VARIOUS ARTISTS: Lest We Forget: 35 Great Old Berkeley Bands/Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk: 2 x CS

Aug 01, 2019

In 1991, Aaron Cometbus made a tape comp of songs from local punk demos that he’d collected in Berkeley between 1981 and 1988. “The idea was to take some of the spotlight focused on Gilman Street and redirect it on the groups from just a few years earlier who were being foolishly, almost criminally overlooked,” Cometbus says in the new liner notes to the rerelease of this comp. The delightfully fuzzed-out and screechy songs that fill Lest We Forget come from bands that you’ve probably only heard of if you’ve been reading Cometbus for decades (Intensified Bluebeard, anyone?), and handily prove that Berkeley was a hotbed of quality melodic punk long before Green Day and Lookout! Records blew up. Speaking of Green Day, they executive produced the documentary Turn It Around, about Berkeley’s Gilman Street scene where they got their start in the late ’80s. The Turn It Around comp features rare tracks from that iconic scene’s best-known names: Operation Ivy, Jawbreaker, Mr. T Experience, Spitboy, Neurosis, Filth, Blatz, and more. If the Turn It Around tape is the kid at school with a Green Day shirt, Lest We Forget is the kid who walks up to them in the cafeteria who says, “If you like Green Day, you’ll love my friend’s band. Wanna come see them this weekend?” These two tapes make for an impressive (and daunting) collection of music, and a thorough document of a beloved music scene that plays the hits and shares a few surprises, too. –Chris Terry (