The Plugz – Electrify Me

The Plugz – Electrify Me (Plugz Records) 1979. One of my favourite bands ever were The Plugz. They were part of the first wave of the LA punk rock scene. Back in the 1980′s The Plugz, along with most of the Dangerhouse roster and The Flesheaters, were regarded with almost mythic status by my friends and I. We never saw their records. We never heard these records and unless we wanted to pay some ridiculous cost to some collector dork in the back of MRR, we never would hear them.

The one thing we did though, was hear about them. Bands like The Plugz were referenced in interviews. They were talked about by the older punkers who remembered them. They were endorsed by bands we liked.

In fact, my first exposure to The Plugz was in an episode of New Wave Theatre where Keith Morris himself, introduces them. Now to a hardcore kid circa 83, what better fuckin’ endorsement could you possibly have?

The song The Plugz did on New Wave Theatre was much more indicative of the more polished rock sound of their second album “Better Luck”. It was a great LA-type song entitled “Hey Elizabeth” Regardless, I still wanted to hear the punk stuff!!!

I next heard The Plugz on the Repo Man soundtrack where they did an amazing version of “Secret Agent Man” in Spanish entitled “Hombre Secretor” It actually sounds better in Spanish and I love the original. But alas…later Plugz again.

So, finally in the early 1990′s, I got to hear their first album from 1979 which was entitled Electrify Me. It was re-released on Restless Records for a very short time. Imagine my surprise when I found it in a cutout bin. It instantly became one of my favourite albums ever and I have played it at least a million times since that fateful day.

An early version of The Plugz with Joe Nanini courtesy of Break My Face

One of the factors that contributes to the overall unique-ness of The Plugz is that they were from East LA instead of Hollywood. The main man behind the band was Tito Larriva and he definitely added a Los Angelino element to the sound. It is more upbeat and celebratory than a lot of punk LPs at the time. On “Let Go” for instance, Tito and the band reference a lot of old school dances like the Freddy, the Watusi and the Peppermint Twist in the middle of the song. If you are looking for something super-hardcore this ain’t it. If you are looking for something to play at a party…look no further.

It’s hard to believe now, but in the late 1970′s the LA punk scene was disregarded by a lot of hipper-than-thou types In NYC and elsewhere as being a rip-off of the British Scene. This of course, was completely untrue. Avoid hipper-than-thou types at all costs.

Classic LA Punk Photo courtesy of Alice Bag

Think about it….bands like The Bags and The Dickies were clearly influenced by the more cartoonish and slapstick elements of the entertainment industry, which is certainly part of the local LA culture. Bands like The Flesheaters and X were informed by wild western mythology as well as the secret, hidden (at the time) subcultures of the 1950s…all parts of the LA myth. Bands like the Crowd were inspired by the beach and surf culture. It goes on and on. All of these influences combined to create a very unique scene. In fact, the LA punk scene was the most removed from hippie subculture of any US scene in the 1970s. This is why LA was set to be the birthplace of hardcore…There was no hippie residue. it was already ground zero.

So anyway, I digress…

The Plugz were influenced by the sights and sounds of East LA. It informed their music and made it all the more unique. You can hear it obviously in The Plugz cover of “La Bamba” but if you listen closely you can feel it running thru the whole album.

So bring this over to the next BBQ you attend. Play it at full volume. If any hipper-than-thou type starts being an ass…smack em for me, will ya? Remember, we’re not lost…we’re just desperate…

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20 Responses to The Plugz – Electrify Me

  1. MRow says:

    There was no hippie residue

    Except in GREG GINN’s brain, just waiting to burst out over all them little HC kiddies come ’84

  2. danny says:

    Great post – just to clarify even though the Zeros were 3/4 Latino, they weren’t from East LA – in fact they weren’t from LA – they were from San Diego… Chula Vista to be exact. They moved to SF toward the end of their career.

  3. Joe Stumble says:

    Yeah you’re right Danny. I knew that too…I removed it.

    MROW – man no doubt. So the LA PUNKS were the least hippie of them all, and they begat hardcore. Hardcore was symbolized by Black Flag more than any other band. The guitarist for Black Flag was a closet hippie who then was responsible for Tom Trocollis Dog and The October Faction.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Their finest moment was appearing on the soundtrack of New Wave Hookers.

  5. Dgrador says:

    Thanks so much for this. I discovered the Plugz via Repo Man and the first Cruzados LP

    Cheers!

  6. Peter Davis says:

    Great post. Classic album by a truly seminal act. Near flawless album with nary an un-listenable track upon it.

  7. tumors ela says:

    for the record, the plugz were not from east los, either. although indeed latinos (well, 2/3 of the at least), they were aligned with the hollywood scene, not the east l.a. scene (which spawned bands like the stains, thee undertakers, los illegals, the brat, the warriors and many others), and if memory serves, both chalo and tito were originally from el paso. if you want more info on east l.a. punk, allow me to direct you to an updated version of a piece i wrote for razorcake some years ago that the exceedingly cool peter don’t care recently reposted on his site:

    http://www.geocities.com/punkscenes/eastla.html

    enjoy.

  8. Roberto says:

    i’m new on the net and while surfing i’ve found this gre at lp that i owed many years ago…thanks a lot a great pleasure to listen

  9. chris g says:

    their live split with X is even better

  10. danny avila says says:

    I was there at that time. I was an 18 year old kid from Long Beach that borrowed Mom`s car to attend the benefit for the mask. I think it was `78. Being Chicano I had purchased the Zeros single “Don`t push me around”…but saw the Plugz numerous times at the Starwood…spoke to both the drummer Charlie and guitarist Tito…they were one of the tightest little three peice bands back then…the other being the Alleycats…the Hollywood Punk Scene will never be forgotten by those of us lucky enough to be a part of it…Yes, I`ll be fifty years old this year and I don`t regret one minute of it.

  11. Joe says:

    Fuckin’ A Danny! Thanks for writing in!

  12. Catrina says:

    Does anyone know how I can find the Electrify Me album? I can’t seem to find it anywhere other than Amazon which are charging an absolute fortune!

  13. chris g says:

    Joe, i was reading the compiled Search & Destroy zine paperback today (which is the size of a canvas) and came across a fantastic Plugz interview.
    it’s real in depth stuff, they al detail their origins, some family history, an account of a student massacre in mexico, teach you about pachucos, and rip on whitey
    did you know they were all trained mimes?!

    anywho, i thought i’d hip you on that shit, probably reasonably priced on amazon, or better yet, scanned!

  14. Joe says:

    Funny thing is Chris, I have the old newspaper versions of Search and Destroy. I just didnt think to look at them for Plugz info because I think of them as San Francisco related, but they did cover a lot of LA bands now that I think about it.

  15. Al says:

    I was wondering if anyone new how much these albums go for.
    And where i could get them.

  16. Nancy B says:

    Hey Danny Avila!!!!! Get in touch!! I was there along with you…for a while anyway. :-)
    I still have this album that you bought me a few decades (gasp!) ago.

  17. chris g says:

    needs to be re-upped
    for the children!

  18. Jonh Ingham says:

    I worked with The Plugz for awhile around 81-82. It was a great time – they were an amazing band live and Charlie was (is) one of the best drummers I’ve ever heard. He was bored if he wasn’t playing in three bands at the same time, which led to the surreal period when he was working for the Plugz, a reggae band, and backing Bob Dylan. He appeared on Letterman with Dylan so maybe there’s a YT clip.

    Thanks for putting this album up – still sounds amazing.

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