Various Artists – Dope, Guns ‘N’ Fucking In The Streets – [2CD]

Various Artists – Dope, Guns ‘N’ Fucking In The Streets – [2CD]

Wednesday, 09 March 2016

As most any fan of Eighties and Nineties underground rock can tell you, the creative soil of the time was very fertile but the labels which tended it always carefully ensured that any artist they collected from it always fit within their very specific image. The handpicked stable that Alternative Tentacles kept, for example, was a group of very intelligent maniacs who regularly took a confrontational stace as they attempted to expand their audience’s minds. Conversely, Sub Pop’s crew of underground aesthetes regularly wallowed in a grungy mire which utilized equal amounts of punk and metal as their key building blocks. Further down the line, SST was hardcore while K Records were the weirdos more interested in love than anger, while killrocstars and Dischord were proud purveyors of collegiate-minded, confrontational rock-punk. All of those labels waved their banners high and sang the virtues of them proudly, but the one truly rare bird – the one which was truly “indie” in that it remained stylistically openminded and released innumerable different sounds and ideas proudly – was Amphetamine Reptile Records. When the label first appeared in 1986, many of the foundations for hardcore and indie rock as blanket terms had already been laid – so what AmRep sought to do was enlarge and expand the vocabulary of what was permissible within the music; ex-Marine and label president Tom Hazelmyer found the twitchy weirdos and the angry, intelligent and ignored miscreants hiding in the dark corners of college bars and radio stations as well as the unemployed and gave them all a forum from which to make their presence known. The eleven 7” singles that the label released under the name Dope, Gunes ‘N’ Fucking In The Streets between 1988 and 1998 featured a whopping forty-seven songs and showcased some genuinely awesome progressive/transgressive bands which continue to remain unique (shockingly) in all the years since, but some of which went on to be regarded as counter cultural institutions too. Listening to the music now feels like listening to a fantastic time capsule of ideas which truly do need to be re-examined in the digitally polished and spotless brave new world of 2016.

The rich essence and history of the darker quadrant of the underground that Amphetamine Reptile occupied is instantly recognizable as unlike any other on this comp and, rather than coming off as unsettling or disquieting, it presents as raucous, dangerous and exciting here. The obvious selections – like “The Last Laugh” by Heliod Creed, “Impressionable” by Helmet, “Hard” by Cosmic Psychos and “Tiger Mask” by Rocket From The Crypt – each hold the “not-quite-the-same-as-always” flavor that normally would have marked them to be “compilation fodder” at the time of their making but, somehow, each comes off as an essential stolen moment too; each of these songs really do add a bit of unique, welcome flavor to each band’s bizarre, slimy stew. Some may find that off-putting at first but, before long, they’ll come to welcome the very intentional and single-minded push against the norm which gets upheld in every song on both discs.

After one has run through this enormous comp (again – forty-seven songs is an impressive undertaking – but the quizzical nature of this set makes it easy to be overtaken before long), a listener may find they’re not seeing what they’ve witnessed quite the same way anymore. They may find that this weirdness has touched something in them and awakened a sort of dark, weird spirit which needs more. It wouldn’t be the first time; the singles and albums released by Amphetamine Reptile have been inspiring such transitions for thirty years now. It is for that reason it’s wonderful this set has been reissued; some pop music fans require a bit of personal growth and this music made by these bands is ideal for spurring it – just as it has been for decades.


The Dope, Guns ‘N’ Fucking In The Streets Volume 1 – 11 [2CD] compilation is out now. Buy it here on Amazon.

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