invited to open for Orange County hardcore-turned-post punk outfit Middle Class along with fellow L.A. post punk journeymen Afterimage (it was probably the friendship among band members that made it all happen) and Long Beach-based synth punks Outer Circle. We’re lucky enough to witness most of the future Tragic Figures tracks in a process of highly creative gestation, in the middle of being developed.
The original tape has now been remastered by Warren DeFever (His Name Is Alive) and unearths a most cathartic performance. It’s hard to fathom, but the four musicians had only been playing together for about eight months at that point, mostly rehearsing in the concrete parking garages at UCLA. Those formative experiences are brilliantly reflected in the sound of Africa Corps Live at The Whisky A-Go-Go December 30th 1981, with its hypnotic blend of industrial and piercing post punk. But the live album is also a powerful reminder of Savage Republic’s flair for containing multitudes: those hardcore inclinations, so of their time they now sound timeless, are unexpectedly intertwined with a kaleidoscopic love of sound that still makes the band stand out from the rest of their contemporaries. Here, the hardcore and the arty are perfectly intertwined; the band emerges as one of the most politically engaged (and lucid) entities of the L.A. underground, while simultaneously reclaiming a love of styles and influences that might have seemed long forgotten by then (Eastern music being the most prominent one). The four-piece appears to be at once trailblazing, sounding like no other band before or since, and eager to dig up its rich, often surprising lineage (they were embodying '60s California’s all-embracing curiosity better than most neo-psychedelic bands). In different hands this amalgamation of punk, industrial, art rock, psychedelia, Eastern sounds, avant-garde, no wave, surf and minimalism would have eventually proved contrived, pretentious, or at least confusing. But this is Savage Republic we’re talking about, and as the loud Whisky crowd - regulars mixing with friends, art school students mixing with tough punks - seems to suggest, it worked, as if by magic. And as if by magic, it still does.
Africa Corps Live at The Whisky A-Go-Go December 30th 1981 is available digitally and in two different CD versions. This numbered and limited Special Edition CD features the iconic hand-letterpress printed oversized die cut pocket folder packaging designed and created by Bruce Licher at his Independent Project Press, and includes a 4-panel insert with story of the band and gig by Camilla Aisa, plus mini-sized reproductions of the 4 different original flyers produced by each of the bands performing on the bill that night. IPR is also producing a “commercial” edition of the CD packaged in a normal-sized 6-panel cardboard wallet folder with additional insert.