Few bands have had such a profound influence on underground music, and a more embarrassing downfall, than Discharge. For a fleeting period in the early 1980s—wherein they eked out one album, a few 12” EPs, and a slew of absolutely vital 7” EPs—they were pioneers of a sound that not only influenced, directly or indirectly, virtually every hardcore punk and speed metal band (check out Metallica and Anthrax’s respective covers of “Free Speech for the Dumb” and “Protest and Survive” if you don’t believe me) that formed in that period, but also provided the template for twenty-seven years-worth of Scandinavian, Japanese, and Brazilian thrash bands, and even a bevy of contemporary would-be claimers to their throne, who peddle their wares under the “D-beat” banner. Of the three releases here, Why and Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing are indispensable—a one-two primal scream against wars and the corrupt states that wage them that starts out with a bone-crunching wallop with “Visions of War” and doesn’t let up until the listener reaches “The End,” the last track on the latter. To sweeten the deal, every track from the aforementioned 12” and 7” EPs have been appended to these two discs, resulting in a nice overview of the band’s most important period. The third disc, Never Again, is a “greatest hits” package of sorts thrown together after guitarist Bones bailed to form Broken Bones with brother (and fellow former Discharge member) Tezz. While all the songs on it are, indeed, some of their best, someone had the bright idea to remix them, and the result was a complete watering down of their sound and all the power the songs originally had is effectively lost. Those interested in the train wreck the band’s career became—by 1986 the metal influence that had been threatening to creep in came crashing down and, coupled with Cal’s sudden interest in trying to sound like Rob Halford, they essentially became a glam band—would find their morbid curiosity more than sated with just one listen to the tracks from their Ignorance and The More I See EPs, included on the disc, which are as good a starting place as any to identify the beginning of their quick slide into suckdom, a condition that remained chronic until the band returned to form twenty years later on 2002’s Discharge album. Long story longer, my recommendation is to pick up the first two discs here then skip straight to the 2002 album and proceed to the third here only if someone gives it to you, you’re some kind of silly collector nut, or you’re a bit of a masochist.
–jimmy (Captain Oi)