JFA: To All Our Friends: CD

Sep 23, 2009

I remember seeing this band at Fenders in Long Beach circa 1986. Their drummer Bam Bam was zonked on acid that night, which resulted in a super-looooong, tripped out version of “The Day Walt Disney Died,” but he more than held up his own during warp factor nine versions of all their hits. A badass show that fits easily into one of the top two best shows I ever saw ‘em do (the other being a show they did with Bad Religion and L7 at a Mexican restaurant in Hollywood a couple of years later, where every band was at their peak and the place was on the verge of total mayhem for most of the night, a vibe that finally ended with someone stabbing someone else on the dance floor right in front of Yogi and me while we were tripping on acid. There was also the show they did with Die Kreuzen and Mighty Sphincter, but this little fan-geek is digressing). My clutch of friends fuggin’ worshipped this band not because we were skate rats (although a few were), but because they were masters of a unique brand of hardcore that was fast, furious, and chock full of disparate influences ranging from psychedelia to surf to funk. There was no way you could confuse JFA with any other band, a trait that is always a marker that the band you’re listening to is goddamned good at what they do. This live disc demonstrates that they remain masters of their domain. The tempos are slower than their ‘80s peak, but unlike other bands, what this translates into is that they play at around the speed of the original studio versions of the songs here, which, in turn, were pretty thrashin’ in their own right. The tracks here are culled from the crème de la crème of the band’s catalog—“Preppy,” “Beach Blanket Bongout,” “We Know You Suck,” “Charlie Brown”—as well as a couple from their last studio effort. Sound is faboo, delivery is properly spirited and Brian is in fine, um, howl. Gripes? Inclusion of the aforementioned “Walt Disney” and at least one of their legendary surf covers would’ve been nice, and though it has fourteen tracks, the disc is too goddamned short, which says a lot. Other than that, this is about as good as live hardcore albums, and bands, get.

 –jimmy (DC-Jam)