Early Punk Discoveries: This is Boston Not L.A.

I can’t recall how or why I started listening to punk music. It actually bothers me that I can’t pinpoint the moment; particularly when I seem to have instant and total recall of nearly all of my important musical revelations.  There are a couple of early contributions that I can remember.  If I were pressed, I think that I would have to list “This is Boston Not L.A.” as my first hardcore album.

This is Boston Not L.A.

This is Boston Not L.A.

This seminal Boston hardcore compilation features the likes of Gang Green, the Freeze, the F.U.’s, Jerry’s Kids and the Proletariat.  I’m not sure what drew me to the album. I can’t recall having heard of it before or for that matter hearing of any of the bands it featured. I remember where I was though; the giant flea market at the old Atlantic plaza in North Reading, MA. My friend Matt and I used to sucker our parents into taking us every few weeks so we could track down old Kiss trading cards and Black Sabbath albums. There was a record dealer that had a space in the back. He’d set up a display on the wall, just like a real record shop, where he always hung some interesting albums. This is where I saw Boston Not L.A. hanging. I think it must have been the black and white photo of the stage divers on the cover that caught my attention. But for whatever reason, I had to have it. I pulled it off the wall, paid the man, and dropped it into a brown paper bag.

The Freeze were to become one of my favorite punk bands of all time and I loved their contributions to this album immediately but I think when I first listened it was the Proletariat and the F.U.’s that grabbed me. The political and religious commentaries were totally foreign to me.  Religion is the Opium of the Masses? Green Beret? Huh? What’s this all about? Remember, I went to the flea market looking Kiss cards and Black Sabbath albums. Not exactly bands that revealed lessons on the socio-political merits of socialism.

I remember also being taken by Gang Green and Jerry’s Kids; thinking “Oh my God. How can these guys play so fast?” This was sloppy punk rock at its best. The musical equivalent of the moment before the car crash. They’re either going to get the thing under control at the last moment and avoid disaster, or they’re going to hit the wall at 90 miles an hour. I’m still not sure if which camp these songs fall into; disaster averted, or bloody car crash. Whatever the case, it was a beautiful mess.

What I do know is that I’d never heard anything like this in my life. That’s a theme that has stayed with me and my musical tastes my entire life; a constant search for something that I’ve never heard the likes of.  I always hear myself saying “That was a moment that changed my life.” It’s true though. Each time I hear something entirely new it changes my perspective on everything I’ve heard before, and on everything I hear after. You can set something aside for years only to rediscover later but you can never truly un-hear something. And when that something sends you on new path of discovery, it truly is a life-changing moment.


~ by spinthis45 on January 10, 2009.

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