REALLY RED: The Complete Collection 1979-1985: 2 x CD

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating yet again: I dunno what the fuck they were putting in the barbecue sauce in Texas at the dawn of the 1980s, but some seriously amazing stuff came outta that state’s punk scene roughly from the tail end of the ‘70s through the ‘80s—Big Boys, Dicks, D.R.I., Offenders, Kamikaze Refrigerators, Dot Vaeth Group, Cargo Cult, The Hates, M.D.C., Culturcide, Scratch Acid, Butthole Surfers, The Nervebreakers… suffice to say that only scratches at a list that is long and wildly varied. Also sitting in that pantheon is Houston’s Really Red, a name that one doesn’t come across quite as often these days as maybe some of the others named might, but one no less important or jaw-dropping awesome were they, and at the time they were rightly well regarded in the greater scene back then. What they brought to the table—and is in full evidence throughout this collection of their recorded output—was a sound that kept a toe on the punk/hardcore template while lurching in every which direction: thrashing with the best of ‘em on second, meting out some choice punk tunes the next, adding some psychedelic art-damaged hardcore the next, and going off on an almost industrial excursion the next, lurching rhythms, howling vocals, and pummeled guitars in tow. Collected here is pretty much everything one could hope for: the crucial Teaching You the Fear LP, the über-rare Rest in Pain LP, all their singles/EP tracks, comp tracks, and some unreleased gems, plus a booklet with lyrics and a version of an interview with vocalist U-Ron that I remember being included in David Ensminger’s indispensable tome, Left of the Dial: Conversations with Punk Icons. In addition to being two discs-worth of challenging and wildly creative music, the collection is yet another testament to just how wildly creative some bands remained even within the rapidly tightening “rules” hardcore’s adherents insisted on shackling themselves with as time went on. Boiled down to three words: THIS IS ESSENTIAL. 

 –jimmy (Alternative Tentacles)