Thursday, March 18, 2010

V.A. Faster, Louder: Hardcore Punk Vol. 1

It's become a touch quaint to rehash how punk or hardcore changed one's life. The whole narrative that begins with one borrowed record or one accidental gig and ends with some Damascus-like vision has passed into the realm of the old war story. Bookstore shelves strain under by tomes like Clinton Heylin's Babylon's Burning or Steve Blush's American Hardcore that re-tell such punk rock epiphanies ad nauseum.

So what if the course of your life was altered by punk? What then? Do you wave those old stories around like a flag, in an attempt to make real that sound and fury to those unaware?

You're damn right you do.

You do so, even at the risk of sounding as ridiculous as Steve Martin does in the movie The Jerk, relating his first experience with music that he understands:
Navin's {Steve Martin} bedroom, at night]
(Navin can't sleep, he's listening to the radio.)
Announcer ... and that concludes this Sunday night gospel hour. Live from the Four Square Gospel Church of the Divine Salvation in St. Louis, Missouri. The Reverend Willard Wilton, pastor. And now music throughout the night, music in a mellow mood.
({Light pop} music is playing on the radio. Navin turns on his light, his toes are tapping to beat. His fingers begin to snap, first the left, then right. He gets up out of bed, slips his slippers on; all the while dancing and moving to the rhythm. He leaves the room.)

[Grandma's room]
Navin Grandma! Grandma! Look! Look at the radio! Turn it up! Turn it up! It's unbelievable! I've never heard music like this before! It speaks to me! Taj, Dad, this is unbelievable! Now watch, watch! Well if this is out there just think how much more is out there! This is the kind of music that tells me to go out there and be somebody!

A good story about music is always worth telling. I had a neigbour a few years back, a student at the local college. He stopped to introduce himself one day and told me his name was Salif. I mentioned I knew that name because it was that of a famous African singer, Salif Kieta. Well Salif lit right up and said "He is from my country, Salif Keita". He proceeded to tell me all about the man and his music and the nation of Mali. The response was fascinating, the way Ken Burns explaining Jazz so thoroughly can be, because sometimes the narrative is as compelling as the music.

That's not the preamble, that's the bulk of today's context - a justification of what we do. Today's offering is the unofficial follow-up to D.I.Y., the two-volume Faster, Louder: Hardcore Punk.

It's strange that since geography and chronology were defining traits of hardcore, that this compilation features a seemingly random selection of great songs from San Francisco, Michigan, D.C., Minneapolis, Austin, Boston, L.A. and...Vancouver recorded between 1979-1983. (And while I won't begrudge Suicidal Tendencies their place here, should they really be track four on Volume One?) Many of you probably once made or owned a tape this good (a friend of mine recently reviewed the contents of one of my old, old works, a TDK SA-90 embarrassingly titled Hardcore Hank's Happy Trail Tunes). Sure, our mix-tapes never got distributed by Warner Brothers or had the narrative tucked right into the case but they did for punk rock what black rats did for the Bubonic Plague. Ah there I go again, telling old war stories...

V.A. Faster, Louder: Hardcore Punk Vol. 1 link is in the comments



  2. enjoy these last posts immensely, same as i do your writing. ace work, thanks for putting in the mileage.

    true re 'the punk rock epiphany' - you never forgot what really moved you once, or shifted your shit around.

  3. Philippe from FranceMarch 18, 2010 at 3:48 PM

    Great record !
    I hate hardcore though !

  4. Used to play these at a bar i worked at , good stuff .

  5. Talking of Steve Martin,( that movie is an all time fave, (along with the Unknown Comic's 'Night Patrol')..he is a great banjo player, saw his appearance on BBC TV Jools Holland's 'Later', and bought the CD...Awesome!!!

  6. ksn
    Glad you liked the words, they were carefully considered.

    Glad this album can challenge anyone's dislike of hardcore.

    That sounds like a bar I could get into hanging out it in.

    I grew up on Steve Martin, mimicking his routines (i.e. the one where his cat gets a hold of his credit card) and singing along to "King Tut". Quite the talented man, too bad about all those shitty movies...


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