CVLT Nation’s Top Ten North American Hardcore Albums of the 80′s
By Stuart Ure
In the early 80’s, Detroit was a hotbed of activity in the punk scene. Local venues were plentiful within the Cass Corridor – an all but abandoned area of downtown known for its derelict buildings and high crime rate. It was the punk epicenter for the Detroit scene, with Clutch Cargo’s/City Club on W. Elizabeth, The Freezer Theatre on Cass and a few blocks down, The Clubhouse (a storefront turned practice space for local hardcore legends, Negative Approach). During a brief but glorious period, Detroit had a large and hungry scene and it was lauded as a must-visit city for touring bands.
It was here, in this filthy, crime-ridden city, that I was able to see these bands at the zenith of their respective careers. With a borrowed ID and the nominal sum of $4 or $5 dollars in your pocket, you could see bands like The Damned, Necros & Negative Approach sharing the same bill. Records were pressed prior to the tour, DIY sleeves were hand-glued and then sold from the backs of rusted-out tour vans (what I wouldn’t give to still have my original copy of “Walk Among Us,” purchased directly off of Glenn Danzig after one of their more infamous Detroit shows). And so it was that a respectable and much-beloved album collection was formed. Not every album was acquired at a show, but after seeing Bad Brains for the first time, you’d find yourself immediately sourcing every LP and single you could get your grubby little mitts on from the local record stores.
This is what I consider to be my Top Ten North American Hardcore Albums of the 80’s. It must be mentioned that many formative and important records didn’t make the list simply because they were released pre-1980. Of note, two albums by The Dickies, The Incredible Shrinking Dickies and Dawn of the Dickies, both released in 1979. It is my full intention to include The Dickies in a future post on North American punk in the 70’s. But I digress, … in no particular order:
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Start digging in your closet for that multi-colored Anthrax shirt (size XL) you bought in the mid-80ies, search for your Adidas high tops and better flip that bill of your cap because when the first note of this 7” resounds the laws of physics will be suspended: You’ll be immediately brought back to a time when bands like DRI, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, NUCLEAR ASSAULT or MOD merged Hardcore and Thrash Metal to create an urban soundtrack for endless skate sessions, wild mosh-pits and out of control house destruction parties.
FORESEEN’s new 7” Structural Oppression is stuck knee-deep in the 80ies and reproduces this classic crossover sound so well it’s hard to believe that those two songs were actually recorded in 2012 and not 25 years earlier. Besides sound-wise similarities to the aforementioned bands (and a shitload of others, I can’t help but think of the German Hardcore phenomenon TRUE BLUE for example) there are also the excessive vocals which are almost drowned in reverb and the downright hilarious cover artwork that totally support this 80ies-feeling. The sound of the recordings is quite rough, but very lively and direct – as I’ve heard these tracks have been recorded analogue, so that might be an explanation. And it’s great, most important.
Having an open mind is one of the greatest things that I have taken away from my teenage years. Hardcore during the 80′s was not a straight line, which meant you had bands that were on the same road, but took paths to get there. What was interesting about the scenes back then is that every state or even city had their own style of creating what we all labeled “hardcore.” The TEXAS scene was full of killer bands that were weird as fuck but were making some of the most interesting music of the era. The BIG BOYS were a band that I really grew to love; both their recordings & live shows kept me excited. Seeing them perform was always cool because it seemed like a big party – they would reach into their bag of funk and turn the motherfucker out! It’s hard to describe seeing a room full of hardcore kids dancing to the funky beat of “We Got Soul” (thinking about it puts a smile on my face!). Their front man Biscuits was in his own world of radness and knew how to get the crowd into the show. Another thing that made me dig the BIG BOYS was their love for skateboarding, which made me even love them more – plus they also had an awesome logo. Honestly I’m getting chills writing this post, because thinking about all of the times I saw them in Los Angeles I never knew I watching one of the sickest punk bands to ever do it. It must be said this band never got their just due when they were active, but their tunes can still rock a house party like no other. The other day I watched a documentary about them entitled Big Boys – Looking Back It’s Just Reflections from Light in the Attic Docs, which we are showing in full after the jump! Thank you Randy “Biscuit” Turner (R.I.P) and the BIGS BOYS for creating on your own terms – you influenced a generation to say fuck the so-called “normal” (we are all still Hollywood swinging)!
Love him or fucking hate him, you’ve got to admit that GG ALLIN was on his own planet of madness. From 1984 until his death, this rock and roll misfit did shit his own way. The impact that GG ALLIN had on underground music can be seen and heard to this day! Terror In America: Live 1993 is an 40 minute onslaught of this freak performing live! So after the jump check out GG ALLIN and the Murder Junkies spray their nasty rock on everyone!
I’m not even going to write that much, just know that right here and now, you can download a full set of MINOR THREAT, recorded live on 4-29-82 @ the 930 Club, in Washington DC. I will say this – if you are a MINOR THREAT fan, get this, blast it ultra loud and drink some milk!!!
As a youth, my homies and I were running wild in the streets of Hollywood and beyond. Some nights there were fights – Suicidal Boys vs. L.A.D.S – or our clothes were covered in puke because we could not hold our liquor. We would leave shows most nights with the L.A.P.D herding us which way to go. We could always count on punks shoving flyers in our hands, telling us where the next gathering of feral youth would be and what bands would provide the soundtrack to our mayhem-fueled fun! Graphics on these pieces of paper could make or break what the turn out would be. Many us young weirdos also used these historic pieces of paper as wallpaper to decorate our bedrooms. Today CVLT Nation celebrates the early 80′s punk flyer with a mammoth gallery that has flyers from all over the world. While researching for this feature, it reminded me how important Gary Tovar and Golenvoice were to the SoCal punk community – there will never be another punk promoter like this crew. Also, I didn’t realize how many insane lineups we got to see! Plus, since paper was the way we communicated with one another, these physical reminders of the scene will continue to exist for future generations to appreciate…I can’t say the same for Facebook invites or internet flyers. Food for thought – you don’t realize you are living history until it’s too late…So don’t take your community for granted!
Why were punk kids the enemy in the early 80′s, when America and the world faced way bigger issues than us? Society made us the little scapegoats instead of focusing on the threat of nuclear war, acid rain, growing urban poverty, Apartheid and the US-led conflicts in South America. If a T.V. show needed a villain, they would cast a so-called Punk Rocker to do the killing. This was a time when kids would get the shit kicked out of them for dying their hair, or worse, kids were shipped off to anti-punk boot camps. All of this negative energy from mainstream society just made our bond stronger, because we knew were doing the right thing by not feeding into the ideas of the masses! Today we pulled a vintage interview with Chuck Dukowski where he breaks down what was really happening to Los Angeles’ kids under the forces of police brutality. Also, we unearthed the 1984 Phil Donahue show where he tackles the punk issue. It’s really hard to put into words, but there were some really fucked up adults around back then that just wanted to oppress youth expression. Looking at the world now, the punks won and squares lost – DIE YUPPIE SCUM! Step back into the 80′s after the jump!
The year was 1989, and one of the gnarliest skate videos ever was released, SPEED FREAKS. This film featured insane ripping from Jason Jessee, Jeff Grosso, Jim Thiebaud, Salba, Natas Kaupas, Christian Hosoi and many more. SPEED FREAKS is killer to watch because it shows the viewer the beginning of street skating & radical pool shredding. When I watch this skate video, it reminds me of the time before the skateboard industry was a multi-million dollar business. SPEED FREAKS is also full of cool fucking tunes…come get your old school skate on and check out SPEED FREAKS after the jump!
HOAX creates the kind of punk that I straight up dig. Their live shows are short, destructive moments of anger-injected bliss. A couple of weeks ago, they performed at The Acheron in Brooklyn, and had the crowd in a fucking frenzy…Our comrade in video (((unartig))) was on hand and caught this mayhem on film. HOAX are about to head to Europe for a tour and are releasing a new 7″ entitled Caged via La Vida Es Un Mus (pre-order HERE). Check out their bombastic performance and tour dates after the jump!
Photos by Astrid Tonella
I’m not even going to write that much, just know that right here and now, you can download a full set of 7 Seconds, recorded live in 1983 in Hollywood @ The Cathy De Grand (this was a gnarly night, I was there). I will say this – if you are a 7 Seconds fan, get this, blast it ultra loud and start slam dancing!!!
7 Seconds 1983 in Hollywood @ The Cathy De Grand DOWNLOAD HERE!!!
Tracklisting after the jump!