Tracks 1–8 produced by Underdog and recorded and mixed by Dan Nicholas at Electric Reels Studios, Pleasant Valley, NY in December 1985.
Tracks 9–15 produced by Underdog and Don Fury and recorded and mixed by Don Fury at Don Fury Studio, NY in Fall, 1988.
Tracks 16–26 produced by Underdog and Don Fury; recorded by Dan Nicholas and John Moorehead at Electric Reels Studios, Pleasant Valley, NY; mixed by Don Fury and Underdog at Sunset Productions, NY in Winter 1988.
Released on Bridge Nine, 2010.
Having been born at the end of 1971, the first wave of punk rock almost passed me by. I was mildly aware of various bands like Sex Pistols, Bad Brains, Buzzcocks, The Boomtown Rats, Dead Kennedys, but I didn’t go out of my way to listen to them. Punk just became part of the background noise of my growing up: the occasional track on British TV, badges bundled with Bubble Pops gum, logos painted on the back of local punks’ jackets.
The first rock music I remember getting into was on a double LP owned by my dad that featured Genesis (“The Knife”), and Jethro Tull (“Locomotive Breath” perhaps?). It was partly this kind of progressive music that punk was reacting against. Then I got into Queen, big time. Which led to Metallica, Celtic Frost, Slayer and the whole mid-80s thrash movement.
It wasn’t really until Slayer’s 1996 album of cover tunes Undisputed Attitude that encouraged me to explore the whole punk and hardcore scene a little deeper. I listened to a few British bands (Peter and the Test Tube Babies, The Clash, Sex Pistols), as well as a few bands from across the Atlantic (The Misfits, Ramones) mainly because of their links with Danzig and Anthrax, respectively. I even touched on a few hardcore bands when their paths crossed closely with mainstream metal at the time (Sick of it All, Biohazard, early Beastie Boys, M.O.D.). But my exploration didn’t go much further.
It’s been interesting this week listening to this album of mid- to late-80s hardcore punk, a coming together of 26 tracks from 1985 and 1988.
The first eight songs have a very raw feel, that reminded me of Bleach-era Nirvana as well as the various tracks on Slayer’s punk tribute album. The album opens with a very punk signature sound: a bass riff and squealing atonic guitar. Track two “Special forces” must be one of Underdog’s most famous songs, because I’ve heard it before!
The final 18 songs are from three years later, 1988. It sounds a bit more polished with the guitar tone in particular sounding a bit heavier and a bit bassier. This part of the album sounds more hardcore than punk, to my ear.
I’ve not found this a particularly easy album to listen to, to be honest. As I said, punk and hardcore are not sounds that I’m easily drawn to. I loved Suicidal Tendencies, but more when they strayed towards metal.
That said, I can appreciate this music even though it’s not particularly my genre. There’s an energy and integrity to it which I love.
If you are a fan of New York hardcore and haven’t listened to Underdog then certainly check this album out. Hey! If you want the CD drop me a comment and I’ll send it to you.
Review score: 70%