Civ goes for a big dive at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno
Not surprisingly, Start Today took the first place position in this poll. That said, I was shocked by how clearly it was in fact the winner here. I went with the seven inch, and was surprised at how few were with me.
Allow me to dissect...
Start Today gets insane amounts of love from almost every sub-sub-sub-subgenre of the hardcore/punk scene. There's a good chance you can bump into a poser who is walking out of Hot Topic and he has at least heard of Start Today. In many ways it is still the record you can play for the funky girl you work with who lives on iTunes, loves "going to gigs," and shops exclusively at Urban Outfitters, but has never actually heard a hardcore band. The inverse of this of course, is that amongst many hardcore purists, it's considered a crap record that defined everything that was going terribly wrong with NYHC circa 1989.
For the record, I love it - but I understand the inclination for some of the criticisms. For one, it's a very digestable and 'pleasant' hardcore record of sorts - the appeal lies in the fact that it is very listener friendly and inclusive in a way that many of the contemporary Rev releases of the time are not. I don't think that was a contrived thing - I think it's just who the band was and how the songs came out. It's not trying to be "hard" - it isn't from "the street" - it doesn't have a "challenging" vibe - it isn't blatantly straight edge - and it seems to have at times some un-hardcore ambitions (i.e. harmonica, which I love by the way).
But somehow, Start Today works. And the whole package, right down to the colorful embossed cover and all the imagery, is catchy as hell.
Further, the production is nice and clear, it has lyrics that are inviting to all, and the music is well crafted melodic hardcore that fuses a bit of a NYC backbone with what I always perceived as California and DC pop sensibility. When I was 14 years old it at times felt like the greatest HC record of that era, and I would spend hours listening on repeat, studying the lyric sheet and photos, convinced that this was perfect and confused as to how it wasn't as popular as any Beatles album. (My enthusiasm would soon settle, but I still think it's a great record).
The GB 7" is a younger GB - raw, chaotic, funny, straight edge, but still kinda pissed and spazzy (as far as SE hardcore goes). The beauty of this record to me is how spontaneous and live it feels, even 22 years after its release. While the horn introduction to "New Direction" on the LP can still give me goosebumps at times, the bass intro of "High Hopes" just makes me want to start stage diving while peeling a banana.
The writing and arrangements of things is much more juvenile, and the fun and energy of it is really just contagious. You feel like you are just hanging on a corner in Astoria with your boys on a summer night without a worry in the world, being young and 'retarded' while this plays on someone's ghetto blaster. Right down to the cover art, to me this record has always said (in a really cool and sincere way): "YO!!! We are straight edge!!! But we can all hang out and mosh and go down to CB's together and everyone can come and then we can have a huge sleep over and drink tons of soda!!!" You listen to that record and instantly you are significantly younger.
GB will always carry a gigantic legacy and to me both are timeless records for their own reasons. But the EP is just a classic in a way so few records are, and that's why it got my vote.
YO SUCKA!!! -Gordo DCXX
Civ with Gorilla Biscuits at Club Unisound, Photo courtesy of Revelation Records
The man himself, Jordan Cooper, was kind enough to lend his thoughts and memories on GB and each of these records. Thanks Jordan!!!
No surprise that "Start Today" was the winner. The LP was amazing in so many ways that I didn't realize until I actually heard it the second time around and the layout was done. It seems like they always recorded at just the right time to capture the band's best songs as soon as they were ready. On both records, regardless of the age of the songs, they were done with the energy of new songs and the confidence of old ones. It's hard for me to name a favorite between the two.
To start with, the EP was really incredible. It was done right after the band really got a hold on its sound and personality; Walter's writing got more focused without losing the band's sense of humor, Civ found his signature vocal style and both Arthur and Luke were solid players. The label was brand new when the 7" came out so everything was a group effort and every step involved learning something. The 7" was the first time the Rev logo was used on a record. Billy's amazing artwork was on the cover. Alex was friends with them before joining the band and did the layout.
The LP was another turning point for the band and Walter. His songwriting got even better, the band was even more solid and the recording came out perfectly. I'm not sure of the exact sequence of events, but once they quit Chung King and went to Don Fury, everything went more smoothly. After the music tracks were finished, Walter went on tour to Europe with Youth Of Today while the vocals were getting done. As I remember it, everyone loved the record, but Walter wanted Civ to re-do the vocals. I'm not sure if the "Walter Sings" vocals were done before or after Civ's first tracks or after, but basically Walter had really specific ideas about how each line should be delivered. I went to the studio one of the days they were working on it and I couldn't believe how much work they were putting into every song. The amount of patience Civ, Walter and Don had was incredible and the effort that went in is the reason that record is so great.
Though I gave them a bunch of suggestions for artwork and packaging, Walter had his own vision for the package and worked with Dave Bett directly on the layout and I'm sure just as much effort went into that as every other part of the record. The one thing I suggested that they did do was the embossing on the covers. "Start Today" was a big step forward for the label too. This was the first full-length that I handled the production for on my own without the help of a distributor. It was also the first time we had enough money to pay for an album's recording and the first time we released a new record on CD at the same time the vinyl was done. - Jordan Cooper
Gorilla Biscuits - "Start Today" - 302
Gorilla Biscuits - 7" - 123
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Posted by DOUBLE CROSS at 10:47 PM