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School Punks
Brownsville Station

Big Tree BT 89500
Released: May 1974
Chart Peak: #170
Weeks Charted: 8

This is an important album. It's a good album, too, but even if it were terrible, it would still be important. The charts and radios are saturated with 35-year-old introverts perpetrating their palsied poesy, middle-aged traumas, and mature celebrations of sunshiny days, mountain streams and other paralytic pleasures. And right in the middle of this unprecedented maturity comes Brownsville Station, with the definite goal of returning rock to its rightful, but disinherited, audience -- high school kids, teenagers.

Their songs deal specifically with the prime concerns of high school life -- the pursuit of the opposite sex, partying, villainous cops, the secret hallway rendezvous. Their Top Five hit, "Smokin' in the Boys' Room" (on their last album), was the opening shot of the campaign, and virtually everything on School Punks follows suit. In the wrong hands, such school-days' material could easily sound trite and hopelessly affected. But Brownsville Station possesses a single-minded simplistic sincerity that makes it all work. Sure, it's all very self-conscious, but their espousal of the teenage cause stems from an honest conviction that rock & roll should be aimed that way.

Brownsville Station - School Punks
Original album advertising art.
Click image for larger view.
Musically Brownsville recycles a lot of sturdy blues and Chuck Berry riffs in Seventies form, and though they could be a bit stronger on melody, it all rocks with a vengeance. "Meet Me on the 4th Floor" and "I Got It Bad for You" are hard-edged standouts, while the slightly softer "Fast Phyllis" is probably the record's most appealing track. They've got good taste in cover material too. They sledgehammer through two of Slim Harpo's greatest, "I've Got Love if You Want It" and "I'm a King Bee," and do likewise for Dee Clark's "Hey Little Girl." The current single, Gary Glitter's recent "I'm the Leader of the Gang," makes for an admirable "Boys' Room" followup. But the best cover is the Equals' "I Get So Excited," a relentless raver if I've ever heard one.

Further reading on
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Brownsville Station Lyrics

Brownsville Station Videos

Brownsville Station has built up a fanatic following over the last five years, and with their recent hit and this album their time may be here. School Punks is a humorous and well-realized attempt to redirect modern rock back to the teenage mainstream.

- Ken Barnes, Rolling Stone, 8/1/74.

Bonus Review!

Set of straight rock from this trio, without the slightest pretensions at anything but rock. Rough lead vocals, guitar-bass-drum combination and a group of short, easy to remember songs may not be the ultimate in sophistication but they are tailor made for AM play and a lot more FM stations are programming this basically goodtime music. Best cuts are the most basic, often the ones with the title repeated time and again throughout song. A genuinely fun LP. Best cuts: "Kings Of The Party," "I Get So Excited," "I'm The Leader Of The Gang."

- Billboard, 1974.

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