Once upon a time, there was a Boston hardcore band called American Nightmare, who were sued by another band who had prior claim to the name. For a while, they went by American Nothing, and then A.N., until finally changing their name permanently to Give Up the Ghost in 2003 and then splitting up within a year, which makes the whole name-change travail seem like a lot of wasted effort. Anyway, Year One is a CD compilation of the two 7" EPs from the band's early days, American Nightmare and The Sun Isn't Getting Any Brighter, plus some highlights from their demo, a previously unreleased cover of the MC5's "Kick Out the Jams" and early versions of three songs that later ended up on their first full-length album, Background Music, taken from a BBC session. As with most hardcore bands, Give Up the Ghost's earliest material was their best, making Year One the band's essential document. Songs like the Boston-specific "There's a Black Hole in the Shadow of the Pru" and the sharp political barbs of "Protest Song #00" are as good as this band ever got, and the rest of the material is similarly high-quality old-school hardcore in the classic early-'80s Washington, D.C., style.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason