Label: Rhino Records - RHI1 74192 • Format: Vinyl LP, Compilation Blue • Country: US • Genre: Rock • Style: Hardcore, Punk
This soundtrack, culled from a documentary film of the same name, simultaneously traces the musical and geographical progression of the U. Perdono - Various - The Best From The West 8punk rock was a decadent parody of itself.
As Sid Vicious was doing his best to off himself by heroin, many punks-- glue-sniffers, murderers, rabid leather spikers-- were on their way to joining him. Ronald Reagan and cocaine were ascending, disco was reaching its commercial peak, and the nascent post-punk genre hardcore was, to the extent that a bunch of year-old boys were capable of articulating it, a response to both the musical and cultural moment in which they found themselves-- a music and movement in negation of damn near everything.
So there's some irony to the current wave of hardcore punk adoration and excruciatingly thorough documentation: Though Henry Rollins and Keith Morris are now, finally, inviting you to feel their quarter-century-old pain, the music to which they wistfully reminisce is vehemently anti-neophyte. But the music was, at best, half the story; the rest was something more vague, an amorphous mix equal parts camaraderie, radical politics, and geography.
Hardcore bands were inseparable from the scenes from which they hailed. The Midwest became the working-class wing of the movement, while New York and Boston offered its thugs and enforcers. Canada and Texas provided the scene's scant sense of humor. And compilations sprang up from each like anarchist manifestos.
From its inception, D. Hardcore was synonymous with Dischord's Flex Your Head set, and when the city of Boston announced to the world that it too had a vibrant hardcore scene, it did so through a record deliberately titled This Is Boston Not L. American Hardcorea soundtrack Mama, You Been On My Mind - The Sound Symposium - Bob Dylan Interpreted from the film of the same name, is a very different kind of compilation than those founding documents.
Rather than strive to represent a specific scene, the curators of the film aim to represent the entire movement, tracing the broad arc of hardcore's musical and geographical progression. And if the soundtrack feels a bit clinical to those already familiar with the story, it's nevertheless an invaluable summary of a scene that did its best to defy easy categorization.
The soundtrack begins, slyly, with a debate. Who wrote the first hardcore song? Of the three, two are essential, whether primary or not: "Nervous Breakdown", from the Keith Morris era of Black Flag-- before Henry Rollins joined and Morris went Various - American Hardcore: The History Of American Punk Rock 1980-1986 to form the Circle Jerks after being evicted from the band-- is arguably the group's finest moment, but Various - American Hardcore: The History Of American Punk Rock 1980-1986 to Cum" might be the greatest track to ever emerge from the genre as a whole.
Bad Brains were older, smarter, and vastly more musically gifted than Black Flag or Middle Class, and they were inspired to the point of possession.
At a minute-and-a-half, "Pay to Cum" is the quintessential hardcore document: impossible speed, raging, adenoidal vocals, a fantastically apt, melodic and urgent three-chord riff, a chorus worth repeating for days, and not a single wasted second. The rest of American Hardcore brilliantly walks the tightrope between scene and chronology.
There's a prolonged stop in Boston-- cherry-picked from Boston Not L. New York would soon follow its lead represented here, mercifully briefly, by an early Cro-Mags demo. And last comes Flipper, a nod to San Fran, as well as a knowing implication of things to come; their grungy sludge augured both Nirvana Dave Grohl's early band Scream also makes a cameo elsewhere on the comp and a virulent strain of noise-rock.
And of course, the exciting coherence of early hardcore comps that repped scenes and held together both deep local friendships and common ideals is entirely absent here. But if American Hardcoreas a collection, fails to paint the whole picture, it does have one thing working in its favor: It contains more great music than any other post-punk-era document short of Wanna Buy a Bridge?
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