Monday, June 05, 2017

RECORD OF THE DAY: POISON IDEA - WAR ALL THE TIME



Prior to listening to this last month, I hadn't heard it in easily over 20 years. It was originally released in 1987, my brother bought it in early 1988, and it was a firm fave in the Lang household during the late '80s. For a few years there - well, for a number of years - Portland's Poison Idea were seen as thee band who were still holding the candle/flying the flame for HARDCORE, a genre of music which for many had fizzled out into a puddle of gooey uselessness by mid-decade, and their 1990 LP, Feel The Darkness, was widely hailed as a landmark punker release of its day (which I guess it was, and I was certainly in thrall to it at the time, too - another curious fact, since I considered myself pretty much totally over hardcore at that stage, but we'll talk about that later. Allow me to please exit this parentheses....)

But anyway, getting back to it: I hadn't heard this LP since probably prior to Bill Clinton getting blown in the Oval Office, and then it gets reissued on wax, I order a few copies for the shop (along with copies of Kings Of Punk, their debut LP from '86), and I figure I should give it a spin. After all, I loved the shit out of it as a 16-year-old, most of the music I liked as a 16-year-old seems to've held up well (true!), so what could possibly go wrong? To be honest, I was mighty cautious, and even a little afraid, of listening to this again. What if it sounds totally overblown and corny now? What if it just sounds like some sort of lame punk/metal crossover malarky, the kind of stuff I didn't like at the time, anyway? Anyway, I shat, got off the pot and spun the disk. I needn't have worried for a goddamn second. War All The Time hit me like a freakin' rock to the head - a good rock, if that's possible.

I must've listened to the thing a thousand times back in the day, coz I remembered every second of it, every riff, every cowbell hit, every bark from Jerry A's throat. They were indeed something special. Poison Idea had been kicking around since 1982, which I guess makes them a second-generation HC band, as the whole 'movement' was well into full swing by then. 1987 might seem kinda late for a sophomore LP from an '82 HC act, though they had a swag of 7"s and EPs under their belt - the perfect HC formats. Heavily influenced by the Germs, Black Flag and early Discharge, the two-pronged fat-fuck attack of vocalist Jerry A with deceased guitarist Pig Champion was something to behold. Throw in a kick-arse drummer such as Slayer Hippy and it's unstoppable. They were degenerate mofos who were dead-set on drinking and drugging themselves to death (Pig Champion succeeded), were openly scornful of punk-rock poster-boy Ian MacKaye and his wowserisms, and back in 1990 when shit-rock of the Dwarves/Antiseen variety was all the rage in the punk underground, as the likes of Fugazi (who I loved) and Bad Religion (who I didn't) were beginning their ascent into the sales/public consciousness stratosphere, Poison Idea seemed like a mighty good throwback to the HC halcyon days of '81/'82 when the bands meant serious business when it came to being arse-kicking shitheads who made a racket to beat your head against the wall to.

And you can certainly do that with War All The Time. It's got a bit of a Motorhead (they cover 'Motorhead' here, natch) vibe throughout and maybe even an ounce of early Slayer pummel, but mostly this sounds like Why?-period Discharge with better production. The opening trinity of 'The Temple', 'Romantic Self Destruction' (the best track here) and 'Push The Button' will make you a believer. Like I said, the band made the big time with 1990's Feel The Darkness, released a bunch more material in the '90s and I lost track somewhere along the way. Jerry A still carries the band name today, though I'm pretty sure he's the only original member left. He actually toured here as Poison Idea last year, and I was very reluctant to attend what I presumed would be a bit of a trainwreck (or at least a shadow of its former glory), though friends with brain cells who attended informed me it was much better than expected. I will carry on. For a few years Poison Idea were the biz - they hold up. Do it.

1 comment:

Threshold Intermediate said...

Good Poison Idea, like most, though I still maintain it is the weakest of their 80s records. Everybody says "Feel the Darkness" is their masterpiece, and rightfully so.
Five or so years ago I published this list about Poison Idea's top 25 songs (man, there are VERY FEW HC bands to even have 25 good songs, let alone 25 great ones!) and, incidentally, "Romantic Self Destruction" (which rips) was the only song from War all the Time to make it to that dumb list! Ha!

https://rateyourmusic.com/list/javiblanco/top_25_poison_idea_songs/