Although they were pegged to be the post-punk era's next big thing, Boston's Human Sexual Response did the opposite, and crashed and burned after four years and two albums.
But during their short existence, they created a substantial buzz in their hometown and on the East Coast for their arty and energetic live shows and their sophisticated postmodern pop. Fronted by four singers and backed by a power trio that featured the excellent guitar work of Rich Gilbert, HSR combined a punk rock ethos with a camp sensibility reminiscent of early Blondie. Prominent vocalist Larry Bangor offered songs like "What Does Sex Mean to Me" and the irreverent "Jackie Onassis" in a jittery tenor voice that conjured up sex, outrage, and comedy in one neat package. Never eschewing controversy (Bangor was refreshingly outspoken about his homosexuality), HSR is the only band in the annals of American rock & roll to perform a song entitled "Buttfuck" on television. After a promising debut record, HSR's second record was a comparatively dour affair, loaded down with art rock pretensions and lifeless arrangements. After an almost unanimous critical drubbing, HSR played the New England circuit for another year and split in 1982. Rich Gilbert formed the cool (and loud) combo the Zulus, while drummer Malcolm Travis went on to beats skins for Bob Mould in Sugar. The ensuing decades spawned the occasional reunion, resulting in sporadic, yet well attended live shows that found the group's fan base, both the seasoned and the newly smitten, largely intact. ~ John Dougan, Rovi