Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Shelter poll wrap up

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Shelter at City Gardens, Trenton, NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno

Big surprise with these results, at least as far as I'm concerned. I had no idea that there was such an appreciation for Shelter's "In Defense of Reality" 7". Not that I don't like that 7", but in my opinion it was the 3rd best early Shelter recording. As usual, I apparently was in the minority.


For me, the number one early Shelter record has to be the first LP, "Perfection of Desire". How can you deny a track like, "Turn It Around"? I hear that song and all I can think about is stage diving. Of course hearing that LP brings me right back to the early days of Shelter and the band being based out of the Philly temple and playing locally on the regular. All those great early shows at City Gardens in Trenton, Revival Club in Philly and the Unisound in Reading, PA. Not to mention, some of those those tracks off "Perfection of Desire" almost sounding like they could have been later era Youth Of Today, "Enough" for example… awesome stuff. To me, every song on "Perfection of Desire" is great and captures a very raw, honest, socially conscience lick of righteousness, that really didn't matter if you were interested in the religious aspect or not. It was new and original without being so strange and hard to digest like many of the other bands at that time. Most definitely a record that has stood the test of time for me.

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My second choice was the "No Compromise" 7", but quite honestly, it just as easily could have been my first. From the moment I heard those two tracks, "Freewill" and "Saranagati", I was sold. Great, catchy, powerful song writing with intense, emotional, sincere lyrics to complete the package. As a matter of fact, "Freewill" might be my favorite Shelter track ever. Again, hearing this 7" reminds me of that early 1990 time period and I've got nothing but good memories about Shelter at this time. I can picture the massive "Saranagati" sing-along, pile-ons at just about each and every show back then. Good times for sure.

In the end, the most votes went to the "In Defense of Reality" 7", all 104 of them. Like I said earlier, it's not like I don't like these tracks, it's just never been my favorite of the early Shelter material. I will say though, "The News" is a pretty damn good track and by far my favorite off this 7". I always thought Vic's riffage in "The News" was great and I can understand with that song alone why people really dig this 7".

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Oh and "Attaining The Supreme"… definitely my least favorite. I remember talking to Ray before this album was released and him telling me that the new album was going to have a heavy R.E.M. sound. I like a little early R.E.M. here and there, but I really wasn't interested in hearing that kind of sound mixed into my Shelter. The production on this album has always left me feeling a bit empty as well. The only bright spots on the album for me were the tracks, "Better Way" and the re-done version of "Shelter". That being said, it doesn't kill me to give this album a spin now and again. -Tim DCXX


Shelter - "In Defense of Reality" 7" - 104
Shelter - "Perfection of Desire" LP - 87
Shelter - "Attaining The Supreme" LP - 56
Shelter - "No Compromise" 7" - 42


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Ray falls into the arms of the City Gardens crowd, Photo: Ken Salerno

38 comments:

TJK said...

Can't say I took part in this poll. All 4 records are on my iPod, so I gave them all a listen and couldn't stand any of them. Over the last 10 years I've developed a strong dislike for anything Cappo related. I don't hold it against anyone who likes his bands, I think I just outgrew them.

That being said, all the shit he gets about SxE is ridiculous.

Mike said...

Shelter blows.

Anonymous said...

With Shelter I find it very difficult to separate the religion with the music. It's one thing to be inspired by a spiritual or religious tradition and to sing about said inspiration, but with Shelter the band had a clear purpose from the start; ie to proselytize the values of ISKCON. From their lyrics, to their t-shirts, and down to their entourage they had an intended message of conversion. It was strategic and manufactured. The whole idea of this band seems to be the antithesis of hardcore, IMHO.

The first time I saw Shelter in Boston, I was surprised to see lines of Krishna's outside the small club, including older men who were not there for the music or the scene. Being 16 at the time, I thought nothing of it, but looking back it was an anomaly of early 90's hardcore that spread like a virus. Added to that is the fact that a number of very impressionable YOUNG kids, who looked up to Ray eventually joined the temple, some of whom got burnt in the process.

It could be argued that the idea of sharing a spiritual philosophy with kids, in and of itself, is not a harmful thing, especially to kids that were perhaps suffering from alienation, etc (putting aside the many criticisms of ISKCON), but still it feels like an underhanded way to go about it.

ShayKM said...

Shelter were definitely a concept band for ISKON. Ray was a mouthpiece. The band had no HC substance. They were a "HC Cult Boyband". All the music - which was great at times - was wasted on empty pseudo-spiritual-crypto-fascist nonsense. Having seen them play many a show around the country, and having argued with all of them about ISKON, Hinduism, and religion in general, I can say with absolute certainty they were nothing but missionaries. They may have been 'straight-edge', but I fail to see how such fanatical views on religion constitute anything but an addiction. Need I quote Hegel or Marx here?

Anonymous said...

I would rather listen to Oingo Boingo

Ben Edge said...

"Need I quote Hegel or Marx here?"

I don't know, but I'm going to quote me some Minor Threat:

"What happened to you?
You're not the same
Something in your head
Made a violent change
It's in your head
FILLER
You call it religion
You're full of shit...
Your brain is clay
What's going on?
You picked up a bible
And now you're gone
You call it religion
You're full of shit
FILLER"

I loved Shelter in the early/mid 90s. My mom warned me against the krishnas though. She said they separate small children from their parents in the temples. I went to a Shelter show and asked Ray if that was true, and he gave me some vague response like, "You can't believe everything people tell you."

A friend of mine in Santa Barbara asked Ray a lot of questions about what place religion had within the context of hardcore back when Shelter first came to the west coast (1990?). He said that Ray kept referring him to some krishna guru dude standing next to him, and refused to answer most of the questions himself. Like, "Here, talk to my agent." That to me is ridiculous. If you're going to take a stand (no pun intended) and make bold pronouncements about religion, you should at least be able to back your beliefs in a conversation or argument.

My vote went to No Compromise, but honestly, I find it very hard to listen to much of this band anymore.

Anonymous said...

Whoops, where is Quest for Certainty??????????????????

Anonymous said...

Krishna Consciousness and organized religion in general is nothing but mind control for people who can't reason or think for themselves. I still enjoy Shelter though on a musical level. I think they had a fresh and original sound. I have to look past some of the stupid lyrics though.

SEEKER OF THE TRUTH said...

This topic always intrigues me, especially when I see how many people were so threatened/offended by the band then (and apparently still are now). For those people, these are my questions:

-What did the band or their "entourage" ever do directly to you in hopes to "suck" you in to their "cult"? When were you ever not free to leave?

-Even if an impressionable young kid (and maybe this was you) ended up going to a temple as a result of his/her excitement over the band, how many kids were really "burnt" by this - or better yet, "harmed"?

-Can you explain to me the concept of addiction and how it somehow applies to these guys? I'm genuinely confused by this link or what is even going here (I'm not very bright).

I'm no Shelter superfan by any means. But what I don't comprehend is how SO MANY PEOPLE felt/feel so offended by what this band was about.

Here's my take on it: Cappo/Porcell & Co. were obviously very direct (and maybe even fanatical) about their 'message.' These guys weren't perfect - I think they'd be the first to admit that. And maybe they even got too caught up in this early on.

But the bottom line is that even if 99% of others found out KC wasn't for them, these two dudes are still practicing devotees from what I can gather. Their intentions, although maybe extreme, were clearly sincere.

I think it's very easy to look back in your 30s or 40s and see how goofy someone's approach was to a heavy topic 20 years ago. But keep in mind, these dudes were trying to find their way themselves...they were only in their early 20s at the time!

I don't know, my view has always been that these dudes were sincerely trying to find some truth, and maybe they got a little high on their horse in the process. Could they have kept it to themselves and made it a much more personal/private thing? Sure. But I really think that at the time, they felt as though they really found something worth presenting through their music (no different from YOT) and tried to do that in a sincere manner. (Whether or not THEY THEMSELVES were exploited by ISKCON or otherwise is a whole different story).

I don't even know if Shelter really considered themselves a hardcore band either. Then again they are screwed either way. If they were a "hardcore" band, then I'm sure they'd be criticized for 3702720 reasons. If they were not a "hardcore" band, then they were simply "using" the HC scene. It's a lose/lose.

Another thing nobody EVER mentions in this context is the Cro-Mags. It always seems like if Krishna comes up ON ANY LEVEL with the Cro-Mags, they get a 100% pass. Devotees at Mags shows, chanting during songs, artwork, rants of theirs in many interview, lyrics etc...the general response is "oh it's all cool."

Now, obviously I understand the Cro-Mags message wasn't 100% KC like Shelter's was, but this has ALWAYS seemed like a classic example of where the general vibe from people is "well, we can't criticize John Joseph or Harley because we MIGHT get our asses kicked...but Ray and Porcell, oh FUUUUCCKKK those guys (and even though we are little dweeeb nerds, we can say this without fear of our lives, so we will say it as much as possible)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Like I said, I'm no Shelter superfan...but I just don't understand how people still seem to feel so strongly about this band and feel so threatened by it all.

You would think Ray and Porcell themselves were chloroforming 13 year old boys, carrying them to their van, shaving their heads and dissecting their brains. Come on dudes...

SEEKER OF THE TRUTH said...

This topic always intrigues me, especially when I see how many people were so threatened/offended by the band then (and apparently still are now). For those people, these are my questions:

-What did the band or their "entourage" ever do directly to you in hopes to "suck" you in to their "cult"? When were you ever not free to leave?

-Even if an impressionable young kid (and maybe this was you) ended up going to a temple as a result of his/her excitement over the band, how many kids were really "burnt" by this - or better yet, "harmed"?

-Can you explain to me the concept of addiction and how it somehow applies to these guys? I'm genuinely confused by this link or what is even going here (I'm not very bright).

I'm no Shelter superfan by any means. But what I don't comprehend is how SO MANY PEOPLE felt/feel so offended by what this band was about.

Here's my take on it: Cappo/Porcell & Co. were obviously very direct (and maybe even fanatical) about their 'message.' These guys weren't perfect - I think they'd be the first to admit that. And maybe they even got too caught up in this early on.

But the bottom line is that even if 99% of others found out KC wasn't for them, these two dudes are still practicing devotees from what I can gather. Their intentions, although maybe extreme, were clearly sincere.

I think it's very easy to look back in your 30s or 40s and see how goofy someone's approach was to a heavy topic 20 years ago. But keep in mind, these dudes were trying to find their way themselves...they were only in their early 20s at the time!

I don't know, my view has always been that these dudes were sincerely trying to find some truth, and maybe they got a little high on their horse in the process. Could they have kept it to themselves and made it a much more personal/private thing? Sure. But I really think that at the time, they felt as though they really found something worth presenting through their music (no different from YOT) and tried to do that in a sincere manner. (Whether or not THEY THEMSELVES were exploited by ISKCON or otherwise is a whole different story).

I don't even know if Shelter really considered themselves a hardcore band either. Then again they are screwed either way. If they were a "hardcore" band, then I'm sure they'd be criticized for 3702720 reasons. If they were not a "hardcore" band, then they were simply "using" the HC scene. It's a lose/lose.

Another thing nobody EVER mentions in this context is the Cro-Mags. It always seems like if Krishna comes up ON ANY LEVEL with the Cro-Mags, they get a 100% pass. Devotees at Mags shows, chanting during songs, artwork, rants of theirs in many interview, lyrics etc...the general response is "oh it's all cool."

Now, obviously I understand the Cro-Mags message wasn't 100% KC like Shelter's was, but this has ALWAYS seemed like a classic example of where the general vibe from people is "well, we can't criticize John Joseph or Harley because we MIGHT get our asses kicked...but Ray and Porcell, oh FUUUUCCKKK those guys (and even though we are little dweeeb nerds, we can say this without fear of our lives, so we will say it as much as possible)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Like I said, I'm no Shelter superfan...but I just don't understand how people still seem to feel so strongly about this band and feel so threatened by it all.

You would think Ray and Porcell themselves were chloroforming 13 year old boys, carrying them to their van, shaving their heads and dissecting their brains. Come on dudes...

Anonymous said...

I never dug the religion aspect, but I liked it on a musical level up until "attaining the supreme".

My mom used to warn me all the time about these brainwashers. I used to laugh. Never went to any of the temples and never read any of their books.

I do see the side of these people taking advantage of disenfranchised people, but so does every religion.

Anonymous said...

im never go to any shelter show and never know any of them in person.so i never know how much they preach about KC.all i know is just,im on my junior high when i first heard their Mantra's.and i really moved by their lyrics.i really inspired by how their lyrics can talk about spirituality as the way of think on a daily basis.not as merely religion about how to do your pray or stuff like that.lyric like...'security...how secure are we?making our plan on a castle of sand as our dream get drag to sea.' im late knowing about this poll,but my vote goes to In Defense of Reality.

LIFE OF MY OWN said...

Memories of the times you had
That's the way you see yourself
You fight for your rights
You fight to survive

You come into this world
With nothing except yourself
You, you leave this world
With nothing except yourself

Do what you want
And how you want it
Feel it's right, go out and do it
Think for yourself
And think for the best
Or you'll go down just like the rest

You come into this world
With nothing except yourself
You, you leave this world
With nothing except yourself

JAI DCXX!!! JAI SRI KRISHNA!!!

Anonymous said...

So I guess nobody likes the Cro-Mags or Antidote for bringing Krishna into the scene? Not that I'm religious, but stop crying about people being brainwashed. Shelter was pretty good, and YOT is one of the most important bands ever.

Jeffrey said...

Seeker of the Truth nailed it. Cappo and Porcell found something they really thought (and still do think) was important. So they’re both a little predisposed to be in your face at times. Maybe a little fanatical. Really, it wasn’t the end of the world and the hardcore scene was not irreparably damaged.

What no one ever gives them credit for is maturing as they got older. Look at the lyrics Cappo wrote on Mantra and everything that came after it. (Full disclosure: I am a fan and I like ALL the Shelter records :) You’ll find a much more understanding, flexible view of spirituality and a lot more humility. Neither of those guys is perfect and they certainly deserve their fair share of criticism, but they’re human beings too.

And, at least in the beginning, they were definitely manipulated by Iskcon. Not an excuse, but certainly part of the story.

Anonymous said...

any good stories about hxc kids getting screwed over by ISKCON?

mel said...

I love the first lp and the 7" (with the black and white cover - can't think of the name, but it was voted no 1 - brilliant music on them).

the first lp always washes a calm over me.

Ken said...

Dear Seeker of Truth,

I realize you were responding to multiple criticisms of Shelter, but going back to my initial argument, the band was formed with a clear purpose of conversion. That point is difficult for me to ignore or separate from their music.

Unlike some of the other commentators, I have no qualms with religion or even a band forming for the purposes of spreading their religion (ie christian rock), but this feels like an invasion in the hardcore scene and an antithesis to its core values. Sure there were earlier bands that embraced ISKCON, but Shelter was formed as a vehicle for ISKCON’s message with the purpose of increasing membership. To target this particular audience to proselytize, one that already has your attention from a previous band, seems manipulative to me. Ray could have easily have chosen another venue. Sure, one could argue that on some level Ray/Porcell may have been used by ISKCON just as Vic DiCara claims to have been (see: I was a teenage Hare Krshna).

Again, my point is that the purpose for Shelter from day one was to proselytize (even if their approach to spirituality evolved over time; ie Jeffrey's comment). This to me is quite different than a band who were just passionate about their religion. If you look at the front jacket of the No Compromise 7", it shows Ray introducing ISKCON to a young man. All of their marketing (t-shirts, records, etc) were heavily covered in ISKCON images and messages. This was their purpose.

In defense of ISKCON, I do know a number of devotees who argue the benefits of the faith, who have lives of transformation due to its teachings. Again, that is beside the original point. Whether to bring this into the hardcore scene to convert its population, even if that is just 1% of the kids, is questionable to me.

In my argument I’m not trying to fan flames, but to point to this example as something to learn from. The sincerity of many kids that get in to the hardcore scene is also what makes them easy to manipulate.

Ibn Mark said...

I agree with most of what Seeker of Truth posted…particularly about Cro Mags getting a pass (on a lot of bullshit, not just the Krishna thing).

Earl said...

Just to clarify things here, being Krsna conscious does not necessarily have anything to do with the organization of ISKCON.
Secondly i don't think that Shelter was formed as a vehicle for ISKCON's message. While Ray was very involved in ISKCON at the time I was always under the impression that the first SHelter record was supposed to be a swan song record that was deeply rooted in his new found spiritual beliefs.
The question I have is if this is antithesis to hardcore's core values can you define hardcore's core values?

ShayKM said...

"You come into this world
With nothing except yourself
You, you leave this world
With nothing except yourself"

Point well made. This is what I mean by crypto-fascist nonsense! We do not live alone in our little fantasy bubbles. You came into this world through a basic biological process involving parents! Remember? We leave this world with friends and family mourning us, and others remembering what we have done in our communities. This Krishna solipsism denies even the basic concept of community, family, or society. We do not live alone, nor do we die alone. This type of ideology is designed to strip people of their social and familial connections and then remake them as acolytes
of a power-hungry clique of zealots. It doesn't matter that it is a watered down version of Hinduism. It could just as well be Protestantism, Catholicism, Islam, or Buddhism (particularly the more militant Japanese Zen sects that had direct links with Japan's fascist government during WWII). The fact that so many of the readers here are defending Shelter makes me think that you have not done your homework on cults, brainwashing, and the insidious character of most organized religions.

I would also agree with some of the comments that Shelter made some great HC music. Vic is undeniably a great guitar player. Props to him for this. Too bad it was all done in the service of creepy cult leaders eyeing up young punks. They did the same thing back in the 60s and 70s with our parents! And then they became yuppies! Sound familiar.

Fart said...

HATERS GONNA HATE

Mantra = Best Shelter album

Ben Edge said...

Cro-Mags get the pass? Go back on this blog and read the comments on the Harley Flanagan entries. Most of them are negative.

"-Even if an impressionable young kid (and maybe this was you) ended up going to a temple as a result of his/her excitement over the band, how many kids were really "burnt" by this - or better yet, "harmed"? "

To answer your question, Seeker of the Truth, some of the teenage boys at a particular temple were sexually molested (possibly sodomized, I can't remember the details) by a guru. This guru knew Shelter very well. I think it might be a guy who toured with them in the early days. The details are fuzzy, but Vic Dicara wrote a thing on his web site about six years ago about it.

LIFE OF MY OWN said...

What are the "core values" of hardcore?!?!

A list would be great...and, if you don't have a defined list of "core" values then you might be full of shit.

LIFE OF MY OWN said...

SHAY KM: Do you really leave this world with your family and friends?

There is nothing is Krishna consciousness that is against remembering someone especially for what they contributed to their communities or their significance in a family. Krishna consciousness has a very rich tradition in celebrating people's lives after they have left the material world.

Do you think when you leave this world, that you're going to be conscious of any such celebration? Maybe what you're thinking is that you're still going to be able to read blog commentary as you move on to the next world?

Jeffrey said...

A few misconceptions here....

"All of their marketing (t-shirts, records, etc) were heavily covered in ISKCON images and messages."

Not really. Sure, they had paintings and whatnot on their record covers and shirts that may have been trademarked by Iskcon, but it’s not like the name of that organization was printed all over their stuff.

Yes, in the early days Shelter did a lot of canvassing for Iskcon. Yes, they (Cappo particularly) matured over time and stopped being so in your face. But if you listen to those early records with a little objectivity, it’s clear that there was genuine emotion and yearning behind what they were doing. To say they were nothing more than propped up missionaries (although I admit there was a missionary component to the band for a while) is pretty insulting. Give the guys credit for truly being inspired by something and wanting to change their lives. If they could do the whole thing over they’d probably do it differently but they can’t.

“To answer your question, Seeker of the Truth, some of the teenage boys at a particular temple were sexually molested (possibly sodomized, I can't remember the details) by a guru. This guru knew Shelter very well. I think it might be a guy who toured with them in the early days. The details are fuzzy, but Vic Dicara wrote a thing on his web site about six years ago about it.”

If you go read Vic’s thing again, he says it was one kid who was molested by another devotee living at the temple, not a guru. That doesn’t make it ok but what you wrote wasn’t accurate either. It’s also a bit of a stretch to malign Shelter for the actions of someone else who happened to be a member of the same religious organization. That's a really shitty situation but I'm not sure how you can blame anyone other than the person who committed the act.

Vishnu said...

Seeker Of The Truth laid the foundation, Jeffrey hammered it home. If you think otherwise or are still confused, then you are one of the following:

-A general hater of anything Ray Cappo does

-A general skeptic and critic of anything with any religious ties

-A bitter angry nobody on a blog comment section

HARIBOL MOTHERFUCKERS

Sergeant D said...

Seeker Of The Truth, you wrote perhaps the best summary possible of the whole 90s Krishna-core phenomenon-- well said.

I'm neither opposed to nor supportive of it, but it was definitely an odd, unique, and very interesting intersection of subcultures. It's particularly interesting to look back on it with (I hope) a little more wisdom than I had at 17 or whatever and see it in a different light.

Sergeant D said...

Vishnu for the win

Ben Edge said...

Jeffrey,

point well taken about the kid who was molested. I actually did try to go back to Vic's site to refresh my memory about the details, and I couldn't find it. Post the link, please!

What irks me more than anything about Shelter is how much of a hypocrite Ray was on all levels. The last thing I want to listen to is a guy like that preaching to me how I should live my life, when he doesn't even follow his own advice. What's the difference between that and a televangelist like Jim Baker?

Vishnu said...

Ben:

A. How long have you known Ray Cappo personally?

B. How many times have you listened intently to other people (who are less than perfect) telling stories about our HC heroes, and the gossip is so fun in juicy you just get caught up in the fun of it all?

(Suggested Answers):
A - You don't know him personally
B - THOUSANDS

*I think Ray Cappo himself would be the first to tell you he is FAR from perfect, is blessed/cursed with a desire to proclaim what he does know, and has simply tried to live a spiritual life based on The Vedas.

The guy has lived under our ridiculous little HC microscope for 25 years. He's not perfect. What you perceive as him saying "THIS IS THE WAY, I HAVE THE ANSWERS!" (while he does differently) - I perceive as "I'M TRYING TO FIND SOME TRUTH MYSELF, AND THIS IS WHAT I'VE COME UP WITH SO FAR" (and maybe I screw up along the way).

Live and let live. Dude never did a thing to you.

Dave said...

Someone wrote an excellent post on here about 6 months ago about the early '90s and the 'no fun' ethic that had taken hold in hardcore. The Hare Krishnas exemplified this perfectly - it's no wonder Ray and Shelter enjoyed the level of popularity they did - they were on the crest of that 'no fun' wave.

By the mid '90s this 'no fun' idea morphed into militant veganism and hardstance - early 20-somethings taking themselves oh so seriously. Put a religious veneer on that seriousness and you have your average self-important devotee type. They also had the staying power of any 20-something.. within 4 years most had moved on.

I have to agree with an early post that most Shelter material is unappealing today. While it's and interesting document of the times, I can't listen to it now...

Anonymous said...

We still have HC in nyc because of Ray and Porcell(and Straight Ahead). Without them it would have been a sad scene. Anyone who was there knows.

Burai Core Distro said...

"A general skeptic and critic of anything with any religious ties"

Absolutely. Skepticism is completely healthy, particularly concerning blue monkey gods.

Core values of hardcore? Let's start with anti-authoritarianism, something that does not jibe well with religion.

Anonymous said...

The number of replies here says it all. Like it or not, Ray Cappo is the most important and influential man in hardcore music. Oh you blind people...

str8ev said...

http://www.static-void.org/Zine/9/thk.html

vic's article with some more recent commentary attached.

Ben Edge said...

Vishnu,

You are correct on all counts. But I never claimed that Ray did a thing to me. I was talking about why the band Shelter has not stood the test of time for me, personally. That is all. I am merely tired of his act.

"*I think Ray Cappo himself would be the first to tell you he is FAR from perfect, is blessed/cursed with a desire to proclaim what he does know, and has simply tried to live a spiritual life based on The Vedas."

Televangelists also say things like, "We are all sinners in the eyes of God!" That doesn't make me like them or what they do.

We could go back and forth forever, but I don't see the point. Either you like you love Shelter, you hate Shelter, or you are somewhere in between (like me). I'm not trying to change anyone's mind.

Anonymous said...

I have a great story about getting chased by shelter's roadie in their van.