The Time Machine Test: Punk Rock (Part 1)

We all have albums that were crucial to our existence at a particular time in our lives. Sometimes those albums follow us along our life’s arc and remain important for years, decades, sometimes forever. Others fade into history never to be heard again. But in all cases, you have nearly total recall of why and how those albums were important. The wonder of the digital age is that the music never really goes away. You don’t scratch or warp the LP. The cassette doesn’t get dropped in a tiolet at a party. Digital music is always just a click away.

I’ve had the chance to revisit some of the defining albums of my youth and thought it would be fun to put them to what I’ll call the Time Machine Test. It’s simple. Works like this.  Fast forward10, 15, 20 years and listen. I’ve created a simple rating system; Pass/Fail. No fancy nuances. Very straight forward.

The first installment of the Time Machine Test focuses on some of the most important punk rock of my youth.

  • The FreezeLand of the Lost / Rabid Reaction – PASS – I first heard the Freeze on the fabled This Is Boston, Not L.A. compilation; one of the first punk albums I ever heard. They also headlined the first hardcore show I ever saw; an all-ages matinee at T.T. the Bear’s in Cambridge in 1986. Also on the bill were Psycho, the Burnt and some other crappy bands that escape memory. Soon after, I bought both Land of the Lost and Rabid Reaction. Both albums sustained me through the remainder of high school and college and have come in and out of my playlist over the years. Princess Die gave me the strength to survive any number of high school breakups. The lyrics to Misguided Memories made my high school yearbook inscription. “Potential friends are now your enemies” (can’t wait to explain that to the kids when they get older). 

I’m convinced that if these guys had released these 2 albums between 1991 and 1995, they would be as big as Green Day. Hell, they might be Green Day. This is amazing pop-punk that stands the test of time. Fast, loud, hard, but with catchy melody and super-sarcastic lyics. I can’t lisen without turning the volume to 11. These are albums that I want to share with everyone I know. Then again, everyone I know still loves these albums as much as I do.

  • 7 Seconds The Crew / Walk Together, Rock Together – FAIL – Another screamer from high school. These guys were the U2 of hardcore. A band that had something to say and something to prove. The Crew was an album that scared me. Ultra-powerful. I was always afraid that an angry skinhead would jump from my tape deck and kick the crap out of me in the middle of a song. Walk Together, Rock Together was a little lighter and easier to sing along to, but equally powerful and with a more cohesive message. I saw these guys a half dozen times over the years and they put on some of the best shows that I can remember. It’s hard to beat dozens of sweaty punks climbing atop each other at the Rat for a chace to shout the chorus of Walk Together, Rock Together into the mic.

It hurts me more than I can express to FAIL 7 Seconds. I love these guys. I understand how and why they were important to me and helped define my attitude for years to come. The problem is they weren’t that good. I mentioned they were the hardcore equivalent of U2. Well, Kevin Seconds was no Bono (sorry Kev). Whiny, pubescent vocals sung completely out of tempo with the music. But in his defense, he was what, 17, 18-years old when they recorded these albums? If I had that much passion at that age I’m sure my voice would crack just like his. Maybe that’s why I loved them so much back then and still have a soft spot for them. You can’t help but hear the commitment, the conviction. You can’t help but respect the passion. So here’s the deal; I’m sorry that 7 Seconds FAILs the Time Machine Test. I still love ’em. I would still drop everything to see them if they swung through Boston and I promise that I would climb on top of a dozen sweaty punks to sing the choruses.

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~ by spinthis45 on December 18, 2008.

2 Responses to “The Time Machine Test: Punk Rock (Part 1)”

  1. I recently took the “Time Machine Test” with the Freeze (compliments of G. Dow). Somehow, I had lost both of my vinyl LP’s, Rabid Reaction and Land of the Lost, over the years and was left with only a rough recording of their stuff on Boston Not LA. Listening to Rabid Reaction on an evening commute home was akin to a religious experience. The power of this album and Cliff Hanger’s voice blew my mind. Listening to album, I could only picture Cliff with his afro and psycho eyes sneering at a Green Street Station crowd in the late 80’s. Land of the Lost, not so much, as I kept hitting the fast forward button on my ipod. I’ll have to take the test again in 10 years unless the Freeze gets a semi-permanent home on my ipod.

    • Sorry you don’t agree with my Land of the Lost assessment. To me Rabid Reaction and Land of the Lost have always really been 1 album. And even decoupled I think Land of the Lost holds its own. American Town, Nazi Fun, Megawaki Cult, Pig Hunt…. How can you go wrong?

      I’m not responding in an attempt to convince you of the virtues of Lan of the Lost though. Instead I wanted to let you know I’ve changed the rules to the Time Machine Test. It pained me so much to FAIL 7 Seconds that I had to come up with a new model. Check out The Time Machine Test: Rules Change that I posted this morning. Then watch for new entries soon.

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