Like many great punk bands, Catholic Discipline came and went in the blink of an eye. The band debuted in the Fall of 1979 and was kaput by the Spring of 1980. An L.A. punk super group of sorts, Catholic Discipline included the talents of Craig Lee (the Bags), Robert Lopez (the Zeros), Phranc (Castration Squad) and the slithering, brooding vocal stylings of French ex-pat Claude Bessy.
Bessy was also a cofounder and guiding editorial light behind pioneering LA punk zine Slash. For those of us who couldn't be there in person, the only document we've had up until now is the band's unforgettable appearance in Penelope Spheeris' seminal LA punk documentary "The Decline of Western Civilization" (1981). In one of the film's most memorable moments, Bessy -- older and more articulate than the other besotted punk luminaries in the film -- explains his stylistic motivations when it comes to writing and, no doubt, performing: "The intent is to piss off people that I really hate, and I want to see them dead, and I really despise everything they stand for, every word they say, the way they live, and I really want them to hate me. It makes me feel good." It doesn’t get any punker than that, folks.
Only two Catholic Discipline songs are featured in the film: "Barbee Doll Lust," a darkly humorous portrait of a pervert’s plastic pocket pal, and the jaw-dropping "Underground Babylon," an apocalyptic paean to urban decay. Black Flag, Circle Jerks, X, Fear and the Germs are also heard on the soundtrack, but Catholic Discipline is one of the movie's most precious gems. Until recently, the only way you could hear them on vinyl was the sole performance included on the "Decline" soundtrack, but thanks to Artifix Records a whole slew of unearthed Catholic Discipline material is now available.
Pressed on pink vinyl, the platter features performances culled from several live shows at the Hong Kong Cafe and Anti-Club between October 1979 and January 1980. The sound, as would be expected considering the age and crudity of the source material, is awful -- an affliction that mars just about any live punk record you can think of. But after waiting and hoping for almost 20 years, I can't complain in any way, shape or form about the opportunity to hear 13 new tunes by one of L.A.'s most unsung heroes.
Before rushing out to buy your very own copy (hurry, the first pressing numbers only 1,000), take a listen to "Barbee Doll Lust" above and to the left.