Various Artists

State of the Union: D.C. Benefit Compilation

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This is one of several influential compilations produced by Dischord Records documenting the Washington D.C. punk scene. In 1989, the scene was lively and very political, and though few of the bands featured were still together in the year 2000, several members went on to form other important groups. The record comes with a booklet, which is essential, explaining its theme and expanding upon it. The cover shot pretty much sums up what the record is about. There's a group of homeless men freezing in the snow with the U.S. capitol in the background and the words State of the Union above them. In the booklet, there's a decent amount of information about why so many people are poor and homeless in the richest nation in the world. Most of the bands involved are political, though, in general, D.C. punk rock is neither dogmatic nor in your face. Fugazi includes an exclusive cut, "In Defense of Humans," which is one of their earlier tunes and not as arty as their later stuff, while Christ on a Crutch fires up the punkest sounding number on the record, "Off Target." There's a side project from Guy Picciotto of Fugazi called One Last Wish, which sounds like Rites of Spring, and a great acoustic number from Three called "Swann Street." Among the members of bands that went on to later fame represented here is David Grohl's early project Scream and a couple of the guys from Soulside, who went on to form the completely different Girls Against Boys after they moved to New York. This compilation sounds very late '80s. More recent bands from D.C. definitely have a new sound. But this a significant record and essential to the collection of anyone interested in the history of the D.C. punk scene.

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