Musical Archaeology (part 7) – Classic Hardcore with Black Flag, Bad Brains and Minor Threat!!

Steve Duckworth looks like your typical mild-mannered procurement executive - he currently holds a Director role in the Government Procurement Service, part of Cabinet Office. He's been in the public sector for some 5 years, after previous roles in the private sector with organisations such as Axa. But under that pleasant exterior lurks - HARDCORE! Here's Steve.....

Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, following hard on the heels of the British punk movement, a 2nd generation of punk bands appeared across the US. They rejected the nihilism of the original punks and built a more focused, energetic and uncompromising scene that became known as “hardcore”. The hardcore scene was characterised by loud, fast and often very short songs with vocals shouted rather than sung with brevity and pace favoured over melody and complexity.

I love it, and always have. I still listen to this stuff today and think that the DIY aspect (none of these bands were signed to a major label) gave an authenticity that is sadly missing in most bands. To quote Jack Grisham of Hardcore legends TSOL “no one ever got into this to try and make some money”. The scene died off in the mid eighties, but then bubbled back to the surface after the demise of grunge and unfortunately led to some weak corporate rubbish such as Green Day, Blink 182 etc.

I have three choices for you.. Black Flag (the most famous and often viewed as the band that started it all), Bad Brains (the most musically accomplished, and the band that set the standard) and Minor Threat (often thought of as the most definitive exponent of the hardcore scene).  A quick scan for these on you tube will give you an insight into the most exciting scene in musical history.

(Here's a bit of Bad Brains for you)

BAD BRAINS "Give Thanks And Praises"

Bad Brains | Myspace Video


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  1. Duncan Dallas:

    Procurement and punk rock – and here was me thinking that I was the only person in the UK juggling both! I realise this entry is a few months old but thought it sad that nobody had commented.

    The hardcore scene of the US is the punk that I’m interested in. When I say ‘I’m into punk’ the uninitiated will think Sex Pistols, mohawk hairstyles, safety pins, spitting and general obnoxiousness. The comment I’ll often get is “you don’t look like a punk” (well, in a business suit who does?). ‘What is punk?’ must be in the top ten discussions across music forums worldwide and never reaches a satisfactory conclusion. To me, it is epitomised by the HC scene led by Black Flag, Minor Threat and their contemporaries. It was about shunning the commercial aspect and making it about the music and the message only. Written and performed by and for a subculture who enjoyed ownership of their own art. The message to me can be summed up as follows: question everything you’re told and stand up for what you think it right.

    Musically I am a bigger fan of the bands who came a bit later as part of this scene – Fugazi (led by Minor Threat and Dischord Record’s Ian Mackaye), Agnostic Front, Sick of it All, Bad Religion, Rancid. Bad Religion regularly wrestle with Bruce Springsteen for the title of ‘my favourite arstist’. A strange combination one might think but I read recently that The Boss is a fan of BR and that the guitarist from BR recently tried to write a Springsteen style song (which ended up sounding like a Bad Religion song of course). Furthermore Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (another of my non-punk favourites) played on two recent BR tracks. It all seems to tie in somehow.

    A post like this wouldn’t be complete without a plug so if you fancy checking out some ABDN HC (erm, that’s a jokey term – Aberdeen Hardcore…) then here is my band Escape to Victory
    Playing in some dingy pub near you in May! (if you live in Scotland/North England).

    You’ll be glad to know there is still a DIY punk scene across the Western World and a network of punks who are happy to put on gigs together and offer free accommodation for travelling bands.

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