Although the band’s initial Legless Bull ten-song 7” was among my very favorite records of the initial hardcore era, i pretty much lost interest in the band after the blue album with the yellow letters and don’t even remember this 1986 album existing ((although i did like the song “Melancholy Miss,” which appears to have been on an even later album, so i guess i was even more out of the loop than i knew)). I don’t hold records like this—and, when i say “like this,” i mean “mid-’80s albums by early ‘80s hardcore bands where they are trying to figure out their ass from a hole in the ground in regard to performing non-hardcore music” in terribly high regard. I mean, here are these bands that got their start—and excelled at—playing fifty-second hardcore songs. Fast-forward a few years, and everyone’s outgrown hardcore, so now we have to listen to these guys try to create and execute three-and-four-minute songs, an area in which they have neither particular abilities nor gifts. We have to listen to them attempt to figure out HOW TO PLAY ROCK MUSIC, as they fumble along with the process. I dunno about you, but i’d rather listen to a ROCK band play rock music, or a COLLEGE ROCK band play college rock music, than listen to a PUNK band try to FIGURE OUT how to play rock music or college rock music or fuckin’ world beat or whatever the fuck they thought was cool at the time. Consider the irony: Here we have Government Issue, a band who excelled at playing fifty-second hardcore songs, making these ho-hum, can’t-quite-get-to-the-point, college rock-ish FM punk-ish records, and the only reason these guys are known enough to have enough of a platform to throw their ho-hum, can’t-quite-get-to-the-point, college rock-ish FM punk-ish records against a wall or an audience is because, at one point in time, they grew a fanbase based on the fifty-second hardcore songs which they no longer play. I mean, i didn’t hate 7 Seconds because they started playing college rock; i hated 7 Seconds because they SUCKED at it. Leave the complex shit to people who actually have the skill set to pull it off, that’s what i’m sayin’. I mean, take “Hear the Scream” as an example. You have about thirty seconds worth of lyrics, padded out to make a three-minute FM radio-friendly college rock-ish punkish song. You got a sixteen word first verse, then a ten-word chorus ((repeated a few times)), then a fifteen word second verse, then the chorus again, then some guitar stuff, then repeat the sixteen-word first verse and the chorus and start the whole thing over again. How is that a good punk song? How is that a good college rock song? How is that a good ANYTHING? All it is is a stretched out, heavily diluted thirty-second punk song with delusions of grandeur. I was happy as hell when that whole lo-fi/garage thing came along in the early ‘90s and eradicated any lingering confusion over whether “these kinds of records” could be anything other than Rock & Roll Bullshit. That said, the too-brief bits of electric sitar playing herein are uniformly awesome. BEST SONG: “Last Forever” BEST SONG TITLE: “Visions and ?” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Bass player is depicted wearing a DC 101 ((a Washington-area commercial AOR station)) t-shirt on innersleeve.
–norb (Dr. Strange)