CD Review: Pistol Whip “Terminal”

In the late seventies, Erie, Pennsylvania was home to one of the earliest punk bands in the Northeastern part of the United States- Pistol Whip. In fact, this band was responsible for helping to create the “f—k you” attitude that many later punk bands would replicate. And Pistol Whip also was one of the first bands that became known for trashing dressing rooms and rock clubs alike.

But aside from the stage antics and attitude exuded by the members of the group, it was the music that made Pistol Whip PISTOL WHIP. And about twenty years after the initial breakup of the band, Smog Veil Records unearthed the music of this talented band whose music was somewhere between the later form of Glam Rock and early Punk.

After being in existence for a few months and trying to decide on a sound, style, and look, Pistol Whip decided that the early English punk bands were whom they wanted to idolize. When the band had the perfect sound and the right look, they created a two-song release that featured the tracks “Heart Throb” and “Untouchables”. With this single release, the band started creating a following along with a lot of noise, professionally as well as musically.

With a single to promote, Pistol Whip went out on the road and started creating the path of destruction that they would later be associated with. But while on the road, vocalist Willie Cotter, organist/vocalist John Drumm, guitarist Rick DiBello, bassist Jim DeMonte, and Rick Madura let the road influence the band’s music, and after a short while, a new release had to be recorded to capture this new direction the band’s music had taken. A total of ten songs were recorded but the band didn’t last much longer after recording those tracks.

Then in 2009, Smog Veil Records compiled the recorded tracks from this band and created one CD of music entitled Terminal. It is on this release that today’s audience can get to know what people in the late seventies already knew- Pistol Whip rocked!

One of the best things about the new CD/DVD package of Terminal by Pistol Whip is actually the second disc of the set. While it is great to hear what the band was like, it is even better to see the band on stage where you get to experience some of the mayhem that made many club owners, critics and fans alike wince at the mere mention of the band.

The DVD allows owner of the package to relive some of the live antics the band was known for. While the band was short-lived, they were caught on tape live at the 1978 Art Festival. This video was shot only a little while before the band decided to end the band, as most of the members wanted to go onto other projects. The DVD also contains video shot at the 1988 and 2009 reunions for the band.

Another part of the DVD is a section called Tall Tales. This section features snippets of articles about Pistol Whip at or near the end of the first life of the band, before members would reunite. The section also includes photographs of the band during the time of the band’s existence. Tall Tales features the voices of several members of the group as they tell of some of their legendary antics in their own words. If you like behind-the-scenes features on DVDs, this section of the package is definitely something to check out.

For someone who never experienced the band at the time they were around, this release gives you enough information to get a good idea of what the band was about. If you had to sum up Smog Veil Records’ two-disc set of Pistol Whip entitled Terminal in only a few sentences, I think a quote from the band included in the Tall Tales section of the DVD is pretty much all you need to know: “They expected a rock band. But we gave ‘em more than a rock band; we gave ‘em Pistol Whip”.

To find out more about the band, go to the band’s website at www.pistolwhiperie.com.