Sunday, December 2, 2007

Morbid Opera

Morbid Opera were a 4 piece punk band from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The band was made up of 3 women and a man. Two of the women, Lisa and Libby, owned a short-lived vintage clothing store in Wilton Manors (the town where famous jazz bassisit Jaco Pastorius had his head unceremoniously caved in by an over zealous bouncer.) The band obviously had an afinity for a '60s psych sound and look, but the budding Florida punk scene of the early '80s was where they called home. Lisa and Libby hold a very sentimental place for me. They were incredibly smart and stylish and often let me hang out in the store watching TV when I was skipping school. I grew up in Hollywood which sits squarely between Fort Lauderdale and Miami. When there was a big punk show in Miami, Lisa would often stop off in Hollywood on her way to the show and give me a lift. Because of her I saw Die Kreuzen, because of Die Kreuzen I am not my father. The ladies of Morbid Opera sort of acted as impromptu punk rock foster parents to me, even though I was a hyper, over-bearing, know-it-all adolescent. Lisa is married to Jeff Hodapp who was the guitarist of Roach Motel, perhaps Florida's best-known punk band. They have some kids who are grown. Jeff and Lisa still have bands and are probably still the nicest folks on earth. Now about this 7 inch. "Jesus Loves You So Give Us Your Money" was released by the Sublapse label in 1983. The six songs all showcase Morbid Opera's unique jangly, undistorted guitars. Lisa's vocals whine and pout over the mid-tempo garage-inspired tunes. Lyrics deal with depression, bad relationships, and general malaise. This record really demonstrates the diverse and eccentric nature of the Florida punk scene at the time, as Morbid Opera were highly respected and revered even though they were a million miles away from the mohawked tough-guy thrash of other bands. The cornball macho punk band, Amazing Grace, even had a song called "Morbid Opera." I don't think it had anything to do with the band, but obviously something struck a chord with them. Better known national and international bands like Redd Kross, White Flag, and Shonen Knife were all unabashed fans of Morbid Opera and this little record. "Jesus Loves You So Give Us Your Money" and their contribution to the "We Can't Help It If We're From Florida" compilation ep would be Morbid Opera's only publicly released material, but I think there exists an unreleased lp somewhere of later material. I don't know. Recently, Jeff Hodapp contacted me and told me that he and Lisa were planning on coming out to San Francisco (where I live) to visit, that'd be awesome.

Download it here:


Pogel said...

This one I do own already, but great background on the band, much better than my usual "here's a record". This one I do own already.

Anonymous said...

Some more info on M.O.:
The drummer was Carmen. I believe she moved to California. During some shows, Charlie Pickett would also play guitar with them. Interesting postscript: I was one of their "groupies" back in the day. I went to all their gigs back at Flynn's and would let me record their shows in a portable tape deck. I still own those tapes!
I was present when they recorded this EP. Don't remember much b/c we shared some awful whiskey that practically blacked me out. It was awesome to hang with Morbid Opera.
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