The American in Me Album

The American in Me  is a compilation album by the Avengers.  It was released on April 20, 2004 on DBK Works.  The album is composed of four studio recordings from 1978 and a live concert recorded at the Old Waldorf in San Francisco, CA on June 13, 1979.  The concert was previously released on Zero Hour one year earlier.  (More from Wikipedia)
The Avengers album that I have, The American in Me features four tracks that were produced by Steve Jones of Sex Pistols in late 1978.  The remainder of the CD is a June 1979 concert at the Old Waldorf in San Francisco, within days of the final break-up of the band.  Greg Ingraham had left the band when this music was made; he was replaced by Brad Kent (also known as Brad C--t, and formerly in Victorian Pork, D.O.A. and other important Canadian punk rock bands). 
Greil Marcus wrote the glowing and lyrical liner notes for The American in Me; they start off:  “In 1977, ‘The American in Me’ was the torn flag flown by the Avengers.  Singer and writer Penelope Houston, guitarist Greg Ingraham, bassist James Wilsey, and drummer Danny Furious made up the best punk band in San Francisco, at moments the best in the country – and what they were claiming in ‘The American in Me’ was the country itself:  the country that the Avengers’ songs said didn’t want them, didn’t recognize them, didn’t hear them, wouldn’t listen.  They left themselves no room for irony. 
“‘We Are the One’, they announced; ‘What is “the One”?’ the song makes you ask.  ‘I am the one who brings you the future,’  [Penelope] Houston chants to end it.  ‘I am the one who buries the past’.  Everything about the thing sounds ridiculous, especially the glee you can hear in the band’s voices, the Oh-my-God-we-are-actually-pulling-this-off thrill of saying what you want to say right out loud, where everyone can hear you, free speech like the Batman signal in the sky, or a rock through the window that separates the true from the false.  Everything sounds ridiculous – except what the song actually sounds like, and the frightening conviction backing up every word.  No matter how sarcastic Houston was on stage, taunting the crowd between numbers, the songs said the Avengers meant exactly what they said or they meant nothing.  The American in Me could not be a joke.” 
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After I ordered one of Penelope Houston’s albums, The Pale Green Girl, I was struck by how strong the music was, how of a piece it was with the Avengers material.  Even though the guitars are muted, calling her solo albums “folk music”, as many rock critics do, does her a disservice if you ask me; she is more PJ Harvey than Judy Collins.  I wrote her a note and told her so, I think when I ordered The American in Me.  She thanked me in a short note and then wrote:  “I guess you can take the girl out of the punk band, but you can’t take the punk band out of the girl.”  She signed it “P”, and put a star at the top.  That handwritten note from Penelope Houston made with a Sharpie is one of the items that I miss most from what we lost in Hurricane Katrina
'(March 2017)
Last edited: March 22, 2021