D.O.A.

Hardcore '81

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This Vancouver foursome was already a band to be reckoned with on their first three singles and debut, Something Better Change, but they went for the jugular on Hardcore '81, producing a rare and astonishing moment for the ages, a direct precursor to the Replacements' first LP torch job later that year. With the greatest drummer in punk history in Chuck Biscuits and an equally smokin' bassist in Randy Rampage, 1978-1982 D.O.A. had an unbelievably intense rhythm section to back the heavy, two-guitar power of Joey Shithead and Dave Gregg. With chops that actually bettered their primary influence, the Clash, and a take-on-all-comers attitude, these guys rocked -- and they knew it. With the exception of the much different, faster, more thrash Bad Brains debut, nothing else in the then-new hardcore genre came close to this wild LP. These 14 songs whip by quick with great thrill and tumult, an unusual, fun mixture of drinking buddy "I Don't Give a Shit" party tunes ("My Old Man's a Bum," "Fucked Up Baby"), wry, sardonic culture commentary ("M.C.T.F.D." aka "Middle Class Television Family Daughter," "Unknown"), and sobering sociopolitical outrage ("D.O.A.," "Smash the State," "Slumlord"). But what you can't forget are the machine-gun Biscuits fills, triggered by the merest hint of any looming chord change yet totally anchored on Rampage's booming bass. Or Gregg and Keithley's hot riffs that are so thick and yet slippery that they threaten to explode. Or Keithley's likable bear-growl vocals, as full of bonhomie good-guy spirit and wicked humor as they are with his sweat and vigor. Or songs so catchy, you want to sing them as loud as your lungs will take you. But like the '60s Who, '70s Clash, and '70s Buzzcocks (other bands of this same rank), they just don't come around often. Good thing they made Hardcore '81 before they left us.

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