It must have been the latter half of 1988 when Hawaii’s largest independent music retailer, Jelly’s, in a bid to help foster the local underground music scene, released the No Place to Play compilation. It was a 15 track album – cassette, really – showcasing some of Honolulu’s more notorious punk and indie ensembles of the 1980s.
There were new wave, hardcore and deathrock pioneers The Squids, Sharx and Hypo Depression; wild, raw and uncompromising punk rock troupes like Devil Dog and S.R.O.; such inspired and originative combos as The Vacuum and Oriental Love Ring, and many others. If you were lucky, you also received Your Complete Guide to Hawaii’s Underground, a 20-page directory of bands, which, though not the final word on unsigned acts in Hawaii, stands as a solid resource on many crucial groups of the era and a fine companion to No Place to Play.
Scroll down to download Your Complete Guide to Hawaii’s Underground
By the time the album hit the streets, a number of the scene’s marquee ensembles had either disbanded or left the Islands for the West Coast. Others trudged on faithfully. As to be expected, a new generation of bands — punk, metal, crossover, etc. — began sprouting up in the Islands, many directly influenced by the trailblazing acts featured on No Place to Play.
Currently, sound clips to many of these groups’ works can be found on Dave Carr’s Hawaii 70s-80s Punk Museum, the Web’s preeminent source for subversive sounds of the era. Much thanks must be given to Mr. Carr, producer of No Place to Play and a former member of such exalted acts as Cringer, The Wrong, The Vacuum, etc, for allowing his original copy of Your Complete Guide to Hawaii’s Underground to leave his possession temporarily so that I might share it with you here on B-SideHNL.com.
“I chose the bands based on who I could contact and who had recordings,” recalls Carr of his role as producer. “I don’t remember being paid, but there might have been a small amount. (Jelly’s honcho) Norm Winter paid for all the recordings for bands that were still around at the time and the mastering and publishing. The engineer dude at Fortunate Son studio ran all those sessions and I was at all of them, too. He also mastered the older recordings from reel to reel in the best case and cassette masters in the worst case. It came out pretty good and we had fun doing it.”
A lengthy search through my old tape collection yielded the plastic case and artwork for No Place to Play, but alas, no cassette. I did, however, find my well-worn copy of The Vacuum’s Idyl Forest, which contains “Alien Landscape,” the one Vacuum track that appears on No Place to Play. So enjoy the track above or go to the Hawaii Punk Museum’s No Place to Play page to sample the entire album and relive an influential, long-gone age. Also, feel free to download a copy of Your Complete Guide to Hawaii’s Underground here, again, courtesy of Dave Carr.
— Shawn “Speedy” Lopes