Blastitude 10
issue 11  dec 2001/jan 2002
page 3


by Tony Rettman


There are certain signals in life that tell you that you're getting old. There are the simple ones: aches and pains in the morning, strange bathroom odors in the middle of the night, etc. But then there is the painful realization that the very nectar of your youth has become nostalgia. I'm sure most of you out there won't be crying me any oceans and this certainly isn't a plea for sympathy. It's just that for the past eight (?) years or so it seems I've been immersing myself in any forms of underground culture that have preceded me, trying to nail down the intial spark that ignites independent thought and action. This personal quest for truth has sent me rummaging through many old hippy weirdo's garbage while they stared on bemused and questioning me. 'Why do you care about this crap?' was the usual question coming from their cookie-crumbed beards. I never understood their suspicion until now.
        Case in point: some young whipper snappers have released two volumes thus far of a compilation they call Killed by Hardcore. The title is an obvious homage to the bootleg Punk compilations that have been flooding the market for close to ten years now, but this time around instead of obscure snot nosed Punk crap, these kids have packed these things to the gills with obscure Reagan-era anger-bashing Hardcore. How dare they drink from my old chalise! My backyard (and it's a big backyard Jackson!) is now opened to these upstarts to not only bootleg a good chunk of records I used to own (before I discovered pot and the Forced Exposure mail order catalog) but a whopping amount of stuff I was still curious about. The peeps at KBHC have taken my roots and presented them better than I ever could. And I ain't mad at 'em. Hell, I'm grinnin' from ear to ear and punching holes in the walls of my apartment. In a day and time when someone who witnessed this music in its start can write a book on the subject and flub a major historical fact fifteen pages into the thing (sorry dude, Darby Crash O.D.ed in '80, not '79) it's a totally refreshing and mind blowing thing to see/hear a buncha folks with a wild amount of enthusiasm for the stuff. Does it matter they were in diapers when Deviled Ham poster boy Barry Hennsler screamed 'Midwest Fuck You!' from a Maumee, Ohio basement? Me no think so. These knuckleheads have taken the last true blast of folk art this country has ever witnessed (did I stutter?) and given it the respect it deserves. More power to 'em. But it still makes me feel weird. And old. And a little hungry...
        When you look at the cultural landscape of the early 80's, Hardcore was bound to happen. A lot of kids had serious blue balls over the (somewhat) non-closure of 'The Punk Rock Explosion'. For all its populist rhetoric, Punk Rock was full of hot air. Joe Strummer might as well been Billy Squier. The tunes might have been potent, but they weren't YOURS. The first major U.S. jaunts by The Dead Kennedys and Black Flag in the spring of 1981 spread the urgency of the music throughout the country and that's when a majority of kids took the ball and ran with it. The first stringers of this uprising (D.C., The Midwest, etc.) made excellent records, but, like any other culture, it's the lesser knowns who usually prevail in making true objects of intrigue. To me, ineptness and an unusual amount of spirit spawns something way better than the intial object that inspired it. Hence why something like Stone Harbour's Emerges is a way more spiritually rewarding record to listen to than the first Uriah Heep record that inspired it. And hence why most of these records highlighted by the KBHC crew are more urgent than Lee Ving's last colon cleaning. Catch my drift? On the other hand though, being a little more 'versed' in the musical situation at hand here makes me wonder about some (just some) of the choices made by the KBHC crew. I do have a fondness for utter crap, but when something's crap, and I know it's crap, it's a different story. It makes me wonder whether all the bootleg Psych compilations I've collected over the years might actually hold the Chronic Sick's and T.M.A.s' of their generation. Hmmm...anyways...

The first installment of KBHC starts off jackboots-first with a track off the scalding eight track 7" released by NYC's Urban Waste back in 1982. I always saw Urban Waste as sort of a lost 'brother' band to D.C.'s kings of cacophony, Void. Guitarist Johnny Waste's phased and distorted crunch double-barrelled with singer Kenny Ahren's psychotic screech was/is the perfect soundtrack to apocalypse. Sonny Sharrock, Bubba Dupree, Kenny Waste, what's the diff??? Anyone with a substantial answer to my quandary will get three gold stars and a patented Al Barile 'pig pile'.

Urban Waste      Urban Waste

Although I believe Hardcore to be a totally American creation, you can't deny the credibilty of those fuzzy foriengers. I suppose Discharge were their version of Black Flag and you can't get around that with the tracks presented here. Terveet Kadet had the best white-out created logo of any band to come out of Finland in the 80's and I think that says a lot. Not only that, but their brash bashing would make Cal's hair go limp. Yeah, they were that good. I was always curious about their later records on Rock-O-Rama in both a musical and aesthetic way. The Swedes in Sound of Disorder one-up T.K.s' Discharge worship with a track off their 7" from '85 that sounds like an army of lawnmowers patched through a Marshall stack while a psycho bashes away fast and furious on the skins.

Now back to the good ole U.S.A. (Someone cue up The F.U.s' please...) I remember having the same exact 12" by this band The Left that ends off side one. I probably bought it 'cause I thought the cover art was cool and then decided I didn't like it and traded it off. What I was thinking then I don't know 'cause this stuff sounds pretty boss at the mo'. It certainly isn't the most H.C. thing I've ever heard in my life, but it's an infectious mid-tempo thang that reminds me of the smarminess of The Angry Samoans and brings to mind the notion a wise old dude layed on me one day that H.C. was the logical conclusion/answer to The Dictators Go Girl Crazy!. Far fetched I know, but when you got the time on your hands to pontificate on this crap, it makes sense.

SoCal's America's Hardcore might of had the stupidiest band name in the history of music bar none, but that's not the only reason they've intrigued me all these years. For a band that never even put out a 7", they pretty much earned their status as a legendary band due to their name getting out to the kids on a very grass roots level. I remember every touring band I saw in the summer of '84 having A.H.C. stickers plastered all over thier gear and Jeff Nelson sported their t-shirt on the back cover of Minor Threat's Salad Days e.p. What songs they had on compilation were interesting enough. The chap who wrote the liner notes here makes a keen observation of equating both A.H.C.s' sound and philosophy as a merger between the Anarcho-Hippy Punk of Crucifix and the Pet Puppies Positivity of early 7 Seconds. I recall seeing an ad years ago where the H.C. re-issue label Grand Theft Audio announced an America's Hardcore CD in their 'Coming Soon' section, but I've yet to see or hear of it. If anyone in Blastitude land knows more about this (And I'm so sure you do) or anything else about this band, please let me know.

As far as I know, NYC's Nihilistics and Oklahoma's N.O.T.A. still exist to this day. None the less, I think it's pretty common knowledge they'll never live up to the tracks presented here (I get the feeling I should expect a turd in the mail from either band any day now). NYC's Nihilistics were/are big, bald scarey dudes who didn't take to any of the agendas just blossoming in the H.C. scene in the early 80's. They were simply pissed off and saw no hope (hence their moniker). Their lp released on Braineater in '83 had a big impact on me as a tot and I don't think that was a good thing. The compilers of KBHC and I must be on the same spiritual level as they picked my fave tune off the lp, 'Black Sheep'. But then again, how can you deny a tune that sings about both spitting in your granma's face and performing sodomy on your sister? Tell can you?!?!??!
       Oklahoma's N.O.T.A. put out two 7"s' and one lp back in the early 80's and all of them smoked. The cut on here (Takin' Away Your Rights') is a perfect example of their pimple faced, bare headed, no frills aggro. Perhaps for a future KBHC the dudes can deem the tune 'Redneck Mentality' off their lp worthy for consumption...The first volume of KBHC winds down with a track from The State, a band outta Ann Arbor, Michigan who released their 'No Illusions' e.p. on their own Statement label back in '83. State might of been the first of the bald headed legion to touch back to the first wave of alienated U.S. youth by having Ron Asheton of The Stooges produce them. Ron knew the vibe well and did a fine job on this single that might not be as well known as The Necros 'I.Q.32' 7" but stands as a fine example of Midwest 'Core. As I listen to this track, I just cant believe I sold this record at one point. I'm pineing for it the way a normal dude does for the girl that got away. I probably went out and bought a Richard Youngs record with the money or something. Man, I'm a dope...

Oklahoma's None of the Above

The cover of the second installment of KBHC is a high-larious take off on the 'Hardcore Takes Over' compilation that the infamous Dirt club released back in '83 or '84. I remember purchasing this record at The Quakerbridge Mall when I was a wee nip and even then I thought it sucked and that it was stupid. Whether or not it's a 'period piece' is up to the kids I suppose. To me, it will always suck. Except for the Phil Scalzo Band of course...This edition of KBHC seems to concentrate more on the You're-A-Peein' side of things, so I guess I get a bit of a lesson here...
       Holland's ZMIV start things off with a guttural punk anthem about how they have no desire to be famous. Well guess what? Your existence is only known by a few dateless record collectors. Your wish is our command. Something tells me these guys listened to a lot of singles released on England's No Future label while they churned butter. Luckily their ineptness prevails and they provide you with so much more than any soccer hooligan could ever give you. Japan is not in the Europe, but it's not in the U.S.A. either, so the Ikka Shinjyuu track on here from '85 falls into this ghetto by both default and my laziness. I could swear these guys are using a drum machine, but I could be wrong. None the less, they sound like Big Black if the wanted to be Die Kreuzen instead of Trent Reznor's future wet dreams. Hardcore's answer to Metal Urbain??? Who needs Krautrock when you got Vorkriegsphase? It sounds like Germany's finest Discharge clones spent all their recording money on those big mugs of beers those krauts love so much 'cause the guitar sounds like a cross between someone rubbing two bricks together and a wet fart and the drummer sound like he's playing two wet paper bags. As you can imagine, the results are top notch. The two tracks presented on this compilation by Holland's Agent Orange and Sweden's Ernst And The Edsholm Rebels are from two 7"s that have haunted me for many years due to them being the two records I could never identify on the cover of Poison Idea's Records Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes 12". Well, not only do I know what they are now, but I can hear them too. Yes, I live a pathetic life. One earful of either band makes it obvious what Piggy C. and the boys saw in them, especially Agent Orange, as their track on here (The title cut off their 'Your Mother Sucks Cock In Hell' 7") sounds like an out take form P.I.s' 'Pick Your King' 7" sped up and drowned in a 40 of Olde 'E'.

The KBHC crew's picks on the homefront are stellar as well and gots me diggin' out my old spike bracelets with matching bandanas. I recall Portland's E-13 from the Drinking is Great compilation, but I don't remember them having such a Black Flag fixation. The singer hadda good Ron Reyes/Keith Morris hybrid going for him and the guitarist might as well be playing through a clear Dan Armstrong. Good show! Now we get to the section of the record of singles that I've actually kept over the years, so you know this is good stuff. The Mecht Mensch record I kept for two reasons. Firstly, it showcases the production debut of Sonic Youth/Nirvana and Shirley Manson kootchie looker (we can only hope on the latter) Butch Vig. Secondly, it's the audio equivalent of a bulldozer driven by teens drunk on suburban angst and sodie pop. Philly's YDI are a bunch I hold close to my heart. The 7" they released in '83 on their own Blood Bubble imprint, 'A Place In The Sun' is a record that is unique in it's olique hopelessness. Their admiration for 'Flag, Negative Approach and The Bad Brains is apparent, but the obvious conviction of the attempt and the distinct bellow of vocalist Jackal makes this the yardstick by which many collectable H.C. records should be judged. It was a wise choice to pick 'Mad at the World' to put on here as it conveys the overall feel of the disc. By the time I had any chance of seeing YDI, their guitarists were wearing eye make-up and fingerless elbow-high tiger-striped gloves. Bummer.

YDI "A Place in the Sun"    YDI "A Place in the Sun"

The Abused "Loud and Clear"    The Abused "Loud and Clear"

Before Reverend Norb would score teenage poon writing rambling columns for Maximum Rock 'N' Roll and fronting the poppity-punkity Boris the Sprinkler, he edited Sick Teen Fanzine and fronted the thrashing mad Suburban Mutilation. As the liner notes of this record imply it sounds like S.M. had more than a fondness for Detroit's baddest and baldest, Negative Approach. The track on here sounds like they were taking a stab at re-writing the N.A. klassik 'Can't Tell No One'. Even if it ain't the most original move, it's a valiant effort. Tennessee's Koro is the stuff from which H.C. legend is made from. A buncha sixteen year olds who put out a single in an edition of 300 in 1983 (?) that was tighter and faster than anything coming out of either coast of America at the time. Their precision makes me want to think of the Bad Brains, but it's obvious these kids were gobbling up everything they could get out in the boonies, and shitting out something totally of their own. This thing has been bootlegged more than a few times, and there was a rumour circulating a few years back that a member of the band unearthed a whole LP (!!!) worth of stuff that he was planning on releasing. I never heard another thing after that. Anyone who would like to fill in the holes for me, please do. I mean the holes in the story of Koro, not, you know...

Lastly, but certainly not leastly is NYCs' The Abused. This band was fronted by Kevin Crowley, a menacing dude who penned amazing artwork for all The Abused flyers (and I'm talking ARTWORK, not a skull with a circled A in it's forehead) and hadda voice that sounded like he shoveled gravel down his throat three times a day. His wardrobe only consisted of bike chains, construction gloves, and hooded sweatshirts. Very NYHC '83. The track on here is taken from the band's raging 'Loud and Clear' single. The KBHC crew's choice of 'No End In Sight' is a good 'un, but I wanted to hear 'Drug Free Youth', so I could of at least started a pit in my living room and given my landlady something to really complain about...

A little boid has told me to expect more editons of KBHC on the horizon, and I most certainly will. If the creators of this series are reading this (I'm sure these guys puruse avant rock websites day and night) may I make a few suggestions??? Ohio's Chemotherapy (a record I've wanted for about 17 years now), New Mexico's Jerryz' Kidz, New Jersey's Cyanamid, Mental Decay, and Futile Effort (please, no more Mutha crap!), Maryland's The Bollocks, D.C.'s Beaver, Texas's Marching Plague, Florida's Sector 4, and too many more that I can't recall off the top of my head at this late hour. For now, I'll just hope there's a generation of record collecting H.C. kids that are planning to 'mature' soon. Then I can trade off all my Free Jazz lp's for Antidote singles, and I'll be a happy man. I can dream, can't I?

next: The Wigmaker in Eighteenth Century Williamsburg