Agony Shorthand

Thursday, August 21, 2003

A theme seems to be brewing here at the Shorthand around poorly-recorded, legendary records that have been or should be cleaned up. To be honest, 9 times out of 10 I would not be in favor of it – I can only think of two clear huge winners from the past where this was done: the aforementioned “Raw Power”, and almost as good, the HEARTBREAKERS' “L.A.M.F. Revisited” . To this let us add a third – and when one considers how little raw material they (in this case Jack Endino) had to work with, one has to doff a cap. Early Seattle hardcore punk band SOLGER lasted all of six months during 1980, and during that time played a small handful of local shows (one opening for BLACK FLAG) and recorded a bizarrely satisfying 5-song 7”EP that remained mostly lost to time save for a limited reissue in the late 90s. To be especially lame and quote myself on this record (from 1998’s Superdope #8):

“What is special about the Solger single still remains somewhat elusive – on first listen, it’s poorly-recorded, generic hardcore, and it’s subject matter (detailed in an enclosed lyric fold-out) is moronic early 80’s teenage nihilism (war, hate, fascist Amerika, ect). Yet many consider the record to be a true classic, and I have to say, I love listening to it. Low fidelity often brings out the warmth and an artist’s true expression in a way that conventional recording can’t – Solger took this maxim several steps further and buried their mics underneath Puget Sound while recording, spilled a case of Schmidt on the masters, pasted swabs of cotton to the final tapes and pressed up 500 copies. The songs charge forward and then spin out of control in a manner quite foreign to hardcore structure, making this the most “arty” generic hardcore record of its day…”

This new CD on Empty Records brings all 5 tracks back in jumbled order to start the disc in a “remastered” form – and it comes off as just fucking rabid, frothing, first-wave American Hardcore like few have ever played it. It attacks and wails like the GERMS or – and I’d never made the comparison until hearing this CD – early Michigan hardcore heroes THE FIX, who were operating in roughly the same timeframe. Endino did a superb job of bringing these muddy tracks to life again, and all the great things I had to say in the paragraph before this one are cubed. What’s more, the CD includes the original unremastered recordings of “the magic five”, as well as a brief chunk from a live set with howling vocals, careening guitar and a general take-no-prisoners approach. Pantywaists these boys were not. GERMS and DAMNED covers, too – and liner notes by Mudhoney’s Steve Turner and Mark Arm. I gotta think that this is a reissue that will make the overall appeal of your CD collection that much better.