In their brief but storied career, Boston's La Peste put out only one official record consisting of just two songs. First released in 1978, right between the golden age of East Coast punk and hardcore’s takeover in the early 1980s, La Peste’s "Better Off Dead" seven-inch was informed equally by raw 60s rock and roll and the dust-clearing first wave of punk in 75-76. Hugely influential to post-punk, new wave, and hardcore punk, this seminal single has a rightful place in the hands of any vinyl junkie with a taste for the harder underground offerings of the late 70s.
The A-Side’s needling intro bridges post punk and surf rock before crashing into a Damned-worthy power chord surge that never lets up or resolves. It’s a perfect sonic balance of CBGB sleaze and proto-hardcore rebellion — well suited to a tale of underage lust and parental disapproval. The B is a moodier, bass-driven cut that forges further out towards punk’s fringe, merging Christian Death’s goth menace to Gang of Four’s righteous throb. "Better Off Dead" captures a regional darling coming into its own. It sounds at once intimidating and scared of its own strength.
The record was released to massive acclaim in 1978 from punk's critical vanguard. Robert Christgau and John Peel both approved. It quickly became a sought-after artifact, and can still fetch three figures at auction, long after the band called it quits. The title track found its way onto a Killed By Death compilation, and the band’s remaining unreleased material populated several posthumous compilations (all now out of print).
But who cares about comps when you can have an original? On April 19, Wharf Cat Records will release an authorized reproduction of La Peste’s lone single, in limited edition and assembled in fastidious detail, right down to the original tip-on sleeve and "Black Records” imprint on the back.
This recording comes directly from the original 1978 Boston reels, with a light-touch polish from Josh Bonati of New York’s Bonati Mastering that serves only to preserve the original sound while cranking the volume. The first 100 records come packaged with a rare photo of the band previously thought lost, but tracked down expressly for this release.
The limited run reissue offers the lost punk classic a chance to be found again, sounding as fresh as ever on vinyl, and presented with an attention to detail that pays tribute to the original artifact.