The old saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." For the purposes of the punk rock world, however, the slogan, "If it ain't broke-break it" seems much more appropriate. Such a mindset must have assailed Duane Peters, the singer for California retro-punkers, the U.S. Bombs. With his new project, the Duane Peters Gunfight, and its new album on Peters' own Disaster Records, the raw singer continues on where he left off with Duane Peters and the Hunns. That is to say exploring the aspects of his musical appetite left unsatisfied by his regular gig in the '77-minded Bombs. Like similar excursions by Lars Fredericksen of Rancid, the resulting album is a great little listen, but leaves one wondering why the artist had to venture outside of the confines of his well-known band to make an album of similarly minded, if more extremely executed, material. "The Duane Peters Gunfight", if anything, is a more retro, simplified record and echoes back to the late seventies as much or more than anything he's done in his career.
If the music on this album is fueled by the spirit of a departed Punk Rocker, it's probably Dee Dee Ramone haunting its recesses. The record oozes with sweat, blood, and drugs, and shakes it all off with equal parts raw delivery and melody. While the U.S. Bomb's influences lie clearly across the pond in such bands as Sham 69 and Stiff Little Fingers, Duane Peters Gunfight ultimately feels a little more domestic. The New York Dolls side of the music emerges further without the flamboyance, and early LA Hardcore is lurking around every corner. That sound combined with the grittiness of the band itself lets the listener know that Duane Peters is for real, even without the benefit of some of his famous fans thoughts on him contained within the liner notes. The photo inside portrays Peters in ash-gray tones, looking close to death and the rest of the band looks like they met outside a Village People concert, where they were beating the hell out of the disco heroes and stealing their clothes. It doesn't smack of image-making either, there's no reason to believe that these guys aren't like that all the time.
Great songs like, "War with You" and "Blow my Brains" litter the release like arrowheads on old Indian grounds, and like those arrowheads, these song are sitting there, just waiting to be discovered. Like the U.S. Bombs' records, anger fills the lyrics. Some of it is buried in more whimsical material, like "Gunfighter" and "Last Cowboy", both tales of Old West debauchery and violence, but most tracks go right for the throat of their intended target. "Yer too Sensitive" takes aim with a loaded six-shooter and puts out the eye of Emo bands and lazy rich Americans alike. This isn't "Conscious Punk" so to speak, but it is Punk that's conscious of the absurd garbage that comes along with Punk nowadays. Duane Peters clearly knows that there are no time machines to take us back to '77 when Punk meant something, but he knows enough to keep conjuring the black magic death and destruction that fueled it, so that one day people will remember again.