“I don’t feel bad for dead people”
– Adam Wisnieski from this post’s opening line, August 23, 2009.
“I have before me a list of names: Circle Jerks, Flesh Eaters, Minutemen, Germs, Exploited, DOA, Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains, Fear, Replacements, Really Red. Behind each one of these names in an album and behind each of these albums is an anxiety attack. But some anxiety attacks are more equal than others. DOA’s songs are too long, Bad Brains’ tape has bad sound, the Flesh Eaters’ lead singer Chris D. sounds parched and thin. Two groups only have given me two full sides of unalloyed satisfaction: the Circle Jerks from L.A. and the Exploited from Scotland.”
– Lester Bangs from “If Oi Were a Carpenter,” The Village Voice, April 27, 1982.
I don’t feel bad for dead people. I don’t even feel bad for dying people. When you actually think about how you feel when someone’s dying, usually it’s selfish. It’s relief. It ain’t me. Hallelujah! It’s almost happiness. I do, however sturdy I am on these feelings, feel bad that Lester Bangs died almost exactly one year after writing the above quoted article on hardcore April 30, 1983 instead of say, October of 1984. I really don’t give a shit that he died, he did it to himself so my reasons aren’t to say, “oh what a poor soul who died so young,” my reasons instead are this: Double Nickels on the Dime, Zen Arcade, Let It Be and Meat Puppets II.
I would have liked to read Mr. Bangs’ feelings on hardcore when it grew up and burst from the three chord safety pit he calls “the womb.” Bangs concludes his article by saying these bands, for all their anxiety and bad-ass guise, are predictable and safe. He says hardcore is an extension of metal, except “hardcore’s three chords provide its fans with walls that shut them in and any other world out- even when they’re slamming in the pit. Hardcore is the womb.”Had Lester lived one year longer and paid attention to some of the bands he lumped together, he would have heard the Minutemen, Husker Du, the Replacements and Meat Puppets make records to not only break down the walls of hardcore, but to connect with the bigger rock (replacements and husker du), jazz (minutemen) and even country (meat puppets) worlds. Not to mention each of the four records by those four bands from 1984 are some of the best punk albums to ever exist. Many would argue they aren’t even punk, which only supports my argument that the dead Lester Bangs might have liked them. The hardcore scene was the beginning and when some of the bands he lumped together jumped out of the lump, it set things in motion for some great rock music. But, hindsight is, as they say, for the living.
Here’s 4 tracks that broke out of the womb in all different ways:
Also- the Flesh Eaters’ A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die came out in 81, when Lester was alive. I don’t know how he listened to that album and was able to corrall it into a list with Fear and the Dead Kennedys. It’s an absolute masterpiece of 20th Century music and I don’t throw around that word. This should be a later post: A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die: Satan visits Earth and Produces Album.