Absence of Sanity

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AllMusic Review by Brian O'Neill

It's fitting that Chuck Treece would later count his greatest accomplishment not as being a renowned session player who worked with the likes of Billy Joel, but occupying the drum stool for Bad Brains on the venerable band's touring to support Rise; especially when you listen to his first band McRad. Alternative Tentacles fueled a resurgence in the old-school skate rock scene with reissues in 2001 of bands such as Los Olvidados and Free Beer. The material on the 1987 disc fits in sonically and aesthetically with the rudimentary thrashing heard on labels such as Boner Records and touted in Flipside Magazine, even though McRad was an East Coast group (most skate rock culture originated out West). Absence of Sanity also shows a maturity that put the band light years ahead of its peers in the pre-X-Games-and-endorsement-deals world, and this is due to the obvious love and admiration of Bad Brains. Mindless thrashing and inane lyrics of the group's skater brethren are replaced by thoughtful themes and, much like the Brains pioneered, an infusion of reggae ("Words of Life" is a straight-up dub track that fuses into an anthemic riff and inspirational vocals) mixed with the punk rock. It works so perfectly you can't help but conclude that McRad deserved a better fate, and that this release is not sheer nostalgia. Absence of Sanity, even without the additional live songs and two cuts from a 1984 compilation, holds up decades after its initial release, and cliché be damned, sounds just as fresh as it did back in the day.

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