Wednesday, 06 December 2006

What's a 7th grade kid to do when a behemoth Nazi skinhead extends him an olive branch in the form of a cassette with a hammy picture of Ronald Reagan on the cover? One, he could decline and risk raising the ire of the biggest kid in school who was rumored to have knocked out a high schooler. Or two, he could take it, smile, and then head straight home to put it in the deck, thereby sidestepping the beating of a lifetime. I went for option two. After hearing track two my musical taste up to that point was rendered irrelevant. The tape was the Alternative Tentacles comp Let Them Eat Jellybeans. Track two was "The Prisoner" by D.O.A.

It was so fast I couldn't understand a damn word of the song except for the chant "I am the Prisoner" which, at the time, seemed to sum up all of my teenage angst. It was rough, angry, powerful, and sounded just as fed up with everything as I was. How could a pissed off teenager do anything else but love it? And now listening to it again years later as a grown man I find myself still loving it, along with almost everything else D.O.A. committed to tape.

This CD covers the first six years of the band's output with tracks taken from their Disco Sucks EP up to their genre-defining Hardcore '81. Listening to these songs so many years later and from a slightly different perspective I now hear things in them that I had never heard before. They're much more musical than I remembered. A heaping dose of garage rock stands out as well as some great use of piano—can anyone name another hardcore band that put the instrument to such good use? This sound was D.O.A. in their prime at a time when they could do no wrong. Every song presented here brims with raw power. And to think without that scary skinhead in 7th grade I may have never heard them.

When I saw the kid the next day in art class I asked him why he didn't want such a great tape. He told me that he hated the Dead Kennedy's song on it, "Nazi Punks Fuck Off," and figured that I, being Mexican, would probably like it. He was right.

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