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Dirtiest...Rottenest collects two of D.R.I.'s most definitive albums in one set. When Metal Blade originally dropped 4 of a Kind in 1988, the Texas combo's bathtub gin concoction of hardcore and metal was still an acquired taste for fans of both genres. There was thrash, too, but D.R.I. never seemed to care enough about technical efficiency or scaring people with gloomy visions to really fit in there, either. 4 of a Kind's "Shut Up" never lets up its impossibly fast groove; however, its lyricism is straight out of the hardcore canon. It and tracks like "Modern World" even include Descendents-style studio tomfoolery, which further separated the guys in D.R.I. from their too-serious peers. Meanwhile, the chugging riffage and New Wave of British Heavy Metal dynamics of "Think for Yourself" and "Man Unkind" turned off the hardcore kids. Just where were the Dirty Rotten Imbeciles supposed to fit in? Of course, the answer is the future. With the benefit of hindsight, it's clear that the fuss over D.R.I.'s sonic synthesis was pretty ridiculous. The band acknowledged this with the album cover of its 1989 release, Thrash Zone -- behind the band's street-sign skanker icon, cartoon approximations of a skin, skater, metalhead, and punker all twist and tumble in the same mosh pit. "Thrashard," the album's leadoff track, spelled it out: "Banging heads and broken jaws, because there are no laws IN THE PIT!" Thrash Zone went on to flesh out mouthpiece Kurt Brecht's pragmatic worldview, and dosed its speed fetish with a heavy (literally) dose of melodicism. "Beneath the Wheel" delivered its simple tale of tardiness and its consequences without melodrama; "Abduction"'s epic battle between metal sludge guitar slinging and a hellacious hardcore bassline hid a surprisingly poignant call for awareness of kidnapped youth. "You Say I'm Scum" was an anthem with rallying cries for both the longhairs and the skate punks; after all, everyone could unite in hatred against Porche-driving cocaine yuppies, right? This Restless reissue (via Rykodisc) presents 4 of a Kind and Thrash Zone on two separate discs, and includes a liner essay from Sean "Pellet" Pelletier.

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