Welcome back dear readers. For the second issue of our endless journey, I picked a records at the last moments because my original choice been kicked off so hard, I couldn’t do anything. Not it is better or something, I’m not doing some sort of strange list right here. That’s not the point. I’d have done this review anyway, but I didn’t expect to be urged by myself to do it that quick.
I was listenning to the This Is Boston Not L.A. comp and here comes The Proletariat’s songs, now I’m writing this, it just blew me.
But, I have to say this is really weird, this compilation. The songs of the concerned band are stuck between some The F.U’s, Gang Green and you know the drill (if not, listen to this compilation, it’s a damn blast), like it has nothing to do here. I’m saying this because the first thousands times I listened to it (not less, I swear) I couldn’t understand it, I was thinking it was a glitch on the vinyl, or maybe they were shorts on bands and picked some of their friends project. You know, for me it didn’t sound like my definition of hardcore punk at the time, before I discover Embrace or Fugazi. And clearly, this band is still highly discussed, even nowaday, if it’s a Punk Rock band or a Hardcore Punk. I found it a pretty useless debate, and if this review lays down here, you know which side I picked up.
Now, why did I choose to review this LP and not Soma Holiday, which many people I discussed with prefered ? I asked myself this question and it came by to be really simple : Where Soma Holiday did good, Indifference did way better. At least musically wise, because the lyrics are greats on both records, believe me. Well you have to be a little bit a PC-Marxist fanatic like me.
The 1985 LP is for me the step between the raw, angry and powerful of the early eighties and the progressive, emotive and intelligent of the early nineties. I mean, over the mid tempo ultra-elaborated-but-not-so-much-riffs, there’s still this youthfull rage, because it doesn’t get boring or too much of a performence show off. It’s just raw feelings transposed on another scale (yeah yeah there’s a play word) compared to the Boston scene of that time. Or the hardcore scene in general. Some added metal in their jam, The Proletariat added progressive/pop. Songs like The Guns Are Winning, Better Man or Pride are just pure gold mine of beautiful riffs, but yet still so aggressive.
Leading the way for many bands on this genre, the piano or the xylophone on the songs are … weird the first ten times, but becomes interesting when you get into it and just shape this records, already full of melodies and thoughts. I used to think it was too much, but it couldn’t have been this good without it. Also notice prehistoric signs of this late nineties “emo” feels on songs like Homeland, mixed with piano and the melodic whatnot, you have the avant-garde of any bands labeled on the late category.
And the voice. Even though it sounds a bit like a punkier version of Morrissey’s, it just put a way too deep dimension to the music, like it’s blaming you for all the pain of the world. When I really started to like this band, I’ve been hypnotized by this voice, especially on this records, as its so raging and pissed, yet staid and mastered.
I still think it’s a little bit overproduced though, or at least for the time, it’s too clean.
Now, let’s focus on my favorite part of this piece : Richard Brown’s lyrics !
There’s a lot to say about it, but I’ll try to make it short, not for it to become too over zealous, but damn, it’s beautiful, it just give this record its most beautiful side. I do believe for the time, and even for nowadays, it was categorized as too politiced or too intellectual, but for me, it’s where poetry meet politics, and this is a hard task not to sing militant leaflet or too obscure scientifical lampoon or even just too sentimental impossible to understand lyrics. The words are as the songs writting, deep, intelligent but still intellegible. And it talks to anybody, about our lives. It talks about unemployement as much as racism or sexism, only cold facts, no negative or positive notes, no “humanity is fucked” or “the world is driven by stupid shitheads but it’s cool let’s mosh”. No, it’s just your everyday life, being exploited by the rich for their own good, where you have to be the best at everything. It criticize our world the way I like it.
I’m curious to know what the Lower East Side crew thought about those lyrics, wearing Skrewdriver merch and crediting nazi US skinheads. Maybe the boston/new york war started this way. Or not, forget that.
“home of the free, land of the brave
if only i could remember the refrain
and this is our national anthem
this is our homeland
where the meek may inherit
but only the strong will reign “
Living in France with all this nationalist bullshit happening, those lyrics are just actual to me, and echoes a lot in my everyday life, even taken out of their context. And a lot of great records do have weird lyrics out of their context, but not those one.
“on production lines
is it pride or is it fear
that produce the best results”
I’m still curious if the song Sins talks about specism or not, as it can be against war also, but I naively think it’s about sepcism because this records have to be nearly perfect. Nearly because it lacks a song about the Straight Edge. No just kidding.
I don’t have letdown about this part of the records though, and for me, those lyrics can hardly get better.
Some questions are left unsolved. Why on Homestead Records ? What is this weird website they got, was it made by them ? How did they ended up in the Boston Not L.A Comp ? It’s almost christmas and my birthday, who would be kind enough to offer it to me ?
Anyway, this is a crucial records, musically wise as much as lyrically wise. Countless bands can thanks them for their prehistoric emotive riffs, even Fugazi, and I mean that. This records deals with a highly rejected side of the scene, the progressive and melodic sounding hardcore punk, full of thoughts and experimentations, and also a not hidden love for marxism/socialism which emphasise what punks means to me : a rebellion against society and its crimes. It’s full of passion, of rage and calls for freedom. This how you do over-politicized-progressive-hardcore-punk.
N.B : As long as I don’t have this records phisycally, I can hardly find pictures of the piece of the internet, so if anyone wants to buy to me this records just got some pictures, I’m taking it.
“why are you a better man