What you’re about to read is the first post of a (infinite) long series. Every month I’ll make a review of what I, personally & subjectively, consider to be a crucial record, in no particular order, from every era of hardcore.
Let’s define what I, personally & subjectively, consider to be a crucial record : It will be all the records that shape hardcore punk, can be recognised as a must-know (and must-have if you’re not broke) in my opinion, or influenced me, musically or personally (It’s not only music and stuff).
Why am I being so insistent on the personal & subjective side of this chronicle ?
Well, I’m not here to teach you what’s crucial or not. I mean, there’s, obviously, objectively crucial records, but we won’t mess about it, because it’s the point : you have your own opinion, hardcore is a vast thing nowaday with plenty of bisections and there’ve been a lot of records released to date, so who am I to define things up.
That being said, here’s the first entry of our long journey, the legendary and disputed Don’t Forget The Struggle, Don’t Forget The Streets by Warzone.
First and foremost, I’d like to point out that the eighties, and the nineties as well to be fairly honest, were a wild era for the hardcore scene. I don’t write that down to forgive or advocate what was said/what happened, but I do believe most people playing in bands during the eighties were streets kids, without political education, maybe any school education at all, and with previous examples in punk like Sid Vicious, you know, wearing gammadion cross and shit, to be provocative.
Well, it, again, doesn’t forgive anything, of course, and I stand critical in front of these flaws of that time, but concerning most of these records, I’m pretty convinced, maybe naively, that the hardcore scene took the best, and left the weird things aside. Maybe I’m dreaming or I’m too optimistic, who knows.
If I’m telling you this, it’s because the records, and the band, we’ll talk about went under a lot of bad comments for the patriotism of the artwork and some of the lyrics. I understand the complaints, and sure I don’t defend it, I’m just pointing out these lyrics were wirtten under special circumstances, and they’re not Screwdriver, so I won’t blame this records for what it’s not, but review it for what it is, a masterpiece that pave the way for many past, present and whatever after bands.
Now let’s finally focus on the review of this records.
Recorded in August 1987 at Studio X, Ridgewood, NJ and released in 1987 on Fist Records and 1988 on Caroline Records, it’s 12 songs for approximatively 25 minutes of music. It’s the first LP of the band. Thanks internet.
We won’t extend ourselves on the items itself or the design, for the reasons above-mentioned, but all in all it’s a classic LP package, with really cool photos of the band. Must have been a good time for them. I’m not really aware of any extra version or different design, so if you know anything, get in touch please.
Notice that prayer in the lower right corner of the record.
I have to point out though the liner note : “Hardcore music is a movement — not a business.”
“This jam is gonna bust the house down !”
And everything was said.
Well, they were damn right. From the intro, to the end fo the records, all the riffs are just an abundant source of inspiration, and I still think this album is really inspired too. I won’t list all the bands that are close to the Warzone sound, and even nowaday bands use those riffs and ideas. Even those heavy metal solos doesn’t sound cheap. Raybeez voice is kind of special, but I think it gives a lot of shape to the music itself.
It got fast parts that don’t go wild or messy, it’s still groovy without being too zealous or too long, they did find a good balance. You can listen Oi! riffs to Heavy Metal through classic hardcore jam, and it’s not that boring or a ragbag. The band stated they didn’t care about musicianship or sound, but musically wise, it’s still well done, especially for that time, when they didn’t have a Warzone before. In my opinion, this records is a good standard in terms of sound quality. I’m not aware of the gear they had to record, but it’s not that dirty but not too clear neither.
I would somehow point out some things, because good always need improvement. Once again it’s only my opinion :
The lulzy intro of Growing Up, The Next Step. I mean, it’s cool, but sounds a little bit misplaced to me.
There’s too many solos. Solos are cool, but some songs even have two of them ! duh.
John did a pretty damn good job on bass, but I feel like he could have been more present on the records, his sounds seems really too far behind.
The most important part of this records is the lyrics. It sums up Warzone message pretty well : Unity, social awkward pride, D.I.Y to the bones and well, this patriotic stance, so I’ll pass Fighting For Our Country, again for the forementioned reasons.
Otherwise, all these songs are barelly anthems, and the title song is actually one. I can recognise myself in most of them, except Skinhead Youth (And Fighting For Our Country), it’s simple yet expressive, unifying and positive. The main message of this records is crucial : Hardcore come from the streets and have to stay there and it seems pretty clear.
The voice of Raybeez is also an important element. I think these lyrics wouldn’t have been that powerful without the rage of the guy. It just making me go total nuts when I’m listening to the chorus of Don’t Forget The Struggle, Don’t Forget The Streets.
7 Seconds could’ve also write those lyrics, and Ray Cappo sung them, I wouldn’t have the same impact.
I still have to mention that Growing Up, The Next Step is a bit a mystery though, I’m not sure what Raybeez wanted to say.
In my opinion, it lacks of an anti-racist song, like the one on Open Your Eyes.
Why is that records a Crucial Records ? Because it’s sincere, musically interesting and inspiring and the lyrics deliver an important message : don’t let society crush you down, don’t forget your roots, and don’t let hardcore become a business. It’s naïve, but’s it’s full of unifying songs that can speak to everyone, and it’s still actual. This records has it’s flaws and imperfections, even things that gave it bad reputation, but I’m sure most of the scene remembers or listen to it only to get the best of it. It left blueprints for the next generations of Hardcore bands, and thereafter.
“In our minds and in our hearts, we feel that hardcore music should stay out of big business and stay in the streets, where it belongs. All you kids out there, always, keep the faith!”
N.B : There’s maybe some errors here or there, don’t hesitate to tell me, I’m always happy to learn.
And if any of you got one for sale, I’m ready to buy it. I know it can be really expensive but I want this records really bad.