Reviews

Chris Hubbard

Fatal Brutal Kontaktschuld EP

Debut vinyl release from this German band. Showcasing a cutting guitar tone, the intro to “Kintaktschuld” cops the riff from SEX VID’s “Footsteps” before kicking into an urgent and pummeling HC assault. Six short tracks that make their point and don’t overstay their welcome. Every element comes together nicely here: songwriting, recording quality, even the cover art (dino skeletons?) has an off-the-wall appeal. My inner sleeve here is numbered 255 so this one might be limited. Good stuff.

Agnostic Front First Warning LP

The earliest A.F. tracks don’t even sound like music to my ears. Everything—the riffs, the ultra-primitive drumming, the fuzzed-out string bend in the intro to “Final War”—is far enough removed from traditional rock’n’roll that I almost wonder whether these guys listened to anything besides the sounds of breaking garbage trucks and subway trains before they hit the studio. I mean, if Realities of War is a truncheon to the face, United Blood is like someone ripped the streetlight at 7th and A out of the f’n sidewalk and dropped it on your skull. If that’s your idea of a good time, consider this compilation, subtitled “The ‘United Blood’ Era Recordings, New York City, 1983.” All material was previously released on Grand Theft Audio’s Raw Unleashed CD a while back, and this LP shares many tracks with the superior No One Rules collection on Radio Raheem, technically getting away with the “several songs on vinyl for the very first time” sales point by including an alternate mix of the EP tracks. Anyway, it looks cool and features five different versions of “United Blood” on a single disc.

David Quinton Overlook Road LP

DAVID QUINTON cut his teeth as the teenaged drummer of late-’70s Toronto band the MODS (recently reissued on vinyl by Ugly Pop) before landing a gig backing STIV BATORS on his underwhelming post-DEAD BOYS work, Disconnected. Having penned that LP’s best song, “Make Up Your Mind,” QUINTON subsequently recorded a superior version for his own solo album, released in 1981 on Canadian indie Bomb Records. The twelve-track Overlook Road compiles unreleased tracks mainly from the early 1980s, including several alternate versions of LP tracks. This is slick power pop (with emphasis on the “pop”), including a couple piano ballads. If you’re a wimp like me who can hang with 20/20 or PEZBAND, it’s worth checking out.

Chronic Submission Sick of Reality LP

Hmm, I believe this is the third archival release of an ’80s Toronto-area hardcore band that I’ve reviewed this year. Not complaining. While their second cassette Empty Heads, Poison Darts (also reissued by Schizophrenic) captured the CHRON SUBS in tighter, proto-crossover form, its predecessor Sick of Reality is pure early-’80s HC—25 blasts crammed into a 45 RPM 12″. High intensity, very high trebly recording; a mainly thrash-speed attack with abbreviated Ginn-esque guitar leads offset by a few mid-tempo tracks to provide a chance to catch your breath. But really…one look at the grainy B&W photo of a pissed-looking teenage skin will probably give you a decent idea of what this sounds like, and whether or not you’ll like it or not.

Wall Breaker Democracy Dies LP

It’s hard to go wrong opening an LP with a sick instrumental. WALL BREAKER’s debut LP delivers a dozen tightly wound, politically charged HC blasts, pulling a range of ’80s influences into a contemporary sound without trying to mimic a particular style or era. The slower, heavier riffs here are particularly effective, burned into my brain after just a couple spins. Excellent.

Micro Edge 1983 Demo LP

Cool excavation of youthful Toronto hardcore from the erstwhile Ugly Pop label (who’ve assembled some quality archival works in the last several years). These recordings, supposedly compiled from not one but three early ’80s sessions, have been kicking around the cassette-trading/file-sharing underground for a bit and are now seeing their first proper release. The LP opens with a BL’AST-esque stomper before kicking into thrash-speed intensity. If This Is Boston-era GANG GREEN is your shit, then you need this. There have been some questionable ’80s HC reissues lately (NEGATIVE ELEMENT demos?) but MICRO EDGE delivers the goods quite pleasingly, and at 45 RPM there’s not much room for filler. The sixteen-page “skate mag” booklet includes no lyrics, though to quote the liner notes, the vocalist “had a knack for catchy phrases about cops, greed, parents, skating, and of course…assholes” so you’re probably not missing any heavy political dissertations. One-time pressing of 500 copies and already sold out from the label, so buy now or regret later, eh?

Wipers Live at the Met, December 31, 1982 LP

Previously unreleased WIPERS live soundboard recording from 1982; seventeen songs including two that aren’t on any of their other records? I don’t think I could imagine a better description for an LP. And it delivers. Though recorded on the eve of the sessions for their Over the Edge album, this set draws primarily on classic Is This Real-era cuts (“Dimension 7,” “Potential Suicide,” “Tragedy,” etc.) and obscurities like the fantastic “Something to Prove.” I celebrate the band’s entire catalog, but Live at the Met is the WIPERS at their most straightforward, catchiest, punk-rock best. Absolutely essential. “This is for all you aliens…”

Frites Modern 6 Met 10"

Pretty bold move to open your debut EP with a cover of the Sesame Street theme song, huh? (Though I guess it has the effect of making the rest of your songs seem that much harder in comparison.) You might recognize this Dutch trio from the Welcome to 1984 comp, sandwiched there between the STALIN and UBR. The 6 Met EP was originally released on cassette in 1983; this first-time vinyl press was done for last year’s Record Store Day. There’s a distinct UK82 feel to the driving rhythms, eminently catchy riffs and singalong refrains—think GBH or SKEPTIX—but like the best UK-influenced Euro HC bands, FRITES MODERN ramped up the intensity for some real classic tracks like “Jeugdjournaal” and “Leugenaar.” Nice crisp recording, too. Grab this if you can!

Social Distortion Poshboy’s Little Monsters 12"

This six-song EP collects all the material from the 1981 session that yielded SOCIAL DISTORTION’s first record, the Mainliner single. (Interestingly, that debut was originally planned as a 12″ and made it to the test pressing stage before being downsized due to disagreements over the artwork.) You’ll find formative takes of tracks that were rerecorded for other releases (“Justice for All” renamed “It’s the Law” for 1988’s Prison Bound). In fact, all these early versions have appeared elsewhere themselves, so there’s nothing unreleased here. But it’s nonetheless cool to revisit this stuff — “Playpen” and “Moral Threat” are two of the band’s best early tracks. Worth checking out if you don’t have the Mainliner (Wreckage from the Past) LP already.

Lou Reed Early Lou: Pre-Velvet Underground Recordings 1958-1965 LP

OK, so this LP actually came out several years ago, not long after Lou caught his last train uptown. As the title implies, it collects Reed’s earliest work, and does a pretty comprehensive job at that—the two doo wop-tinged tracks by the JADES date all the way back to the late 1950s. It’s not entirely clear how much (if any) the teenaged Reed is on that recording, but he did at least write one song and co-write the other. Most of the rest of the material is culled from early-to-mid-’60s releases, during which time Lou earned a living writing and performing knock-offs of popular music trends such as rock’n’roll and surf. My favorite here is the PRIMITIVES, an ensemble also featuring John Cale, Tony Conrad, and Walter de Maria. Don’t get too excited, though—their track “The Ostrich” is a nice palate-cleanser on other VELVETS boots, but as the standout here, it’s not quite enough to recommend this LP to anyone outside VU completists. Also featured is a rare Reed solo demo of “Heroin” from 1965.

More Stupid Initials 9 Out of 10 Doctors Recommend More Stupid Initials LP

Who do we have to blame for the mass proliferation of three-initial hardcore bands in the ’80s? SSD? DOA? CCR? MRR? In any event, MSI most likely predates ATI (ANY THREE INITIALS) as the first to satirize the trend. Existing from 1986 until 1990, this band of Toronto-area youths churned out some decent meat ’n’ potatoes hardcore, and 9 Out of 10 Doctors compiles the complete 1986 and 1988 studio sessions from which their two proper EPs were selected. It should be obvious even before listening that MSI laced their musical output with a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek humor. Sure enough, the LP opens with a track called “Generic Straightedge Song,” and features covers of “Sugar Sugar” and a song from a Rankin/Bass animated TV series. However, unlike full-on joke bands like CRUCIAL YOUTH or GRUDGE, MSI were more likely just goofy teenagers. I’d imagine this lovingly assembled archival release, complete with a big booklet, would please fans of reissues by the likes of NEGATIVE ELEMENT or YOUNG REPUBLICANS. If you want something that dials the intensity up a bit higher, check out Schizophrenic’s expanded reissue of the SONS OF ISHMAEL Hayseed Hardcore EP (that band shared a member with MSI and really ripped).