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Peter & the Test Tube Babies
Peter & the Test Tube Babies spent the last 20 years at the bottom. They've never sounded better. Starting in Brighton, England, the young oi band set out to play songs about daily life and have a good time along the way. The result was so influential that their best tunes -- "Banned From Pubs," "Elvis Is Dead," "Run Like Hell" -- became standards for dozens of other punk and oi groups, who covered the songs live.

While most early oi bands outgrew tunes about pubs and class consciousness -- or found better-paying jobs -- Peter & the Test Tube Babies stayed pissed for almost two decades. The current tour marks the first time the outfit has traveled without the original lineup: Both bassist Trapper and drummer Ogs found said better-paying jobs as roadies for other bands.

Although the loss of one-half of the Babies might send a shiver through the braces of longtime fans, one listen to the group's most recent album, Alien Pubduction, will get the gruffest of skinheads -- the non-racist sort who love classic oi -- lacing up their nine-holes for the latest appearances. Cuts like "Why Bother," a tune about aging rock stars who tour greatest-hits sets with one new song, prove that last-nameless Peter's wit is still cutting and incisive. And "Talkshow," a hilarious jab at American daytime television, features full-throttle guitar work that nods to oi's two-finger salute. The album also boasts guest slurring by G.B.H., another old-school punk band, on the sure-to-be holiday classic "I'm Getting Pissed for Christmas."

-- Robert Arriaga

Peter & the Test Tube Babies play Friday, Sept. 25, at 6 and 9 p.m. at the Cocodrie, 1024 Kearny (at Broadway). Tickets are $5; call 986-6678.

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