The Left

Last Train to Hagerstown

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Although the Left had actually disbanded by the time they recorded their second release in 1985 (having already issued an EP in 1984), they nonetheless went into the studio to cut the material on Last Train to Hagerstown. Most of the songs were ones that had been left off the 1984 EP It's the World, and unsurprisingly Last Train to Hagerstown offers a similar brand of mid-'80s punk: a little more melodic (though not much) than the era's hardcore, and a little more indebted (though not much) to hard rock, metal, and garage rock than the day's hardcore. There's still much hardcore punk to its feel, however, including insistent rhythms, irreverently snotty lyrics/vocals, rubbery foreboding basslines, and knotty, fuzzy guitars. When a cover of the Stooges' "T.V. Eye" is the most tuneful thing here, you know there's not much pop involved in the equation. Like It's the World, there's an almost-over-before-it-starts mood to the album, the seven songs lasting a little under twenty minutes. For that reason, if the Left's a band you want to hear, you'd be best off getting the 2006 CD compilation Jesus Loves the Left: The Complete Studio Recordings, which includes everything from both Last Train to Hagerstown and It's the World, as well as five other tracks.