The Reactions, a celebrated but short-lived Miami punk band, disbanded after the release of their 1981 EP Love You, sealing their fate as little more than a nostalgic footnote in the history of punk. The subsequent misplacement of a large chunk of The Reactions’ unreleased material would have seemed to put the proverbial nail in the band’s coffin, but, 30 years later, an unknown label 1,300 miles away made a discovery that could bring The Reactions back in from the margins.
Mike Hooker, a Ft. Lauderdale native and Austin, TX, resident, founded the Austin-based reissue label Cheap Rewards Records with two fellow music obsessives. The threesome shares an affinity for first-generation power pop and punk records, genres that, when announced as a preference, suggest a rare drive to pluck quality from obscurity. The three men began plotting their plan of attack two years ago, drawing out a long list of bands and albums they wanted to see reissued.
But as time wore on, other labels began releasing the material Cheap Rewards had hoped to revive. Hooker watched helplessly as Last Laugh Records released The Normals’ Vacation to Nowhere LP and Sing Sing Records put out a Rip Off Records compilation and Protex’s Strange Obsession LP.
“We decided we better get a move on when [they] started announcing that they would be releasing material that was on our list,” said Hooker, 31. “Being a South Florida native, I naturally levitated towards The Reactions for our debut. Their two EPs were absolutely stellar. And I’d also heard some unreleased demo and live recordings that simply blew me away.”