Like the best works of art and literature, from Milton to Dante to Bosch to Grunewald, the records of some bands just deserve to be perpetually available so future generations can readily get their hands on them and glean some influence when the need arises. Case in point this disc here, which contains some of the most influential and exemplary music ever produced by a hardcore punk band. Collected for your listening pleasure are the tracks from the Blatant Localism EP, the Valley of the Yakes 12”, damn near every track that appeared on a compilation (conspicuously absent are the versions of “Guess What” and “Middle America” from the Sudden Death and We Got Power comps, respectively), and an unreleased gem here and there. What makes them so damn special, you ask? Well, let’s not touch upon the fact that they almost single-handedly dragged the whole skatepunk out of the dark corners of the scene and into the limelight. Let’s put aside that they managed to come up with a sound wholly original and singular in a subgenre that was, at the time, up to its eyeballs in stagnant, hypocritical dogma and monkey-see-monkey-doism, by melding high-speed hardcore (then referred to as “thrash,” which, like “hardcore,” apparently means crappy speed metal these days) and unintelligible lyrics with surf-rock, infusing the whole thing with a sense of humor and fuck-it-all attitude and making it sound like not only the most normal combination on earth, but that any asshole could pick up a guitar and do the same. Let’s ignore the fact that the bulk of their first four releases quite possibly served as the soundtrack for damn near every grind, ollie, boneless, acid drop, front-side air and face plant attempted in a backyard pool or half-pipe in 1980s America. What makes them so special? Simple. They fucking rocked and, twenty years down the line, even the most dated track on here STILL fucking rocks. Sure, we can gripe about the fact that the Mad Gardens EP and their self-titled LP aren’t on here, the latter of which included arguably their shining moment, “The Day Walt Disney Died,” but that would be like your mom making a great meal with all your favorite foods and you whining ’cause she forgot the mashed potatoes and the corn. If Alternative Tentacles has any kind of heart, they’ll rectify the situation by following this up with a disc compiling those releases in short order (and while we’re at it, what are the odds of a retrospective CD of Tucson’s Conflict? Just thought I’d ask), so shut up and enjoy what’s already on your plate. Let us all rejoice, for a huge chunk of JFA’s best, most important material is back in circulation and readily available, and, like the reissue of Oscar Zeta Acosta’s book, Revolt of the Cockroach People, let’s just hope it stays that way.
–jimmy (Alternative Tentacles)