I don’t know much about The Bizarros beyond the fact they had one of the standout tunes on Stiff’s compilation of bands from Akron, Ohio.
Their contribution, Nova, sounded like Lou Reed fronting The Stooges. But a lot of bands went for that sound in 1978, even if few did it better.
And although Devo became more famous, it was The Bizarros who became the first Akron band signed to a national record deal.
Formed by Nick Nicholis in late 1976 when he was studying at the University of Akron, The Bizarros soon signed to Blank Records, a subsidiary of Mercury founded by local music talent scout Cliff Burnstein – mainly in order to sign Pere Ubu.
The group, made up of Nicholis and three school friends – Terry Walker and brothers Don and Jerry Parkins, plus drummer Rick Garberson – didn’t release the band’s debut album until 1979 but by then Nicholis had left uni, started teaching, and set up his own label – Clone Records – to put out a handful of discs by his own band.
Clone also issued records by other Ohio acts like The Waitresses, Tin Huey, The Rubber City Rebels and Human Switchboard, creating a buzz that brought Robert Christgao from Rolling Stone to the self-styled Rubber Capital of the World, followed by NME and Sounds.
For me, this, the title track from their first EP in 1976, is their best song, demonstrating the city’s signature DIY sound before everyone jumped wholeheartedly onto the punk bandwagon.
With its funky bass groove, subterranean squalls of guitar and a Stooges-style solo worthy of James Williamson, it’s just fantastic to my ears.
The Bizarros broke up in 1982 without ever making a name for themselves, but reformed briefly in 1996, and 2002… and still didn’t.
Such is life for some of the best bands out there, though I believe they are still out there doing their thing.