Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Joe Nelson - The Unity Blood Days



At this point, we hope you aren't taking Joe Nelson's priceless contributions for granted. This time around, some thoughts on O.C. legends, Unity. "Straight On View"...


-DCXX

I didn't know Rob Lynch, the original Unity singer. I knew his brother Pete, but never met Rob nor saw his version of Unity. From what I hear they were a pretty solid skate thrash type band with him on vocals. His death, that was a real tragedy. I think Pete found him in the garage, where he had hung himself. How devastating that must have been for Pete, too. How do you ever shake finding your brother dead? There were a couple hard suicides to deal with around that time. I suppose that happens in every scene though. It's just part of the teen age experience unfortunately.

Unity was Pat Longrie's band though, top to bottom. I will say this about Longrie: he was completely obsessed with hardcore from about 1982 - 1986. He knew everything about it. He was at every show, knew every band, had every record. He lived and breathed hardcore. There's that great Ed Colver photo of him stage diving, with his tongue out while he's flipping off the crowd. He's dressed to the nines with the uniform of the day. Flannel, jeans with some band written on them (in his case it's J.F.A.) and boots with bandanas tied around them. That was Longrie to the T. He was like a preacher of positive straight edge hardcore to anyone who would listen, and to some who wouldn't. As Dan O'Mahoney said at one time to me, "Longrie was like John the Baptist for the scene." He really was too.

Were they a real band or a project? I think Unity was considered a real band, at least to me and my friends they were. Uniform Choice was way bigger, but Unity was also no project band. When Rob died I think Pat Dubar joined as more of a favor to Longrie. He probably also felt more philosophically aligned with Longrie, and Joe Foster, then he did with Pat Dyson, Vic Maynez, and Dave Mello of Uniform Choice. Those 3 dudes were not straight edge in any way shape or form, while, Dubar, Longrie, and Foster were breathing it in daily.

I don't really consider that EP a "powerhouse," but it's definitely a decent record. They did play a handful of shows with Dubar, mainly at the Cathe De Grande. Dubar was attending Pepperdine at the time on his baseball scholarship, so there was no way for him to maintain two bands. In the end U.C. won out, and rightfully so.

Between the EP and the LP, the band didn't exist. What happened was that "Blood Days" line up was jamming under the name "Winds Of Promise" or W.O.P. as us smart asses liked to call it. It was like a project band or something. They had weird practices with strobe lights, and flying hair. They were definitely all on a different trip at the time with that band.


Pat Longrie, Photo: Ed Colver

All those "Blood Days" songs, along with "A Wish To Dream" and "Man Against Man," with different vocals, were W.O.P. songs. I think they figured it would be easier to just release it as Unity in the end, instead of under "Winds Of Promise." I'm sure looking back it would have been smarter to just call it"Winds Of Promise," and leave it as a stand alone project.

Re-recording the 7" vocals wasn't a smart idea either. I do understand the argument of trying to keep everything sounding somewhat cohesive during a record, but I just wouldn't have done that. However, Pat Dubar also wrote "Use Your Head" and "Screaming For Change," which trumps pretty much 90% of anything any of us ever have done musically, so in the end what's there really to argue?


They didn't play any shows alongside the release of Blood Days. They were supposed to play, but it fell through. There's a flyer for it too. I think it was U.C., Youth of Today, Unity, Insted, and Half Off. I remember that show was the first all straight edge line-up from top to bottom I'd ever seen. I thought that was really cool at the time, too. Looking back at it though it was the beginning of the end for what made that era so great. The diversity of the shows, and the crowd is what made that time special, not seeing 5 straight edge bands in a row. Once it started being all straight edge bands on the same bill the scene lost its charm. At least for me anyway.

As far as Dubar's style with the hair, cowboy boots, and jean jacket, nobody questioned it. At least not to his face, that's for fucking sure. That change had been coming for some time though. I'm sure it was a shock to see those pictures back East, but not to us. We saw it coming gradually the whole time. It took a couple years for both of them to grow their hair out. Keep in mind though, Henry Rollins had long hair. Kevin Seconds had long hair, even Ian MacKaye grew his hair out at the time. It wasn't that crazy of a move really.

I suppose coupled with the musical change it may have seemed sort of drastic to people. However, he and Longrie were so moved by The Cult's "Love" LP that there was no way they weren't going to try and incorporate some of that band's music and fashion into their own trip. That record is fucking great too, The Cult "Love" that is, so I get it...well, sort of. They just really didn't have the musical chops to pull off what they were going for.

Did they do some cheeeeeeesy things in 1988 or whenever that record dropped, well, yes they did, but I'm not going to burn them for being who they were at that time. Christ, they were in their early 20s, still trying to find themselves and their identity as men. The problem both of them had is they did it inside the petri dish of the hardcore scene.

In 1988 I was neck deep into hardcore/punk, but I also loved The Smiths, The Cure, Jane's Addiction, and Depeche Mode. In fact, two of the greatest shows I saw in the 80s were The Smiths at Irvine Meadows, and Depeche Mode at the Rose Bowl. We also were all checking out this weird little art band in L.A. called Jane's Addiction, who we loved as much as anything else that was happening in hardcore at the time.

Around the same time Dubar was in his "Sunset Blvd" phase, all I was listening to was Social Distortion's "Prison Bound," NWA, Eazy E, Public Enemy, The Smiths, and random hardcore. So everybody's musical horizons were expanding...fuck, look at mine, they were all over the map. Therefore, none of that stuff, minus maybe the perfectly placed Ansel Adams poster in the "Blood Days" photo, ever bothered me too much. Pat was always still Pat.


18 comments:

Todd J. said...

My first hardcore ever was Ignite, Far, 1134, and Triceratops at the Rhino Room in Huntington Beach, September 1996. When Ignite played, they covered a Unity "explantion for action" with the supposed "original singer". I think Fred Hammer told me it was the guy who sang before Dubar. Who was the guy who sang the song? He looked like a total "normal dude". It was awesome.

Ed Goodlife said...

@ Todd :

that would have been the original
Ignite singer, none other than Mr.
Joe Nelson himself.

st said...

I dunno what others might say, but for me "Blood Days" counts as a top 5 hardcore record EVER. It is absolutely amazing. Great band, great vocals, and the whole setting of the picture on back of the LP is just... to good to be true.

Anonymous said...

Great post.
The Unity 7" is one of the most important records I ever purchased- contrary to what Joe says, I think it is an amazing record-better than just decent.

The LP is great too, it worked so much better than the second UC LP-

Imperfection said...

interesting insights there.I still don't like the LP but the 7" rules.

chad said...

aren't there supposed to be some Winds Of Promise demos or practice tapes out there somewhere... anyone...?

as also discussed on this thread... http://forums.livewire-records.com/read.php?f=1&i=266083&t=266017

Anonymous said...

Double Cross needs to do an interview with Pat Dubar. It would be interesting to see his take on the scene back then and what he is up nowadays.

DRH said...

Someone has to post a link to a Blood Days download here. What label was the original LP on? If I remember it totally had a Depeche Modeesque cover. Either way that album was cool.

Dylan said...

Another great one!

Ed Goodlife said...

Amazing LP in many ways, it's true. Originally released in 1989 on POWERHOUSE RECORDS (which was I believe an imprint of a distribution company at that time - maybe Dutch East or Caroline or somebody, not sure).

Powerhouse also released the American Standard 'Wonderland' LP that same year - not sure if they did anything else after that. Anyone ?

The Last Surviving Witness said...

Winds of Promise did evolve into something that might embarrass even those guys if they had ever played out. Having seen an early version of the band practice in Pat Longrie's basement, I can honestly say they were an amazing hardcore band. They could be even be compared to Inside Out in some ways-slow, heavy, and melodic songs with screaming vocals. At least some of the songs were released on "Blood Days," but those versions have little to do with the original approach and pale in comparison. There is a WOP tape floating around that was used as source material for early Ignite songs, but I think that was recorded by the later version Joe referred to.

Anonymous said...

Great record.... but what the fuck is with the spoken word stuff at the end ...

Anonymous said...

Pat Dubar here.... just read the article fairly accurate...However, I will say that although I grew my hair out (to avoid being catagorized or having U.C. catagorized as a Skin Head band which was being to happen at the time) I never wore cowboy boots or leather pants or shinny shirts, etc. I think some peoples imaginations have gotten away from them..Yes other guys in the band at times did...me however, NO.

Just trying to set the history straight one sentence at a time...
Besides if you think about it the guys that did that shit(inside the Punk Scene) were way more Punk than any of the people that looked like everyone else..I think many people forgot and have still forgotten what the spirit of Punk was...

D.I.Y.
Be an INDIVIDUAL..
Speak Your MIND...
Take SHIT from NO ONE!!!!

I can assure U.C. did all of the above all the time...

tony said...

The guy who sung the song was the drummer for Unity. I was at the show too.

The Math said...

I personally love the Blood Days record and actually thinks it surpasses the 7" by far. But that's maybe because i grew up listening to the BD-record and didn't hear the original 7" until i was an adult.

I like the piercing high pitched vocals and the crisp, fast & energetic, sound on it. And though the cheese factor is there it's still feels sincere.

Thanks for the info btw.

jrlhooked said...

Joe & others interested - I happened to see this post and was surprised to see that I was dead (Rob Lynch). I am alive and well now living in Phoenix with my family. Our older brother Dennis unfortunately committed suicide during my senior year in high school at our house. It was devastating to all of us. Later that year (1984) the band basically broke things off. I personally moved out and was going to college and working full time and stopped going to shows and left the "scene" as it were. I still love the music! By the way, I loved singing for Unity along with my good friends Pat, Joe and Joe! I still remember every moment and wish sometimes that I could go back to those times!

Rob Lynch

Basti6977 said...

Nice to read something about Unity!

and I think it`s not so good how people remember...


...thanks for this great Songs! They push me forward when I hear them!

I want the shirt which Zoli wears in this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uuUGSs0N-E

If you wrote the lyrics, thanks Rob!

I have seen on some videos many people don't like the spoken words(...to risk) I asked myself why!
Maybe I`m not so good in english or what?

So have a great day people!!!

Anonymous said...

My name is John Low. I played bass on the Unity 7" and was the bass player of Uniform Choice before Dave. In answer to the first post, I was the guy that sang "E4A" with the great band Ignite at the Rhino Room in 1996. It was good sing-a-long hardcore fun.