VARIOUS ARTISTS: Teaching You the Fear…Again: CD

Once the lifeblood of the punk/hardcore scene, compilations have become a bit of a dicey affair over the course of the past twenty years, with the medium crammed with “label samplers” and oodles of sub-par collections of sub-par songs from bands who likely didn’t wanna commit their “good” tunes to something other than their own release. Especially minefieldy are “tribute” albums stuffed to the gills with bands paying homage to their favorite groups by handing in lackluster cover versions of anthems that ostensibly inspired them. So yeah, a tribute album, particularly one featuring some thirty-four bands, to a group as iconic as Really Red, was, um, concerning. Starting off with the always-swell Bellrays was quick to alleviate any misgivings however, as they ushered in a veritable who’s who of bands turning in ace versions of cuts from Really Red’s oeuvre. You get “name” bands and legends in their own right—Dicks, Texas Biscuit Bombs (featuring the Big Boys’ late, great vocalist, Biscuit, out front), Mudhoney, Verbal Abuse, Porn-o-polis (who turn in a spot-on version of “Crowd Control” fronted by Sado-Nation’s Mish Bondage), Hickoids, Hates, Mydolls—as well as newer names following their tributee’s lead into punk’s fringes, thrashing and slamming with the best of ’em, dropping some unexpected twang, bouncing into artier realms, and getting downright weird where required. The resulting collection is refreshingly challenging, reverential, and consistent in making songs more than thirty years old, at this point, still sound fresh and anthemic. –Jimmy Alvarado (CIA, ciarecords2.bandcamp.com)