Monday, August 31, 2009

Cro-Mags "Best Wishes", Analyzing Side A

Best Wishes is a a record that gives rise to a lot of strong opinions. Camps are pretty split on it, but it seems that in more recent years, a younger generation of HC kids has taken a liking to this record that wasn't as prevalent even ten years ago. What was once "the first metal Cro-Mags record" is now simply described in many circles as "the second Cro-Mags album...which is great." There's a definite legacy surrounding it, the legacy just seems to be in a constant state of flux and debate every few years.

One thing that is fair to this album is to simply analyze it without putting it in the shadow of the greatest NYHC record of all time, AKA Age Of Quarrel. John Joseph isn't here, Mackie's replaced by Pete Hines, and it's a different time with 39372028 various internal band beefs having taken place since 1986. Yet at the same time, Best Wishes must in fact be analyzed as the 2nd album from the Cro-Mags, so as to understand the back story and dynamic of the band and their infamy, and to lend a credibility that would not exist if this was just an album from a random band in 1989.

Tying into this is the realization one has to have regarding the origins of these songs and the fact that some were actually written while the Age Of Quarrel version of the Cro-Mags existed. As far as my sources go, it's not like Harley/Paris/Doug/Pete walked into Normandy Sound in '89 and said "ok, we need some songs." I think the groundwork and inspiration for at least some of them could be traced back to 1986, and that is evident in some riffs and structures. Obviously, Crush The Demoniac was written right around the time AOQ was released, but the others have glimmers of a previous era to them at times, even in light of how much may have changed between then and now (no pun intended).

Harley with the Cro-Mags, Photo: Jessica Gorman

But enough with the preliminaries...let's talk about the album opener, fucking Death Camps. While this isn't your standard slow mosh intro, I'm putting this EASILY in my top 5 song intros ever. A fade-up of double bass drum triplets and quads, a barbaric crushing open bass line, and then Doug/Paris coming in with blistering chords on and's pretty much the soundtrack to violently stealing something and then driving extremely fast from the police, and/or using semi-automatic firearms in the jungle, and/or walking into Blood territory in a bright blue velvet jumpsuit that says "Eff Tha Bloods." I recently learned about how this intro was created by the Mags, and while Harley's forthcoming book will reveal the story, all I can say is that it showcases the genius of the Cro-Mags.

The fast parts are Priest-like and ripping, a musical backdrop to the most compelling vegetarian lyrics to ever come from a HC band. Youth Of Today inspired thousands of straight edge kids in 1988 to pull a Tom Rock and drop their hamburgers (lost you? Check the No More video), but Death Camps paints such a darker reality for the carnivore listener. I'm not vegetarian, but if you had to pick lyrics from a HC song to make your argument, this is your starkest tune. Harley and friend Doug Crosby penned these lines (as well as many others on the record) and did a hell of a job with the imagery and alliteration.

My favorite part of this song, and of the record, is the face melter Doug Holland lights up in the last fast part before the breakdown that just peels your face off. Then they get to the breakdown, and he stops, almost as if to insinuate, "yeah, I just slayed you, you're done, mosh yourselves into oblivion...take it away boys." But then, the mosh part builds, and it's almost like he just said "ah fuck it, I'll kill them again" and just hops back in and drops more sick notes and trickery all over the place. One of the best mosh parts ever. No song would better open this album.

Days Of Confusion doesn't follow up as strongly as I wish it did, but it's still a shredding ripper that Harley has described as a Discharge-inspired riff fused into Paris-ized metal progression. The Krishna inspired lyrics that remain throughout the album are introduced for the first time here as well. The shortest song on the album at well under three minutes, it's over before you know it compared to the other 4 minute plus ragers on here. Not that it is under-cooked, but considering some of the more complex arrangements on the album and the never-ending feel of some of the other riffage, the brevity of this has always seemed a little suspect. That said, solid song.

Harley and Parris, Down But Not Out

The Only One has been considered often as the most daring track on the album, described by some as "the ballad." To me, sans Harley's vocal melodies and a few of the breaks in the song, it's just a long mid-tempo mosh seducer that could have been tacked onto Seekers Of The Truth to create the hardest song of all time. Not sure what this is worth, but Glenn Danzig once told Harley this is his favorite Cro-Mags song...which makes me like it that much more. Whether this is interpreted as a severe love song or simply a devotional to Krishna, the lyrics are probably the most direct and Krishna-heavy on the record, and Harley has taken his shots for them over the years. I may be alone in a crowd when saying this is a great song, but when I hear that opening bass line I want to simultaneously chant 16 rounds and take a gigantic chain with me onto the Irving Plaza dancefloor. Not many songs inspire me like that.

Down But Not Out is a straight up slaughter-fest. A Paris riff jumpstarts the song like a razorblade through your throat and while the song feels like it goes a tad long here and there with some slowed down parts that aren't necessary, it's ultimately a riff-fest the whole way through with Harley's bass constantly carrying everything. Oh, Pete Hines. It's no news this guy was just relentless, and while I'm not a huge double bass fan, he's just all-time on this album for what these songs are. Mackie is practically irreplaceable, and I think that other than adding a bit of a street feel at times and a little less by-the-books metal flair, Mackie would have played these songs pretty similarly had he been behind the kit.

More good lyrics on DBNO as well. For some reasons, I've always loved these lines and how Harley shouts them:

"Can't make your future or kill your past
With a spike in your arm or a shotgun blast
Till you have the strength to look within
You'll be fighting a battle you'll never win"

Any Straight Edge nerd could say those same things and it won't have the same type of resonance to it as when you hear it from a dude like Harley. Pretty legit stuff. I can't tell you how many times I've been bummed on something and someone asks me how I'm doing and the first thing that goes through my head, beceause of this song, is "Down...But Not Out." Then I want to put on the '89 tour shirt and dedicate my life to being a thrashing maniac.

That closes out side A. At that point you are taking in a Cro-Mags sound that is clearly different both musically and production-wise from Age Of Quarrel, complete with the huge, reverb-heavy, polished recording and Harley's vocal crooning and growling replacing the trademark John Joseph sneer. Everyone has an opinion about Harley's vocals on this and any other time he has sang. Personally, I think they sound pretty cool. Would I have loved to have heard JJ singing this stuff? Yes. But it is what it is, I dig it, and I think stylistically again, JJ wouldn't have been too far off from this had it been him in the booth at Normandy.

As the needle lifts off the vinyl, it's evident that this is the 1989 version of The Cro-Mags, and there's still Side B to listen to... -Gordo DCXX

Harley with the Cro-Mags, Photo: Jessica Gorman

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sue Cosby's Turning Point memories

Sue with the TP crew walking the streets of Philly, 1988, Photo courtesy of: TP

We've got the continuation of our extensive interview with Turning Point guitarist, Jay Laughlin coming any day now, but in the meantime, here's some memories from Sue Cosby (known back in the TP days as Sue Gendler).

For those of you who might be unfamiliar with Sue, not only was she responsible for taking some of the classic Turning Point photos on their first 7" and later the discography, but she was also co-editor of Inward Monitor fanzine. Sue also use to hang with the TP guys quite a bit back in the day, so we thought we'd check in with her to see what memories she had from those days. -Tim DCXX

Turning Point at Club Pizazz, Philadelphia PA, 1988, Sue in the far right corner snapping off some shots, Photo courtesy of: TP

Those guys were really great. Although my memories of specific moments are fuzzy, I do remember that they were so much fun to hang out with. They weren't the hard guys trying to intimidate people. They were talented kids who made great music without pushing the attitude. Seriously, you could not hang out with them without pissing your pants from laughing so hard at some point or another. The closest they got to being hard guys was a spoof - the infamous "Pool Hall Justice" stuff memorialized in a photo shoot in front of a pool table that was just freakin' hysterical.

I'm thinking my most vivid memory is that, as a group, they appeared to have lived for several years off "mexi-melts" from Taco Bell exclusively.

Reporting tip - Remember when people were releasing seven inches as "limited editions"? Well you need to ask them how many numbers 1-10 there were of their first 7" and see if you can get them to admit the real number ;-) I can tell you ... it isn't 10, but you didn't hear that from me LOL!

Classic Turning Point photo from Kennet Square, 1988, Photo: Sue Cosby

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A benefit for Jimmy Gestapo

New York City Hardcore icon / Murphy's Law frontman, Jimmy Gestapo has gotten himself into some legal trouble and is looking to the hardcore scene for support. I'm sure you can expect an entertaining Murphy's Law set, but this is suppose to be Antidote's last NYC show as well. On top of all that you have Stigma and you know you can't go wrong with that. Personally I'd be psyched just to watch Vinnie Stigma eat a doughnut and talk about the neighborhood, so I'd imagine the live set is priceless.

Make it out if you can, I know I'm going to try to pull some strings and be there myself. -Tim DCXX

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Billy Rubin on Uniform Choice

Dubar Screaming For Change with a young Casey Jones in the background, Photo: Billy Rubin

Billy Rubin hops back on board and drops us some memories to go along with some classic UC pics he provided to us. Glad to have you back Billy! -Gordo DCXX

I grew up on a street with a lot of kids that were sharply divided. In the beginning our division was between dirt biking and skateboarding/surfing. I didn’t realize the true nature of the division at the time, but it was good versus evil. Ya’ see, dirt bikes have motors. If you can move fast without a motor you are experiencing something much more pure and natural. I’m not a pure/natural guy per se but I know the feeling of front side air and can tell you that the sound of a motorcycle is right up there with a leaf blower.

Later on in our teen years the division on the street was between metal and punk rock. This is around 1981-1983. The dirt bike kids liked AC/DC and the skateboarding/surfing kids like the Sex Pistols. The dirt bike kids had to fuck with motors to get an adrenaline rush and us…well we could shred on anything and probably have way more fun. As we all grew up we used to have some pretty serious fights and those fights made the division wider. We started getting deeper into punk rock because we were inspired. We weren’t interested in Hell’s Bells or Stairs to Heaven and we certainly weren’t going to “sit” in an arena to see a long haired rockstar jack off a guitar. We were going to that part of town to be right next to the stage (if there even was a stage) and hear someone sing about something real. It became as much about a movement as it was about music. In fact, music was just the soundtrack to the movement.

Pat Dubar and Uniform Choice with Big Frank and Brad X (Doggy Style) in the background, Photo: Billy Rubin

On Dec 15th of last year I wrote a DCXX post that talks about how I came to know Uniform Choice. Wanting to be a part of something bigger than any one person is the backdrop for how all of that went down. The movement became the Straight Edge movement and in Orange County the soundtrack for the movement was Uniform Choice. Uniform Choice were real people. Their songs were about real things. You could find real examples everywhere, kids you grew up with were experimenting with drugs, the girl that you used to have a crush on was turning towards the dark side and all ya wanted to do was sing “when you’re on the street with a needle in your arm”. My parents certainly didn’t understand, they were too busy trying to make a living. Hell, I didn’t even understand. I just knew I had to do something and that something was go to shows, put out zines, be in a band, etc!

I don’t remember the first or last Uniform Choice show I ever saw because most of them blended together. I do know that if UC was playing ANYWHERE then I was going to be there. When I’d walk up to the place the show would be at I would profile the people waiting in line. If I saw a kid in a UC shirt then I knew he’d be there for me if I got knocked down in the pit. There would always be fights but never amongst the sXe kids. I knew that if a fight broke out during a UC set, they’d stop playing. Dubar was bigger than half the people fighting and Big Frank could handle the other half! We knew the score. We weren’t there to fuck shit up. We were there to make a point. The kids weren’t just alright; they were going to have their say. We were a minor threat! All clich├ęs aside, we were wrapped tight around a common cause!

Dubar's head on the verge of exploding, Photo: Billy Rubin

After awhile it seemed like I knew everyone at a UC show. Dan, Casey Jones, John Bruce, Gavin, and Mike Murphy would always be there and we’d see guys we knew from all over. When it came time for UC to make a record the same crew was there to do backup vocals. A band’s thank you list gave you instant street cred. The cover of UC’s first record is a painting that Gavin made of an actual live photo. In that photo/painting you can see me and Dan (I’m in the upper left corner and Dan is right in Dubar’s face). That photo was from a show at a shithole cowboy bar (I think it was called the Corn Husker) in a town called Azuza where UC opened for Government Issue and the Dead Milkmen. There were less than 100 people there. When I look back, I had to be the luckiest kid in the world. All the bands I saw in venues as big as a living room!

Another memorable show was UC at the Melody Dance Center in Long Beach. I think they played with Doggy Style and BL'AST! This place was a shithole and it was in a really bad neighborhood right on Long Beach Blvd. If our parents knew where we were going they’d freak out but we had to be there. The Melody Dance Center was super small and it was a true hardcore experience. The separation between the audience and the band was an 18” high platform. The only person running things was Big Frank. It was just a bunch of kids having a good time without getting high. If a fight broke out in a place like that it would be over in a matter of seconds.

When I look back on it, there were really 3 great years from 1984-1987. Salad Days for sure. As time went on, shows got more out of control. People would actually get stabbed or just beaten really violently. The core wasn’t soft but the risk/reward ratio was not in our favor. Many of us moved up-out-on and beyond. The impact that scene made is amazing. I look at the old photos and I see people in the crowd that went on to start bands that influenced millions (Rage Against the Machine). Books and movies have been written to document what was truly a phenomenon. I am lucky to still be in contact with most of the people from back then and I can genuinely say that I am proud of how we all turned out. While the other kids were out doing whatever it is they did, we all learned a code of ethics. We learned that a bunch of kids could accomplish anything if they tried. For many of us it all started at a Uniform Choice show where we learned to channel our energy into something positive. We were fucking punk rock and each of us will always have that edge over the next guy.

Uniform Choice at Melody Dance Center, Long Beach CA, Photo: Billy Rubin

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Best of Facebook's Old School HC group

Old school Boston "Pigpile" at the SS Decontrol, Gang Green, Jerry's Kids show at The Media Workshop 1981.

Al Barile in the back with the X's on his hands, Jake Phelps with the "Stick man" drawn on his forearm. Steve Grimes (FU's) with the green on his shoulder. Photo: Drew Stone

SS Decontrol at the Media Workshop 1981. Bob Furapples (FU's Drummer) in the red shirt leaning against the wall next to John Sox (FU's singer) in the Blue shirt. Jon Anastas on stage wearing the old school "Hand made" Teen Idles" shirt behind a sitting Al "Lethal" Barile.

Photo included in the upcoming "Oral History Of Boston Punk & Hardcore" by Drew Stone, Photo: Drew Stone

The Misfits in the Channel dressing room, Photo: Steve Risteen

Bill Wilson: Is this the club where the legend of Anthony hitting kids with a table started to stop a brawl?

Anthony Comunale: I tried to stop a fight and hit nobody.

Bill Wilson: Yes, that's the miracle of the hardcore grapevine. You tried to stop a fight and 3 weeks later you are the incredible hulk.

Anthony Comunale: That sucks because it was such a great club. The shows were put on by the Griggs sisters, Meredith and Nicky and I think Jenny Buck.

Salt Lake City, Utah 1989. Bad Brains, Leeway and Sick Of It All, Photo courtesy of: Joe Bossler

Monday, August 24, 2009

SSD on the streets of New Jersey

And I always thought it stood for Society System Decontrol... Photo: Tim DCXX

Driving north on Route 1 yesterday here in New Jersey I spotted a large orange sign on the south bound side with what appeared to have the letters SSD on the back of it. Now granted I have an eye for anything hardcore related, but this stuck out like a sore thumb. Not only did it say SSD, but they actually used the exact same SSD font (City Bold), at least that's the way it appeared as I quickly flew by the sign that was at least 80 feet away.

On the way home late that night I had to pull over and check out the sign and confirm to myself one way or another what I thought I saw. Guess what... my eyes did not deceive me. Of course I had to pull out the camera and snap off a few shots. Strange coincidence to say the least. -Tim DCXX

SS Decontrol at the Media Workshop, 1981, Photo: Drew Stone

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Poll results for favorite Judge track off of "Bringin It Down"

Original Revelation Records Judge Bringin' It Down ad

Here are some poll results I gotta discuss. Bringin' It Down...perhaps one of the heaviest (by every definition of the word) SE records of its era, and one that still sparks debates and varied opinions to this day.

Maybe eventually we'll do a full blown examination of every single aspect of this masterpiece, for now I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the results, especially because they were somehow in line with my own rating of the songs almost to a T.

The title track took the victory spot here, and was my #1 vote as well. With a blistering verse, enormous fast chorus, and crushing breakdown/mosh, this song clearly showcases JUDGE's absolute magnitude to write a song that makes me unable to decide whether I want to scream along at the top of lungs, dive off of every object in sight, or dance as hard as humanly possible. Throw in lyrics that (albeit a bit strangely) align drug and alcohol abusers along with racist bigots and wish the same fate upon both, and you basically have one of the angriest and best songs ever. The chorus lyrics during the mosh are some of the best SE lyrics ever, hands down..."A beer, a joint, like a gun at your head." Jesus. The original lyrics ended with the absolutely EPIC line, "You stay off the tracks when JUDGE is coming through." The omission of this on the actual Bringin' It Down recording is the only mishap here. If I could write a song half as good in this my life I would die content.

Porcell photo from Bringin' It Down, Photo: BP

The runner-up spot was also my selection, the album-closing Where It Went. Best known for the video and its consideration by some as the album single of sorts, this is in many ways JUDGE at their most progressive on the album. A heavy, dark bassline opens into a "pack it up front at City Gardens and put your fists in the air while GUS SE dives over you" singalong that almost brings me to tears considering I was born about 10 years too late to have done such a thing. The fast part of the song has a very "SE dudes listening to Leeway" feel and the slight cross-over vibe here is a good example of how JUDGE got pegged with the "metal" tag on the record. The lyrics here are Mike's best...if they don't hit you in some way, well then I've got nothing for ya.

I won't go into the rest of the songs other than to say that to me, there are no weak links on this record, just songs that maybe aren't as incredible as the others. I was a little surprised that Like You placed as high as it did (I love it but know that many don't) and that Take Me Away wasn't a second place winner. Porcell once told me that was one of his favorite songs ever (especially the intro), and I thought most people felt the same. I'd detail some of the background and tidbit info on the actual Normandy Sound recording, but I will save it for a later date and say that if you haven't checked that Decibel article, you definitely should as it gives some cool info.

Whether you are a fan or not, it's tough to imagine JUDGE gaining the notoriety they gained if the Chung King recording was the only representation of these songs. Whether the production is a little too slick here or not, Bringin' It Down has come to represent the JUDGE we know and love. Oh, by the way...


Bringin' It Down - 77
Where It Went - 61
Like You - 52
Take Me Away - 46
The Storm - 46
I've Lost - 20
Hear Me - 19
Hold Me Back - 16
Give It Up - 11

Judge at City Gardens during the filming of Where It Went, Photo: Ken Salerno

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kevin Egan - Beyond

Walter and Kevin hang outside a CB's Sunday matinee, Photo courtesy of Kevin Egan

I have a thousand great memories of shows. The one that's popping in my head right now is when I first saw Bad Religion. I had actually never heard of them. This was in '88 I think. Raw Deal was opening for them and that's who I went to see. I was catching a ride with Anthony from Raw Deal back to Queens where I was staying that night so I had to stick around until Bad Religion finished. When I walked into CB's, it looked exactly like those old PUNK/HC cartoon album covers where people are spinning in the air and flying off the walls. That's what it really looked like. And Bad Religion were just incredible. This was when "Suffer" (their best LP) came out and they were blazing through the songs one after another. It was an impression that has still stuck with me to this day.

Kevin and Tom with Beyond at the Pyramid Club, NYC, Photo courtesy of: Kevin Egan

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Revelation files

Cappo with Youth Of Today, photo was used on the Shelter "Perfection of Desire" LP.

We've been posting photos from the Revelation files since this past April and we're finally coming towards the end. We'll most likely be doing at least one more entry, but if you've missed any of these entries, definitely go back and catch up, there's been some gems.

What we've got here are a few photos used in record layouts and a couple random photos I found floating around Rev. Cut out the rules or call it quits... -Tim DCXX

Sammy eyes up the "Have Your ID's Ready" sign on the CBGB's door.

And down it goes!

O.C. Sloth Crew Allstar and DCXX contributor, Joe Nelson, hangin' with Matt BOLD at a baseball game.

Alex Brown, Dylan Schreifels and Lukey Luke ham it up for the camera.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Navy Jim Nargiso - Youth Crew roadie

Navy Jim between Walter and Tom Capone on the Beyond / Project X Niagra Falls roadtrip 1988, Photo courtesy of: Navy Jim

One show that always sticks out in my mind is the famous "Shutdown" show that happened at CB's: Y.O.T, Gorilla Biscuits and Side By Side. I remember that in the weeks leading up to it, CB's and The Ritz stopped stage diving and added more bouncers, etc. For some reason, at that show people were going out of their minds, I remember seeing guys hanging and swinging on the PA speakers that were chained to the ceiling!

At the end of the show the place went crazy and that was it for shows for a couple weeks. The next week in the Village Voice, the CB's ad just said CANCELLED for the Sunday matinee. It lasted a couple weeks but that was a turning point in the scene. YOT, GB and Side By Side on the same stage, with every kid inside CB's going fucking insane...that's a great memory.

Navy Jim makes his way across the Anthrax stage while Project X tears it up behind him, Photo courtesy of: Navy Jim

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Danzig at City Gardens 1988

Not to beat a deadhorse, but we had to share these great Danzig photos from their first show by none other than the legend himself, Ken Salerno. City Gardens in Trenton, NJ, April 1988. Again, a major thanks to Salerno! -Gordo DCXX

Glenn Danzig, John Christ, Eerie Von and Chuck Biscuits... the ultimate Danzig lineup that produced four phenomenal albums (Danzig I, II, III and IV). Ken Salerno captured the band in their very early stages playing none other than the stage of Trenton's own, City Gardens in April of 1988. Thanks to Ken for letting us share what Gordo and I believe to be one of the greatest eras of Danzig's career. -Tim DCXX

"There's all kinds of schisms in Satanism, but the thing I like about it is the quest for knowledge. Other religions are more like, 'No, you're not allowed to learn any of this. Only the select few are allowed.' ... I don't see any holy wars being fought in the name of Satan." - Glenn Danzig

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Poll results for favorite Big Boys record

Big Boys, Photo: Steve Risteen

My introduction to the Big Boys was through skateboarding and the Thrasher skate rock compilation tapes, volume one and two. Granted back then I pretty much loved every band on those first couple Thrasher comps, but once I picked up "No Matter How Long The Line..." at a record store in Phoenix AZ, summer 1987, I was a fan. Eventually I got my hands on "Lullabies Help The Brain Grow", and that quickly fell into regular rotation as well.

With this poll it was obvious that many of the readers either weren't familiar with the Big Boys or didn't care enough to vote, but really it didn't matter. For me it's just fun to mix it up and maybe even shine a little light on a band that a few people might not have noticed otherwise.

Thanks to those that voted and for those unfamiliar, check out this video of "No", the first track off, "No Matter How Long The Line...", one of my personal favorites. -Tim DCXX

Big Boys - "Lullabies Help The Brain Grow" - 58
Big Boys - "No Matter How Long The line..." - 23
Big Boys - "Where's My Towel / Industry Standard" - 20
Big Boys - "Live At Raul's" (Split with the Dicks) - 9

Randy "Biscuit" Turner fronting the Big Boys, Photo: Steve Risteen

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More stories from Joe Outburst

Joe with Outburst at CBGB, NYC, Photo courtesy of: Miles To Joe

Outburst drummer Joe Songco has been a big DCXX fan and is always floating us some great Outburst memories. We're gonna start running these more often as I think most people will dig them. The cool thing about Outburst is that from all of Joe's stories, it's very apparent that these guys were major NYHC fans first and foremost that just loved listening to hardcore, going to shows, hanging out, and being a band, too. Just a great vibe. Here's something to kick off our new run with him. NYHC in your face. -Gordo DCXX

When it came to GB, they were just the coolest guys collectively and individually. When Mike joined the band, we realized he had gone to St. Ann's with Luke, so that was his GB angle. Walter had filled in on bass on our first CBGB gig. Arthur used to come over to my house to listen to U2 records. When Arthur joined Underdog, Luke and I were Arthur's roadies for his first NY show at Irving Plaza. I remember Luke and I lugging his stack up on to the stage and helping him set up his wires & stuff. By the time he was almost ready to go, someone closed the side door to get off stage, so the only way off was to jump into the crowd. Arthur was like "just stay and watch the show from here", so we did. That was cool.

I also remember when AJ gave some of us on 14th street the rough mix tapes for Born To Expire. He told us we could play them for people but keep it to ourselves and not share them with anyone, so of course Luke's in my car trying to scam me into lending the tape to him so he could dub it.

Years later, like in 1997, Mike and I were in a band called Xtra Dry and even though I loved playing with Mike, I just wasn't feeling the whole band thing at that time. After a gig at Coney Island High, I told him I was just going to bow out and wished him and the band luck. Mike called Luke to fill in. Imagine that…Luke and I sharing a band!

The most memorable Outburst/Biscuits story to me however, took place backstage at CBGB after we had played this awesome show with them. During our set, George broke a string on his SG. George asked Walter if he could borrow his guitar for a song or two while our roadie re-strang George's SG. Walter was actually in the process of tuning up his guitar…whether or not it was ready to be played right then and there, I don't know. So we waited the few minutes to re-string George's guitar and resumed playing the set.

After we got our stuff off the stage, we decided to step outside and hit up St. Mark's Pizza for a slice before coming back to catch the opening of GB's set. Turns out that by the time we came back, GB was already into their second song, and trying to get to the stage area was almost impossible because the place was so packed. But as we make our way to the front, we can all see that Walter is playing George's SG.

Brian, who stayed behind to watch the stuff, tells us that Walter broke a string on the first song and just went into the back and borrowed George's SG. Brian says he told Walter "hey man, that's not really my call to make, maybe you should just wait or borrow someone else's guitar". So needless to say, George was steaming mad throughout the rest of GB's set.

At the end of the show, the first thing Walter tried to do was apologize to George for borrowing his guitar, but George wasn't having any of it, especially when Walter said that his guitar was unavailable just the set before when George broke his string. There's George and Walter going back and forth arguing while the rest of us are just so uncomfortable, staring at each other. This went on for about a good five minutes before they both calmed down. We had plans to get something to eat after the show, but that wasn't going to happen.

To Walter's credit, he did try to apologize immediately because he knew he had done something he shouldn't have done, but to be fair to George, nobody, not even Walter himself, blamed George for being so mad, especially since Walter had said no about his guitar. Eventually, George accepted Walter's apology and in the long run it was all forgotten. No sense in letting it go past the initial incident, but he was pretty mad the rest of the night.

A few years ago, I visited Civ's tattoo parlor out in Sayville to get some work done and we were reminiscing about that day. He remembered it like I did...being very uncomfortable!

Outburst piece, Photo courtesy of: Miles To Joe

Thursday, August 6, 2009

DYS, Suicidal Tendencies and Danzig videos

DYS - "More Than Fashion" at Love Hall, Philadelphia, PA, January 1st, 1984

Surprisingly this whole video week thing for DCXX has actually been pretty fun. with the help of our new contributor Agent A., so many great YouTube video links were sent my way. I know people like reading the interviews and show memories and dig the photos, but one of our goals here is to try and mix things up as much as possible. I know speaking strictly for myself, there were a few of these videos that I had never seen before and upon discovering them, it really inspired me to spend a little more time hunting down other rare gems on YouTube. Hopefully you guys, the readers, enjoyed this as much as I know Gordo and I have. I can promise more unearthed or at least seldom viewed videos in the future. -Tim DCXX

DYS - "Open Up" at Love Hall, Philadelphia, PA, January 1st, 1984

DYS - "City To City" at Love Hall, Philadelphia, PA, January 1st, 1984

As for my choice here, again it was another link forwarded to me by Agent A., of the Boston Crew's, Department of Youth Services aka DYS. One of my personal favorite bands, one of my personal favorite frontmen, DYS and Dave Smalley totally kill it here in these videos from Philadelphia's Love Hall, New Years Day 1984. I was planning on keeping my choice to one video, but really, all three of these make for essential viewing and I couldn't stop at just one. Honestly, it was hard to keep it at three.

First up is "More Than Fashion" and Smalley drops this one with a ton of energy. You can clearly see this was a guy that was fired up and at 1:32, he even goes on to throw up the Teen Idles style clenched fists / crossed arms as if to say, "Straight Edge in your fucking face Philadelphia!". So awesome.

Next up, "Open Up" and Smalley intros it perfectly, "Open Up Motherfucker!". At .36 someone hits the floor and gets piled on until the City of Brotherly Love punks pick him up and brush him off. Ya gotta love the dude in the McDonald's ski cap.

Last but not least, "City To Fucking City... Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Washington...". This is when the dance floor erupts, but again, in a Brotherly Love sorta Philly way. What a great song, if I had only been going to shows four years earlier, that half hour drive to Philly would have been a piece of cake (too bad I was only ten years old!). Play one of these reunion shows in the states guys, I'll be there. -Tim DCXX

Suicidal Tendencies at Jockey Club, Newport, KY 1985

Suicidal Tendencies, 1985, and the crowd is just getting warmed up during the first song…

When I Want More kicks in, around 4:10 (and right after…THAT is how to do a front flip!!!! I think some Olympics judge just raised their “10” cards somewhere on Earth), it is so awesome I think I need to paint a giant “S T” on the wall of my apartment and get that kid down the block to throw his skate through my tv….

Okay, I gotta go dive off the coffee table. -Agent A.

Danzig "Brand New God" 1994

Coming off of my caffeine-induced entry on a moshing/diving Richie B., it's tough to switch gears into anything that isn't legitimate NYHC, and I'm probably gonna lose some people with this one.

But the reality is that Danzig (the band) is one of my very favorites, and DCXX has yet to really dabble with too much coverage. It's understandable, because even though Danzig (again, the band) is a fringe part of our world with legions of diehard fanatics from the true hardcore scene, there's still a huge camp that finds Glenn himself totally intolerable post-1983 and his self-named band the epitome of all things cheesy. Whatever your position, I don't think Danzig has ever really been considered a hardcore band by the group themselves, and has never truly assimilated with any hardcore scene during their existence. Thus, I've kept my fanboy brain at bay on Double Cross, and so has Tim, who is probably equally a fan.

That said, my love for the man himself and the 1988-1994 version of the band is extreme even on a wavering day and deserves some press here. That era of Danzig is just a powerhouse; doesn't matter that an entire generation of dirtbags and idiots bastardized the greatness of "Mother," or that the band played a lot of terrible looking daytime outdoor festivals, or that they are the one band every goddamn drunk idiot knows when you wear their shirt in public. Let me talk at you and get specific:

Danzig I - flawless record. Took the blueprint of Samhain, stripped it down, built it up, and hit a grand slam with it. Probably one of my most favorite productions on any record ever. Even if Rick Rubin is deemed utterly irrelavant in 2009, I consider him worthy of sainthood for his input here. Need an incentive to put on a leather jacket and attempt interesting things with your jawline? One listen to "Not Of This World." Want to pursue a hot stripper from North Jersey that has jet black feathered hair, a three-color lower back bull's eye tattoo, and an ex-boyfriend doing a 12 year bid upstate for meth distribution? Blast "She Rides" at full volume. Want to steal a motorcycle from a Warlock or just put someone in a coma? "Twist Of Cain," period. Chuck Biscuits is my favorite drummer. 1988-1989 Danzig = rock boner.

Danzig II: a little more metallic, a little slicker, and still completely capable of making me decide that walking into the grocery store with my shirt off while wearing mirror aviators, black 501s, and a Beasty cross while smiling at NOBODY is a totally acceptable move. Chuck Biscuits is still my favorite drummer. Wedding Crashers popularized the fun-line "sexual and violent," but this record defined it.

Danzig III: actually a close tie with the first record for my favorite album. Heavier production, thick as hell, good diversity...just rock power. It's 1992 and yet it feels completely unphased by anything awful going on within the music world at that time. Did I mention Chuck Biscuits being God? I put this record on when I'm in the gym and things literally just go black.

Danzig IV cover art

Danzig IV: Uh-oh. Things are starting to get weird. Some absolute monsters on here, but some questionable stuff is creeping in. Post-recording, Chuck Biscuits would bail with sources telling us he would hole up in his house for the better part of the next 15 years, and then that gave way to John Christ and his BC Rich ("The BITCH") hitting the highway when Danzig said it's "my way." Even the most loyal fans cite this as the beginning of the end with Danzig losing some of his voice, creative vision, and even his physical prowess.

But...even if you consider Danzig IV to be the band's last decent album with clunker tracks, you can't deny the power of the album opener, "Brand New God," which to my ears is basically a raging hardcore song with a Black Sabbath bridge/middle that basically allows you to catch your breath before returning to a place known as Destruction.

This video is just all out power with Biscuits destroying on the drums (possibly one of his later shows with the band), John Christ shredding like a 225 lb satanic priest (2:22 = best sound ever), Eerie Von reminding us "Hey, not only do I have the sickest collection of Misfits photos in existence, but I can wear a velvet shirt with lace and STILL slit your trachea open," and Glenn himself showing off one of the best voices in history with a presence that makes him look twice the size of his true 5'3 stature (5'6 with the lifts) every time he does the patented "my-God-am-I-feeling-it-so-I'm-going-to-hump-the-air-that-is-in-front-of-me" move.

I love Danzig and this is maybe the best evidence why. I don't even care that it is on a fully barricaded arena stage on a Tuesday night in Indiana in 1994...when Glenn yells "BRING ME THE RAIN JOHN-O!!!" over Christ's nun-burning feedback, I'm smashing my head into the wall, pretending it is a legion of Marshall full stacks, and that I have Wolverine-like sideburns and legitimate chest hair. In reality, I am pretty much the safest, cleanest, most all-American looking jock/prep type in the world, and I'm sitting in my house browsing the new Crate & Barrel catalog for high-thread-count cotton sheets. Kinda goes to prove that the psychological transformation as a result of prime-time Danzig video/audio is unreal and comparable to what I imagine the effect of PCP is like on the human brain.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Cro-Mags footage from "The Beat" / The Richie Birkenhead breakdown

Cro-Mags "It's The Limit" and "Hard Times" footage from the 1986 film, The Beat

Our boy Andy O aka Agent A. comes direct from Canada to intro our posting of one of the greatest pieces of film ever captured: The Cro-Mags footage from The Ritz featured in "The Beat." Andy lays the groundwork, while I dissect Richie Birkenhead's appearance below. Special thanks to Ed McKirdy over at Livewire for the Richie screen grabs. HARD TIMES. -Gordo DCXX

Late 1986: I was in grade Seven. It was a snowy Friday and I was paying my paper route collection to the district manager in this parking lot. I had in my hand a tape this grade eight punk guy (who later became a best friend and who’s house I’d often crash at after shows) lent me, telling me I needed to hear this band. It had a red cover, with a picture of a nuclear bomb detonation on the front, with “The Age of Quarrel” stated in stark cold-war bleakness across the bottom of the tape album cover. “Cro-Mags” was across the top, somehow seeming even more powerful than the image of the nuclear explosion (as the music on it turned out to be!). After giving the paper its due, I headed toward 7-11 for a Friday night slurpee, as I shoved the remaining cash into my pocket (all magical thirty two or whatever dollars it was! Hell, if I was careful, that was a few 7-11 trips, a movie and enough left over for a comic and an album!).

I put the tape in my walkman, hit play, and was within a few seconds hit by all 345 megatons of We Gotta Know. The world for me changed that day. I am sure you have all had those crushing moments when a piece of music pushes you past who you once were into some new previously unknown time and place. I STILL get that rare feeling when some song really strikes home. That was one of those moments, times ten, and I will to my dying day remember that fireball shockwave of first hearing the Cro-Mags. Thanks to older friends I had already been well introduced to all the usual suspects of Minor Threat, D.R.I., Motorhead, Dead Kennedys, FEAR, The Accused and many more incredible bands, I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever felt the pure solid, knock you down and punch right through your chest IMPACT of a band more than that first time I heard the Cro-Mags.

Incidentally, this parking lot was about a ten minute walk from the “infamous” (and up to that night, for me anyways, mysterious) “Cro-Mags Tree”; a large tree that had “Cro-Mags” spray painted on it.

I missed their two shows in town with GBH (one of which is documented on a bootleg that floats around the world…”Live at Wellingtons”), but older friends I have since met to this day talk about how much the Cro-Mags demolished everything. Somewhere there’s VHS footage of at least one song (if my memory is right it is from the Le Rendezvous show) and it is truly incredible. One older buddy of mine told me all he had heard was “Wait til you see this band from New York…I saw them last night…you have no idea what you are in for….” and to this day says it is one of the best bands he’s ever witnessed.

Enough about this…if you are reading this blog, there is a high probability you have your own incredible “First time I heard the Cro-Mags” story (and probably far more exciting if you actually got to see them at that time). I suggest you revisit that memory! If you’ve somehow found your way here but never heard the Cro-Mags, then you have one up on the rest of us; you still get to hear them for the first time.

Now to the footage! I need to at least sprint around the block three times after watching this and then go attack a gym (or look for an Urban Cro-Mag Training Obstacle Course to navigate and conquer!!) and this footage somehow gets better every time you watch it.

1986 Cro-Mags (yes, from the same show they shot the We Gotta Know video) from the 80’s movie The Beat (as the “Iron Skulls”). John Joseph’s story about the filming of this alone is worth the price admission to his powerful book.

It’s The Limit kicks it off, then Hard Times EXPLODES!!! (with I believe the Krakdown singer contributing some backups at one point…and ten points to whoever flips OVER John Joseph….). The band is like combat unit. Harley, Doug and Paris are totally locked in and sound more intense than being inside of a pounding 50 cal. machine-gun, Pete is clobbering the drum kit and filling Mackey’s big shoes phenomenally well and John Joseph is nothing short of Olympic.

And the crowd?! Enough energy to probably kick-start the Large Hadron Collider ( ).

There’s various youtube versions of this, but this version seems to be the clearest, brightest, and with the best sound. It is also sadly as I type this, with less than 100 views. Please change this number.

(note: the “jumpy” beginning is in the actual movie…all the pit action and diving is full-tilt after a few seconds…)

 -Agent A.

Richie Birkenhead 
:56 - 1:05 in The Beat

Ok, I'm not gonna pretend to be the first person who has ever dissected the Cro-Mags footage from The Beat, or even the first person to dissect Richie's appearance in this live footage. But it still deserves being thoroughly analyzed again, second by second. Even though I have done this all in my mind before, I figured I'd share it here. 

During It's The Limit, going into the crushing breakdown (aka the greatest part of any song in history) at :56, you can see the red shirted Birkenhead on the far right side of the Ritz floor, pushing himself up onto stage and getting a boost from someone in the process. Somehow even this alone, just these three seconds of action, look cool as hell.

By 1:00, he is fully on stage, and syncing up with the music, clearly already starting to realize that parts of his brain are melting and pouring out of his ears - thus the unbelievably classic head hold...a move that will be imitated and ritualized by young moshers over the next 23 years. The end of life (aka the crushing mosh part) are moments away, he's got the entire stage in front of him, and the energy of a shark eating a tiger at his fingertips...just holding his head wondering if he can keep it all together.

1:02 - boom...way too much energy and he just decides he'll let his brain melt entirely, it's too much too contain, thus the removal of the hands. He jumps up and is exploding now into a stage mosh en route to perhaps the world's greatest stage dive. But let's slow it down.

1:03 - the jump has now turned into the initial stages of a strut with another patented NYHC move, the triumphant 'Tommy Carrol-esque-fist-pump-in-the-air-in-mid-mosh-greatness' move. Done properly, it's probably the coolest looking thing ever. The fact that Richie's like 6'1 and could knock out probably 80% of all inmates at Rykers just makes it that much cooler. At the end of the fist pump, mosh greatness progresses as the same hand goes behind his head, he shifts his weight to one foot, and classic NYHC skanking ensues for a second.

1:04 - both hands now shift to the top of the head, again signaling the losing of the mind before final lift off into the crowd. It almost seems to serve as a helmet of sorts for a second before the lowering of the shoulders and final preperation for take off. The lighting has revealed camouflage pants and high top Nikes - aka the two best items of clothing you could ever wear on your lower body.

1:05 - airborne with a slight downward twist and roll of the shoulder, he actually pushes off with only his left foot, skipping over a stage monitor and another stage diver (possibly with a moustache?). He basically glides across the heads of the crowd on his chest, his fall broken by the sea of bodies going absolutely insane as Bloodclot's voice rings out the word "SEEEEEEE!!!!!"

While we never even see him land, we know there has been perfect execution. Even if not, it really doesn't matter. What he just did on stage is possibly the most awesome thing a human being could ever do during pretty much the greatest musical sounds ever produced. Study it. Live it. To do anything else would be the waste of your own life. -Gordo DCXX