Sunday, January 31, 2010
Here's a reissue - and purchase - which came totally out of the blue. I used to own West Virginia's Th' Inbred's debut LP, A Family Affair, back in the day. Bought it in '88 and played the life out of it. Sold the thing a decade later when I realised I didn't want any second-string hardcore records cluttering up my house. Bought the reissue just recently when I subsequently discovered that nostalgia-trip second-string hardcore albums aren't such a bad thing. Alternative Tentacles has done a great public service in reissuing the complete discography of this sorely overlooked band as, in hindsight, Th' Inbred were streets ahead of just about anything else happening in hardcore punk in the latter half of the '80s, and whilst such a remark adds up to zip in aesthetic terms (sorry folks, but for me the entire genre pretty much totally ate granola after '86, and has forever since), all context aside, there's some killer tuneage happening here regardless of time, place and genre.
Th' Inbred released two LPs in their lifetime, 1986's A Family Affair and 1988 Kissin' Cousins, a couple of comp' tracks and an EP, then slipped away to oblivion, only to see their efforts run out of print and be largely forgotten by the punker population at large, myself included. What set them apart from a zillion thrash outfits crying for the head of Reagan was their musical chops. These guys could play, and with chops to spare had the smarts to throw in some influences beyond the obvious. Heavily inspired by jazz-damaged Black Flag, especially in their long, drawn-out instrumental passages, some of which sound like early Slint outtakes; the art/noise rad politico angle of Crass; old-time freaksters such as the Fugs, Beefheart and Sun Ra; furious progsters like mid '70s King Crimson as well as the riff-o-rama of Led Zep, Th' Inbred were more than just Fuck You by numbers.
Well, in the lyrical dept. you may laugh at the quaintness of the constant rallying cries against society, religion, work, the middle class and the inherent hypocricies and narrow-mindedness of the hardcore scene (like, duh!), but back when I was a zit-faced teen, maaan, those words spoke to me. They're still speaking to me, coz I keep listening to the damn CD every day. Hmmm... maybe I could make an instrumental dub of this. There's also some heavy Jello damage here in the vocal/lyrical dept., too, as well as a seriously ill-advised stab at funk/rap, so you have been warned if that's the kinda thing which gives you the shivers.
Still, there's 36 tracks here and very little of it blows; some of it is pretty brilliant. If I'd heard this for the very first time right now at this point in my life I doubt I'd be this excited, but the rosy tint of nostalgia washed over me like a sponge bath on my first listen to their Family Affair LP in almost 20 years, and if that's what it takes to put a skip in my step in this day and age, then I'll take what I can get. Less pathetic individuals will simply, on their very first listen, grab their ears around this well-packaged set and dig it for what it is: fun and furious prog/jazz-infused punk rock from the US of A, ca. late '80s, which still packs a punch.
Click here for an interesting posthumous interview with the band from 1990.