Holy hell! Fleurs du Mal by the Viletones is finally on vinyl

This is the unsung opus by one of punk rock’s most dangerous bands.

It’s finally here! Fleurs du Mal, the unsung opus by one of punk rock’s most dangerous bands, the Viletones, finally gets its well deserved place, forever burned into virgin vinyl for the first time.

Oddly enough, it’s a yank label, Artifix Records down Californi-a way, that finally got the rights to press up this Canadian punk classic. True that da ‘tones did leave two completely snotty, young and loud seven-inches in their wake, but it’s this live to two-track recording that really showed all the teeth-gnashing white heat that these Toronto punks could generate. All 17 songs are first-take stormers with warts and all, but the record hits like a fistful of nickels. 

In our Lord’s punk year of the spring of nineteen seventy fucking seven, these acne-ridden and bottle-slashing warriors entered a mild-mannered studio in Toronto and scorched the earth with absolutely killer punker lashings including the ultimate punk rock song of all time “Screamin’ Fist,” which rightfully starts off this set. With a pummelling bass that dares to overshadow “Ace of Spades,” things just ratchet up from there. Like any tried and true punk killer, the song barely makes it to a second chord as poster pin-up punker Steven Leckie (will not glorify his “punk” moniker at the time here) screams as if heading up a gang fight. If you have even a slight passing fancy for dangerous and raw rock ’n’ roll, you need to get online, punch in “Screaming Fist” and hold on for dear life.

To say that this collection of 17 blasters is about as good as punk rock ever got would be completely accurate BUT before I give Leckie and company the royal reach-around here, this ain’t all peaches and cream. First of all, this barnstormer collection was previously released on CD in 1994 under the title Taste of Honey, which, quite frankly, is sonically superior to its recent vinyl counterpart. Mastered by none other than Chris Spedding and released with first-wave punk reissue label Other People’s Music, the highs are a little bit more crisp, the lows dig a little deeper and the general punch just inflicts more damage.

Also, you can still find copies of Taste of Honey on Discogs for about the same amount of scratch as Fleurs du Mal. Don’t get me wrong as I am definitely a vinyl guy and think CDs are reserved for shut-ins that use Canadian flags for drapes and milk crates for drawers, but after A/B-ing between the two, I’ll be reaching for the CD from now on. With a bit of digging, I did find out that Fleurs du Mal was mastered from a safety copy while Taste of Honey sounds like it was directly from the master tape. 

Now that I’ve pissed on this punker parade, I will admit I am still stoked to have this nugget on vinyl, along with amazing packaging with an insert that easily overshadows the graphically thrown together ’94 CD. Obviously overseen by Leckie, it features about 30 pictures of the lead singer in punk poses while only about three pics of members and chief songwriters Freddy Pompeii, Chris Haight while drummer Motor X is almost blotted from the Viletones legacy. What is really going to make this sell like hot cakes to the unsuspecting punker, though, is the front cover featuring a picture of Leckie swinging a chain in the middle of the dancefloor while unsuspecting gawkers clambered to get out of the man’s way. Totally punk, Duder.

Current Obsession: The Viletones, Fleurs du Mal

This column was originally published in the February issue of Cult MTL.

For more about the Viletones Fleurs du Mal re-release, please visit the Artflix Records website.

See previous editions of Hammer of the Mods here.