Punks love scenes. For whatever reason, be it an attempt to establish a certain local uniqueness or just to put out your friends’ bands, there has been a steady tradition of compilations documenting a particular area’s bands at particular moments in time.
Within that subset, the Bay Area has a steady tradition of re-releasing compilations documenting scenes that have passed on. The Thing That Ate Floyd is the most recent re-entry into the fray. Originally compiled in 1988, it chronicled the days when Lookout! Records found it more worthwhile to rail against the corporate media monoculture than to farm its bands off into it.
Of the bands on this compilation, only three survived the intervening fourteen years: Mr. T Experience, No Use for a Name, and Neurosis. All three turn in tracks that are far rawer and less poppy (or more poppy in Neurosis’ case) than the output that would gain them some fame. Then there’s the mediocre Operation Ivy cut for the ska-punk completists (suckers! It’s got nary an upbeat!) and the elsewhere-released Crimpshrine song, not to mention a handful of superstar cameos (Larry Lalonde played in Corrupted Morals, Tre Cool did vocal duties for the Lookouts).
But there are only a handful of unheard gems on Floyd. Most of the songs are typical verse-chorus-verse adolescent snot-punk fillers with endearingly asinine titles like “Life Sucks” and “Straight Edge Song,” although hints of the hooks and harmonies that would later define the East Bay sound are discernible. No, it’s not the quality of the music that makes this worth buying. It’s the weird, nostalgic comfort of retroactive inclusion, of being let inside Gilman on a rainy December in the waning Reagan years, that makes this two-CD set worth the price of admission.