The Bags | Sharpen Your Sticks

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Rock: Hard Rock Rock: Punk Moods: Featuring Guitar
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Sharpen Your Sticks

by The Bags

CAVEMEN REJOICE. Reunited Boston rockers The Bags deliver 15 tracks of meaty hard rock/punk guaranteed to leave a pleasant ringing sensation in both ears.
Genre: Rock: Hard Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Bucket of Blood
2:12 $0.99
2. Believer
1:31 $0.99
3. Babbling Cadaver
2:49 $0.99
4. Here Come The Creeps
1:53 $0.99
5. Want It All
1:37 $0.99
6. Cavemen Rejoice
3:33 $0.99
7. The Footprint
2:32 $0.99
8. Thank You
2:15 $0.99
9. Ivan The Terrible
2:31 $0.99
10. Unbelievably Cool
2:16 $0.99
11. Me Dumb
2:30 $0.99
12. Ass Kicker
2:02 $0.99
13. Gargoyle
2:51 $0.99
14. Unlock The Cage
3:29 $0.99
15. Anemone
2:09 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
The Boston Phoenix says:

"Along with Bullet LaVolta, the Bags are the band most often credited (or blamed, in some circles) for introducing punk metal to Boston. Which means that they don’t have to worry too much about their sound having gone out of style since they last rocked. In fact, to a large extent, the new CD picks up where 1991’s Night of the Corn People left off. There is a key difference, though: the CD of Corn People had 13 songs and ran 69 minutes. (Granted, one of those songs was "Waiting for Maloney," the first and only lengthy rock opera about commuting from Allston to rehearse.) The new disc serves up 15 songs in 36 minutes: the sound is still metallic, but the songs are all punchy and punky. Meanwhile, the lyrics from Wood and Hardy amount to a puncturing of metal’s ponderous tendencies. Imagine the post-therapy self-loathing of Metallica’s St. Anger played for laughs and you’d have the Bags’ "Believer" or "Ass Kicker" ("You’re gonna kick my ass, that I do know — Kung Foe"). So forget about this being just a respectable comeback and call it the Bags’ best album. Period." -Brett Milano

"Cavemen Rejoice" - from Sharpen Your Sticks - is featured in the hit PlayStation 2 video game Guitar Hero.

Jon Hardy, Jim Janota, and Crispin Wood formed The Bags in the summer of 1985. They unleashed their unique blend of hard rock and punk on the Boston club scene in September of that year.

In 1987 they recorded and released their debut album Rock Starve. Charles M. Young wrote about Rock Starve in Playboy (March, 1988): "The Bags (from Boston) fall somewhere among the Ramones, Husker Du, and early Kiss. Their debut, Rock Starve (Restless), consists of thrilling guitar-bash riffs that pound like the sound of a herd of giant woolly mammoths going over a cliff, just enough melody rasping though shredded vocal chords and lyrics wholly unbesmirched by any panty-waist college-poetry influence."

The Bags toured the U.S. in 1988.

In 1989, The Bags released their first single on Stanton Park (I Know / Hide And Seek). They also took top honors by unanimous vote, winning the 11th Annual WBCN Rock 'n' Roll Rumble. Later on that year they released an album on Stanton Park under one of their many aliases, Swamp Oaf. Byron Coley wrote about Swamp Oaf in Spin (February 1990): "This Boston trio (perhaps best known for their non-thug work under the name the Bags) have a sense of compositional burl most redolent of early/mid period Blue Cheer. The guitar quick-switches between ass-puddle wah-boom and overblown zorch-flash with Leigh Stevens-oid flair, and these guys don't get even close to the Zep cliche path most of their "peers" are treading.

In 1990 The Bags released their eponymous LP The Bags, again on Stanton Park. David Fricke wrote about The Bags in the 1990 Yearbook edition of Rolling Stone: "With the grade-A snarl and swagger of their self-titled second album, the Boston raunchers the Bags (Stanton Park LP) are shoo-ins for Kings of Garageland 1990. At their best, the Bags rip it up like the Meat Puppets-meet-Motorhead, a marriage surely made in bar-band heaven."

In 1991 the band released two singles - one for Stanton Park (L. Frank Baum / Max Roach), the other for Italian label Helter Skelter (Dr. Lb. / Frilly Underwear). At the end of the year, after six and a half years of playing together, The Bags celebrated the release of their album Night of the Corn People (Stanton Park / Helter Skelter) by breaking up. The Bags left behind a large following and a reputation as a killer live band.

The Bags reunited once in 1996, headlining the Pipeline! Live Boston Rock on WMBR CD release party downstairs at the Middle East in Cambridge. Brett Milano said of the show in the Boston Phoenix (April 4 - 11, 1996): "In the end, however, the weekend belonged to one band. The Bags were one of six groups DuBrow approached for reunion sets (the others were the Zulus, the Cavedogs, Orangutang, Big Dipper, and Christmas, all of whom declined); on Saturday they played their first official gig (a one-shot, according to guitarist Crispin Wood) in five years. The Bags had a big influence on the current scene, reviving hard rock - not quite heavy metal, but hard, chunky, fist-wavin' Rock - and making it hip again. They also have something that a lot of their successors lack: a three-word phrase beginning with "sense" and ending with "humor." Although never a joke band, the Bags always had a tongue-in-cheek, Spinal Tap-informed sensibility - an undertone of "Yeah, we know this is ridiculous, but isn't it cool?"

In 2003 The Bags reformed and began writing and rehearsing songs. Their "debut" performance at the Middle East in February of 2004 sold out quickly and was a huge success. The following June they released a live 2 song CD on their new Oaf Records label and returned to the Middle East Downstairs for another sold out show. The band spent the summer and fall recording Sharpen Your Sticks, their first full-length album in over 13 years.



to write a review

Mike Brown

Damm Right rejoice!! The Bags are back!!
Rejoice to the musical geniuses who've brought us the little dance ditty...L. Frank Baum....The Bags are back...So nice to see them play again at TT. the Bears and the Middle East..
Crispin, Jon, and Jim(Jackie) Janota....What can be said??
Great album!! If you like the it...Read all the reviews...Killer band...another Killer album...Nuf said!

Stan "Ug" Nielson

Buy this album or go to hell.
This cd is not for the foolish emo kid, looking to listen to more whining. Sharpen Your Sticks will kick you in the head and take your wallet. The riffs and vocals are brutally prehistoric, and inspire me to kill things with a pointy stick and eat them. If you don't like this cd, there's something wrong with your brain.


Hey, how's it going? I rock!
I thought the whole thing was excellent.

ted rao

all the rock. all of it.
The greatest album in in the history of all rock that has ever attempted to do so. Except for their first record, "Rock Starve." Can't touch that.

Aaarh! Nooo!!

Can't believe my ears. Finally a new CD after all those years. And it rocks like hell, I can be very short 'bout this one: Buy it! Buy it! Buy it! And did I mention you should buy this CD?
Only shitty thing is, these guys have never toured outside the US (hinthint). I still don't understand why one wants to spend the rest of his life in the US of motherfucking A????? Anyway, the Bags still rule. Buy this CD. And do it here. Cuz CDBaby rules too.


Best. Band. Ever.
Since I first saw them in 1989 or 1990, The Bags have been my all-time favorite band in the whole world.

So glad they're back.

Ross Markonish

Bags Fans Rejoice! This one's another classic...
Those rock fans who lived in Boston in the early 90s probably understand my excitement at the news that the legendary BAGS have finally completed their much-anticipated reunion Cd, “Sharpen Your Sticks.” For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, read on. You have a lot of learning to do.

Winners of the 1989 Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble (Boston’s famous battle of the bands), the BAGS were a heavy hitting power trio cranking out rock anthems about space cakes and atomic coconuts at a time when most bands were trying to be the next shoe-gazing Nirvana. After releasing three amazing albums (plus one album by their notorious alter ego, Swamp Oaf), the BAGS called it quits in 1991, some members staying in the world of rock (most notably, drummer Jim Janota joining aristocrat punks, THE UPPER CRUST), others heading off to parts unknown.

Flash forward to 2005 and this disc, which promptly returns the BAGS to their rightful place on the Beantown rock throne. Without any sign that 14 years have passed, the BAGS are back with another classic album of punk-infused metal riffs, bizarro lyrics, and monster vocals. The pace here is all adrenaline-rush, with the band rarely slowing it down beyond a Motorhead gallop. Think of an unholy 1975 collision of KISS and the RAMONES and you should have a sense of what to expect here. This is stripped down rock and roll, with heavy riffs, pounding drums, and wailing leads. As with all the BAGS albums, vocals are shared, often within the same song, by bassist Jon Hardy and guitarist Crispin Wood, who frequently trade off lines or alternate verses and choruses. Both voices are strong, with Hardy’s James Hetfield-esque growl nicely balancing Wood’s more nasally style. For the most part, though, it is Hardy who dominates this album, his commanding presence amplifying the aggressive riffs.

Standout tracks on this album include “Babbling Cadaver,” a double-kick drum propelled burner with some shredding guitar leads, “Cavemen Rejoice!”, a tale of Neanderthal man appropriately anchored by a lumbering monolithic riff, “Here Come The Creeps,” the best punk-metal song that Turbonegro didn’t write, and “Ivan the Terrible”, an anthemic ode to the notorious despot, who proclaims, “It aint easy being greedy and mean/Venting my spleen day and night/There may be men more handsome and smart/But I know in my heart that might is right.” Lyrically, the songs are characteristically off-the-wall and hilarious, though nothing here approaches the sheer genius of “L. Frank Baum,” their 1991 tribute to the author of The Wizard of OZ (from the album, “Night of the Corn People”). Best lines come from the tune “Gargoyle”: “You are a gargoyle/I am a troll/You’re ugly high/and I’m ugly low/You are immortal/I am a bum/A god of hunger/You drop a crumb/I’m nothing but a pigeon.” Stoopid genius, I tell ya.

Production-wise, everything is crystal clear, courtesy of long-time BAGS producer, Carl Plaster. Overdubs are kept to a minimum, and all songs have a loud and live feel to them, with the disc never letting up once for its entire 36-minutes. In fact, if I had to find one fault with the album, it would have to be that there is a certain amount of sameness to the tempos of the songs, a bit too much of their punky debut, “Rock Starve,” and not enough of the songwriting variety of their masterpiece, “Night of the Corn People.” But, hey, I aint complainin’. This is ROCK of the highest order, and fans of heavy music should take note. It would be a shame to keep this gem hidden away in the Boston rock scene, so start spreading the word….The BAGS are back!


The most brutal album you've never heard
Quite possibly one of the most punishing albums of all time. They've blown up since the release of "Guitar Hero" with the track "Caveman Rejoice" However, the entire album shreds with ACDC style solo's and bad religion/cro-mags style vocals.

Stewart Reader

I first heard Cavemen Rejoice from Guitar Hero. I loved it so much that I ordered the album online, which I've never done before. Loved the rest of the album too, its a shame The Bags are not much more well known. They rock!

I'm guessing the band is just a little thankful for the day they got included on Guitar Hero :D


I Must Admit
I gotta admit that I had no idea who The Bags where until I played Guitar Hero, and I might not have ever played their song if my roommate hadn't of tested me at it, which I'm more than happy to say that I am glad that it happened. This CD was well worth the wait for it to arrive in Iraq where I am stationed. When I get back home, I'm making it a purpose to get "Rock Starve" and hope that The Bags continue to drop albums like this. Thanks to CD Baby I'm always going to be able to find cds that I can't get at my local music stores in Missouri. Thanks CD Baby and thank you The Bags, you along with Graveyard BBQ have been a huge morale booster for me!
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