Sunday, April 11, 2010

What one hardcore/punk album has stood the test of time for you?

Brendan with SFA at The Pyramid, NYC, Photo courtesy of: Brendan Rafferty

Brendan Rafferty - SFA

What makes a record stand the test of time? Is it production quality? Standout songs?
Most of what I thought was great when I was a teenager hasn't held up on repeat listening.

Or is it more about striking a personal chord and taking me back to a different time and place in my life when I listen to it?

I guess the true test of an album that stands the test of time is all of the above.

Victim In Pain was a great album at a pivotal period of my adolescence, but though it had some of the anthems of my youth, I have no desire to listen to it all these years later. The style and energy was raw, original, and went on to inspire countless imitators. But personally I've played it to death.

Albums that still get me going 25+ years later are the Reagan Youth album, the Avengers album on Cherry Disc and the Bad Brains album on ROIR cassettes.

This was a tough question because, in my mind, there were no completely perfect hardcore albums.

If you'd asked what 7" stands the test of time, I wouldn't have even hesitated in my answer. Articles Of Faith "What We Want Is Free" - four sloppy, low production, slightly out of tune...and absolutely perfect hardcore songs that absolutely captured the energy and the style of the 80s. As long as I played hardcore, I knew I'd never make a song more chaotically perfect than Bad Attitude.

Al, Vince and Darren with Edgewise, Photo courtesy of: Vince Spina

Al Spina - Edgewise

There are a few that come to mind, but the one that would exemplify this the best would be Bad Religion's "Suffer". I first discovered punk rock through a friend's older brother. He would drive us around before we could drive and he had tapes of The Clash, Black Flag, Adam And The Ants, Sex Pistols, etc...and we would listen to those in the car.

When I got my driver's license in '83, my work began to expand. I would save my money (heck, I made $3.35/hour at the Ground Round), and I would spend most of that money on records. I would go to the mall and buy stuff that simply looked punk or hardcore and there was a certain level of excitement or "newness" to every record I bought. I even got the AF Victim In Pain record at the Granite Run Mall!

Like anything else, some of that newness wears off, but when Suffer was released in the late 80s, I felt like that was the reason I got into punk and hardcore in the first place. Musically, I can still listen to it and it does not sound like it was recorded 20+ years ago, and like most of Bad Religion's lyrics, they are well thought out and thought provoking.

Jason O'Toole with Life's Blood's first show at CBGB, 1988, Photo courtesy of: Mike Bullshit

Jason O'Toole - Life's Blood

"Los Angeles" by X (1980) is a timeless hardcore punk record: It's influenced by the punk, rockabilly and country artists of generations before them, and will surely influence generations of musicians to come. Lyrically, X set the bar high. Listening to this as a kid in Upstate NY, I felt that I had a pretty good idea of what life was like in urban Southern California.

X was a jumping off point for me - DAYS after I first heard it, I would seek out their musical influences beyond punk rock, from Leadbelly to Hank Williams to Johnny Cash to Carl Perkins, as well as their literary influences, the hard-boiled detective novels of Ray Chandler and the confessionalist writing of Charles Bukowski. It's a journey I am still undertaking.

The lyrics I wrote and co-wrote for Life's Blood (1987) are in part informed by the raw, dark energy that lives in these John Doe/Exene Cervenka ballads.

1 comment: said...

Dag Nasty~
with Dave Smally

Freeze from boston
all of their 7" crap, was so great

live anytime