DEAD LETTER BLUES
I often hear people remark how this whole internet business should have been around 25 years ago, in the "punk days", when everybody was writing loads of letters and sending eachother records, tapes, etc. Another remark that gets thrown around a lot is how "blogs are the fanzines of today". Here I beg to differ: when as a wee 16-year-old I started my own 'zine, I filled it up with whatever bullshit (bios, lyrics, doodles) I had lying around; it didn't really matter that much as it wasn't about content, it was about communication, walking up to people at gigs pestering them to buy my little rag. With this blog it's the opposite: I only post when I think I really have something to say, and then, sitting at home, sipping my Tullamore Dew and clicking my mouse, it disappears into cyberspace. All content and no communication.
This letter-writing stuff we used to do 100 years ago actually held a lot of advantages over today's emailtwitspacebook. For instance, you could wait two or three months before replying, and blame the postal service! Try waiting 2 months before replying to an email (which I do, in most cases); they'll think you're dead, or an asshole (or both). Also, the tapes/ flyers/ zines/ records that would arrive through Ye Olde Snail Mail were real artefacts that you could hold, look at and smell. Try smelling an mp3.
One of my most treasured cassettes ever was taped for me in 1986 by a certain mr. Ian MacKaye. Thinking about it now it amazes me how someone like him would even take time to reply to my stupid letters, let alone send me a tape of unreleased music! (Sure beats a myspace page.) I was totally crazy about the tape, must have played it 3 months on repeat, Embrace and Dag Nasty were my new favourite bands. Oh yeah, and then there was this old demo from 1982 tagged onto the end of side B by Deadline, a short-lived band that I knew from Flex Your Head. Back then I thought this was "just" pretty good old hardcore punq.
Funny how nowadays I find it hard to recall the chimey sub-U2 sounds of Embrace, but the Deadline tape has grown and grown to be an absolute classic! Much more powerful than their Flex Your Head tracks (although I liked those as well), but still sorta primitive, this is a perfect example of more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts hardcore. No overdubs, sloppy drumming, out of tune guitar, and yet it's so powerful and slightly sinister to boot, in a Mecht Mensch/ Tar Babies kind of way.
This tape was eventually released as a one-sided LP in 1989; I had a copy but sold it long ago; luckily I found another copy in the Dropstyle bargain bin last week! The mastering on the LP is incredible, the low-end jumps out of your speakers. Dischord have recently reissued it on CD, if that's your cup of tea. Anyway, here's some highlights... No, let me rephrase that: here's some randomly chosen tracks, as all 11 tracks are equally great:
Outside The Law