Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gordo on Records That Have Stood The Test Of Time


A few people mentioned that they'd like to hear about what records have stood the test of time for both Tim and me. While my time in hardcore is less than Tim's, it's still been 15 years of evaluating and re-evaluating countless records and my accompanying feelings on them.


I came up with three that run the gamut of my tastes in hardcore, in no order. On the whole though, I have to say that the vast majority of classic punk and hardcore records I heard when I was a pre-pubescent pre-teen still remain classics. Perhaps some things from the nineties haven't held up, but it's not like Rock For Light has bummed me out as I've gotten older or anything.

These three have special places in my heart, and I think I actually love them more and more each time I listen to them. I've dissected every aspect of them, and feel like I'm as true a fan as any. I'd love to pose and cite some rare stuff from '79, but at the end of the day, I come back to these. - Gordo DCXX



CRO-MAGS "Age Of Quarrel" - 1986
Total no brainer. Still the eptiome of the perfect fusion of blazing hardcore, punk, and metal created by urban dudes who stockpiled notes from the best and put everything they witnessed first hand coming up into one band that was so potent they had no choice but to self-destruct. When I first heard Age Of Quarrel, it sounded like a wrecking ball of fire being played by grown ass men who knew all about the harsh truth of reality, had mastered their instruments, and could easily hurt me.

Many years later, I have grown up, spent countless hours honing 'musician' skills of my own, and have attempted to build some type of imposing physical presence...and yet I listen to this record and I'm instantly a scared little boy again...a weak amateur...a lightweight. I still can't play all of Mackie's beats, I can't fully grasp the desperation of the lyrics, and I can't pretend to relate to the war zone of a place where this came from - and I don't think that will ever change. In reality, this record describes a world that I am merely visiting as a tourist from the suburbs. But fuck, I can't help it...when We Gotta Know kicks in, all of a sudden I have a full dragon tattoo on my chest, it's 3am, and I'm carrying a cinder block on Avenue D looking for a guy named "Scrillo" who just robbed my boy Chris. You see what I'm saying?

Some prefer the demo rawness. I'll take the LP any day. Everything about this record sounds perfect, flows perfect, and simply is perfect. Hail the Cro-Mags.



YOUTH OF TODAY "Break Down The Walls" - 1987
In terms of Straight Edge Hardcore, this to me is in many respects, the genre at its pinnacle, love or hate it. It's short Italian guys who took SSD, DYS, The Abused, Negative Approach, and Minor Threat, and said "let's do it as best we can...straight edge and in your face, without any apologies." Nobody ever said it was entirely original, but I'm saying it's absolute perfection.

Every YOT record stands the test of time for me, and I easily could have swapped We're Not In The Alone in place of Break Down The Walls. But the rawness of Break Down The Walls - Ray's bombastic growling, Porcell's guitar tone, Drew's spastic but relatively clocked-in drumming, the presence of Richie's attack, Craig's bass lines - it really seems like it's YOT at their most aggressive, their most honest, and their most compelled.

It is X'd fists in the air, Champion sweatshirts with the hoods up, Air Jordan Is, jumping off the drum riser, diving into the crowd, trying to change the world...just a band in top gear with a full tank of gas, eager to build an entire SEHC scene from city to city. This record is the soundtrack to that. I'm the first to admit there are cheesy SEHC records that came from bands after Break Down The Walls...but I can never fault this one.



DANZIG "DANZIG I" - 1988
Ahh yes, the evil B side to the boy scout goodness of the YOT A side. I'll get some shit for this, but I don't care.

To me, the first Danzig LP took the spirit of The Misfits and the heart of Samhain, mixed it with eerie, early Black Sabbath and the darker side of Led Zeppelin and repackaged it with heavy, stark imagery. The recording is plainly ferocious, demanding, and polished, and yet it's also stripped down to a point where it sounds like there's hardly any trickery or excess involved. It's a Rubin-perfected Glenn Danzig with his best vocal performance ever, crooning high-in-the-mix over Christ's sinister, sex-drenched crusher blues riffs, Eerie Von's dark and creepy bass lines, and Chuck Biscuits playing drums while almost standing up, bashing away with raw precision and never-ending power on a minimalist's drumset that sounds ten times bigger than it really is.

I didn't totally "get it" when I was 12. Now I couldn't possibly "get it" any more. In a lot of ways, you could put this record at the center of my own personal music spectrum as the middle point. Punk, hardcore, classic hard rock, early rock 'n roll, blues, metal...Danzig mixes it here so seemlessly and naturally in a way that was/is impossible for others to emulate. And in terms of power, I simply can't listen to it without wanting to bang my head into oblivion.

18 comments:

Ben Edge said...

Your synopsis of Break Down The Walls actually makes me want to pull it out of the collection, and listen to it again.

Russ said...

Fuck Gordo; slam dunk on all three! The only thing I would disagree with you on is being able to interchange any of the Youth of Today records. Break Down The Walls just totally destroys the other shit in my opinion....I'm always debating the Youth of Today albums with contributor Agent O. I could never get used to the way Ray says "no more!" at the start of that song...

Justin M. said...

Good choices, all. I've been on a real Misfits/Samhain/Danzig kick lately and have been rocking the first three Danzig records and the thrall-demonsweat live EP exclusively for the last week. I disagree that the first lp is Danzig's best vocal performance, my vote would go to Danzig III, especially "hear of the devil" and "bodies." I also just saw the Cro-Mags last friday in Anaheim and they blew my mind again. They rocked all of AOQ + crush the demoniac, three bad brains covers (attitude, regulator, right brigade), the leeway intro and the intro to Black Sabbath's "symptom of the universe." Awesome to say the least.

DOUBLE CROSS said...

How I have managed to miss these latest Cro-Mags shows is beyond me. Hearing that set list makes me want to kick through a concrete wall and stage dive in the rubble. Mother fucker... -Tim DCXX

Gordo DCXX said...

Justin - I hear you about Danzig III. In a way I think that is kinda the band really hitting their stride (Eerie even says this in his book) and that record is a beast. Something about the first record though just incinerates my ears, and I always look at it as the blueprint for the next few years of the band. Thanks for the comments.

Lars said...

great choices...AOQ and Danzig are still in heavy rotation for me these days. Especially the Danzig joint. That record is so nasty/ evil....Makes me think the dark side maybe the way to go. Put that record on and I'm totally rolling with Satan...

Also, one of the best/ if not the best Rick Rubin production. Its a tough call for me in that category, 1st Danzig, The Cult "Electric", or Slayer "South of Heaven"/"Reign in Blood"...

ShayKM said...

First two choices are great albums all around. Danzig was/is disposable. I grew up with the Misfits. It ended when they ended. I think NFAA's full length was/is a blueprint for HC. They distilled what came before, played it better, and had something upstairs driving them. Every song is well-written, lyrically meaningful, and carries fire. NFAA never got the recognition they should have. That album deserves multiple repressings, maybe even a remastering!

Jim Pitts said...

Having seen the original Misfits in SF, D.O.A. with Chuck Biscuts, as well as Black Flag with him on drums, I have never gotten the appeal of Danzig. It is everything that was bad about the Misfits and Samhain in one band that was full of musicians I dug. Y.O.T. were the greatest, live they were nuts. Espcially in '86 and '87 when S.E. was just taking off. Cro Mags, always awesome, as long as John Joseph is signing.
Where's Black Flag's "Damged", Millions Of Dead Cops, the Adolescents 1st LP, and I could go on.....

Anonymous said...

awesome picks, awesome write up. next time someone asks me why i love any of these records i am showing them this. couldnt have said it any better. (i could see why people disagree on danzig but that has always been the case)

Anonymous said...

"when We Gotta Know kicks in, all of a sudden I have a full dragon tattoo on my chest, it's 3am, and I'm carrying a cinder block on Avenue D looking for a guy named "Scrillo" who just robbed my boy Chris..."

That right there is absolute genius.

Anonymous said...

the question is, which mix of bdtw???

Jake said...

Excellent work, Gordo.

Anonymous said...

"when We Gotta Know kicks in, all of a sudden I have a full dragon tattoo on my chest, it's 3am, and I'm carrying a cinder block on Avenue D looking for a guy named "Scrillo" who just robbed my boy Chris..."

-never again will i listen to we gotta know without thinking about that description. don't agree with the other 2 record choices (yot over minor threat or ssd, danzig over anything misfits or black flag?), but age of quarrel is dead on and this description still has me laughing in agreement.

Anonymous said...

Original mix of Break Down the Walls. The remixes sound overdubbed and remixed.

Ibn Mark said...

Good explanations for your choices. I don't even know if I could narrow it down to 3...I'll have to cheat a little. ...Hip Hop: Nas- Illmatic, Mobb Deep- The Infamous, and Public Enemy- It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back.... as for the 'Core: Judge- Bringin' It Down, Straight Ahead 12", and Youth of Today- We're Not In This Alone

Anonymous said...

really good records!! respect from russia)

Ballo said...

danzig cromags and yot are my 3 favorite band ever! this was excellent and funny!

Anonymous said...

Great picks Gordo. My picks for top 3 perfect albums would be:
Danzig 4, Turning Point "It's Always Darkest...", Cro-Mags "Age of Quarrel". There is not one mediocre or bad songs in these albums. Then again I could say the same thing for Unity "Blood Days" & Gorilla Biscuits "Start Today". You should have made it top 5 instead.