THE HANGMEN (Lost Rocks - Best Of The Hangmen) CD
This tasteful compilation (released by Acetate Records in 2011) offers the possibilty to get a taste of what THE HANGMEN did record between 2000 and 2007. More specifically, 'Lost Rocks' contains 15 songs that have been chosen from the following albums: 'Metallic I.O.U.', 'We've Got Blood On The Toes Of Our Boots', 'Loteria' as well as 'In The City'. Added to this are three previously unreleased demo tracks from 1985 - 1986. As you can see, THE HANGMEN are no newcomers and they have made a name for themselves as a dark, hard edged rock 'n' roll band over the decades.
Therefore, it is no surprise that people such as Rob Younger (Radio Birdman, The New Christs, New Race), Keith Morris (Black Flag, Circle Jerks, OFF!) and Chris D. (The Flesh Eaters, Divine Horsemen) express their love for THE HANGMEN with words in the booklet of 'Lost Rocks'. But actually, the prominent support is not mandatory, because the great songs speak for themselves.
Although rock 'n' roll is the main component of their music, THE HANGMEN have incorporated more influences like punk, country, blues and 1960's rock. The resulting songs are full of piss and vinegar, but there is also room for melancholy and longing. Especially the snotty yet soulful vocals of guitarist Bryan Small always manage to capture a lot of emotions. Whenever I listen to 'Lost Rocks', I feel like I'm walking through a rainy, deserted city in the middle of the night. Sometimes it's a large city and sometimes a western town, depending on how much country rock is in the songs. In moments such as these, THE HANGMEN has several things in common with Social Distortion, which is not only because Mike Ness is the co-writer of the song 'Train'. But in a direct comparison, I will give preference to THE HANGMEN because they rock harder and they have got a heavier sound.
But there is much more to discover here; 'Rotten Sunday' is a wonderful 1960's inspired anthem that I could not get out of my head since I've heard it for the first time. 'I Wanna Be Loved' has convinced me with its itense Stooges-meets-The Heartbreakers vibe, while 'I Luv U' contains some fine slide guitar and shows that THE HANGMEN are also a strong live band. It's one of the most sentimental tracks on this compilation, but fortunately THE HANGMEN do not get lost in kitsch.
It is also worth listening to the demo songs, of whom I especially like 'Water Down Below'. It demonstrates great similarities with 'Can't Seem To Make You Mine' from The Seeds. I've no idea if that was intended or if it has happened accidentally but, as we know, it's part of rock 'n' roll history to borrow a riff or more from another band/musician, so it doesn't bother me. All things considered, this compilation makes a varied and rich collection of passionate songs, which provides an overview of THE HANGMEN for people that have never heard of this genuine Los Angeles band.