Review by Ryan Leach.
Like Rocket From the Tombs, The Consumers didn't last long. The band released no material in its roughly eighteen-month lifespan. And if it weren't for All My Friends Are Dead, The Consumers likely would've been forgotten.
The Consumers formed in Phoenix, Arizona in 1977. The group's lineup was built around David Wiley (vocals), Paul Cutler (lead guitar) and Mikey Borens (bass); Greg Jones played rhythm guitar and "Jim" played drums (the band had a revolving door of drummers). The band was volatile; shows in Phoenix were halted abruptly or ended in scuffles (hard to imagine but punk really pissed people off thirty years ago). In late 1977 The Consumers recorded an eight-track demo with Joey Dears, a high school pal of guitarist Paul Cutler. In early '78 The Consumers made the logical choice of relocating to Los Angeles where they shared bills at The Masque with X, The Alley Cats and The Dils. By late 1978 they were done.
In 1995 Larry Hardy, head honcho of In The Red Records, put out All My Friends Are Dead -- the eleven tracks The Consumers recorded with Joey Dears back in '77. (Hardy was a fan of 45 Grave and heard the tracks on a bootleg back in '81 while hanging out at Dinah Cancer's house.) In 2001 the tracks were reissued on CD. With eBay prices hovering around the fifty dollar mark, Larry Hardy thankfully reissued All My Friends Are Dead again on vinyl in 2012.
As a historical footnote, All My Friends Are Dead would've been an interesting release. What really gets me about All My Friends Are Dead is the quality of the tracks. The songs are absolutely timeless -- they could've been recorded in late '77 or yesterday. The Consumers were an incredible punk band that didn't have to go through the birthpangs of punk rock; the group was erudite, could play and was already aware of Henry Cow and Robert Wyatt -- influences that'd take years for other groups to discover. The fidelity of the tracks is incredible (believe it or not, they were recorded on an eight-recorder in a demo studio). All My Friends Are Dead is distilled anger -- capturing refined, edgy and intuitive rock 'n' roll. There's no way anyone else could've recorded something like this. (When 45 Grave tried to re-record these tracks later on the Autopsy LP, they were lacking.) It's hard to believe that an eleven-track demo that laid dormant for eighteen years would turn out to be a lost gem. Thanks to In The Red, it's available.
After The Consumers, Paul Cutler would go on to form 45 Grave; he later joined the Dream Syndicate, replacing Karl Precoda. David Wiley formed Human Hands. Mikey Borens briefly played guitar for 45 Grave. Unfortunately only Paul Cutler and Mikey Borens are alive today.