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Blast From the Past: The Panics - S/T 7"

The Panics
S/T 7"
(Superdisc Records)

Here's a band from the Fort Myers area that shatters the idea of easy, Gulf Coast living. While little known outside of the KBD and Florida scenes, this EP is the first of three 7-inchers they would release before a full-length effort materialized in the 80's. While they might look like some weird cross between the Jam and any nameless New Romantic outfit, their execution is closer to the creeping sounds of the Cramps blended with late '70s British punk, '60s garage punk, 80's excess and the artistic savvy of Wire.

Singer Spencer Eldridge has a solid voice that fluctuates with the promise of potential evil while Jason Slaughter's guitar work paces the tracks with some serious, almost rockabilly twang. Drummer Jim Becker keeps it all together and it is my understanding that he currently leads a career as a newscaster in the Fort Myers market.

Hailing out of 1979, this two-song EP is an interesting exercise in the beauty of Florida's punk rock scene. While there are some influences like the aforementioned blend, there is something great about how this band comes together on tape that can only be described as purely Floridian. "Kill it (Before it Multiplies)" is a creepy number, aided by some Deliverance-like riffs, Eldridge's maniacal vocals and a subject matter you might not necessarily expect from people living so close to beautiful waters. This ain't shorts and flip-flops, this is dark suits and switchblades.

Even more interesting is their choice for the flip, an excellent cover of Burt Bacharach's "My Little Red Book" that foreshadows his work with Elvis Costello and is even that more poignant in the fact that it sounds like the treatment you would've expected Costello to have given the track during his Attractions days. Creepy! But there it is, that's what makes this 7" so Floridian, so non-conformist within the "non- conformism" of punk rock.

Released on Superdisc Records, this platter was engineered by Gary Gladstone and is something Ft. Myers rockers can be proud of. We'll examine their other releases within these pages in the future. In the meantime enjoy an MP3 of "Kill it (Before it Multiplies)." Good stuff.

MP3: The Panics - "Kill it (Before it Multiplies)"