Previously only released on compact disc in Sweden (back in 1996), Refused’s Rather Be Dead E.P. received its first US release via Epitaph Records on nifty crystal clear vinyl (photo featured here… obviously). As a companion to the band’s sophomore offering, Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent, this E.P. (or is it EP?) offers a wider range of hardcore not featured on the studio LP (save for the title track), and is a must for any Refused junkie (like myself).
Though not until October, it’s notable to mention that Refused’s undisputed masterpiece, The Shape of Punk to Come, turns 20 this year. Sit on that one for a beat. While you’re at it, check out Decibel’s coverage of the album in their September, 2010 issue (No. 071). If this doesn’t make you feel old, you’re probably already in the ground.
It’s always a good day when a new Refused record is released. Servants of Death was, in fact, the first record I grabbed last Friday (RSD Black Friday). The only record from that day’s haul that came with a download card (thank you Epitaph), this six track EP contains the “single” Servants of Death from last year’s Freedom release, as well as a new, never before released-on-vinyl track Stolen Voices, as well as four live tracks from the band’s 2015 tour. Overall a fantastic little accompaniment to an already stellar discography.
As clear as an unmuddied lake, this 2016 reissue (from The Netherlands region) recently popped up in the US Epitaph online store, and was swiftly nabbed by staff here at The Prudent Groove. We now own Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent a total of five times, and the way Epitaph is kicking out short runs of color variants, that number is likely to increase very soon. Although not as prolific as their opus, 1998’s The Shape of Punk to Come, this 1996 precursor couples perfectly to create the uncompromising, one-two, hardcore punk-punch. Epitaph still has copies at the posting of this blurb, so jump on in.
This 2015 Hot Topic exclusive has gotten me a little more excited than I probably should be. For one, The Shape of Punk to Come is by far one of the best albums ever to invade my ears. It’s heavy, melodic, technically insane (the percussion), and it killed the band (2015’s forthcoming Freedom aside). I owned the original since its 1998 release, and have since acquired a double blue, double red, double clear, and now single disc translucent purple version. What I think gets me riled up more than (almost) any of my other versions (clear vinyl will always be the treasured version of any version of any album) is that at first glance, this puppy looks like a straight black record. For a split second upon emerging this gem, I thought it was a mistake and panicked, but after closer inspection, the darkness, as it turns out, is eclipsed by a deep, moody, purple cloud. I love records that look like nothing but are secretly hiding their inner beauty, which, if you think about it, mirrors the album perfectly. Yeah, a little over excited for this one.
Let’s do this. For day #843, in my exhausted and lethargic state, and also because I’ve just about had it with humanity, here is a list of “in the mail” records that have yet to hit our doorstep; Some for obvious reasons (they haven’t been released yet), and others because they’re apparently being couriered by the Pony Express. Happy Saturday, kids:
Refused – Freedom (2x color versions)
Goldfinger – Goldfinger
Pygmy Lush – Bitter River (brown vinyl)
Where the Buffalo Roam (The Original Movie Soundtrack)
Tomahawk – Oddfellows
Damaged Bug – Cold Hot Plumbs
Faith No More – Sol Invictus (clear vinyl, I think)
No, you’re not still dreaming, and yes, as it seems, Refused are not fucking dead. Pitchfork has the brand new track, Elektra, streaming right now, and you can pre-order Refused’s first album in 18 years directly from the Epitaph store. With an expected release date of 6.30.15, it’s without question that this summer is going to be imperative.
I speak of this only because I happen to notice it today, a day in which busywork afforded me the opportunity to listen to stereo recordings with a single ear bud (not ideal, but embraceable), while performing my spreadsheet-happy daily chores in a swift and efficient fashion.
Here, for those who’ve never asked, is a sprint through the progression of a normal, 9-5 (10-7) day (in regards to my organic music consumption).
9:31am: Feeling a bit homesick and decide to mentally frolic through the painted walls of my feverish memory as a youngen at my Grandparent’s farmhouse and cue up 50 Number One Country Hits.
9:56am: Arrive at work and continue the 50-track playlist and wonder, countless times, why I haven’t ordered 1975’s Red Headed Stranger by the great Willie Nelson on vinyl ($5.85 off Discogs.com… I mean, k’mon!).
2:11pm: Finish the epic 50-track memory-machine-gun and dry the reality from my eyes.
2:12pm: Cue up The Pharcyde’s Bizarre Ride II and remember that this album was once, and for a very long time, my favorite album.
5:36pm: Finish BRII and feverishly, and without music, complete my daily objectives.
7:56pm: With a quasi-clear head, and the freedom of the evening, I drive home and enjoy the lamenting screams from Refused’s The Shape of Punk to Come and think to myself, in an empty car, I should have been a musician.
For what it’s worth, I’m going to make it a point, today, at least, to finish these waking hours exactly where I started… with Jack Greene’s There Goes My Everything. Happy trails, and pleasant evening, kids.
When magazines camouflage their faces with legendary album covers, the hordes stop for a second look. Decibel Magazine, back in September of 2010, painted their printed face with a very familiar album with its 8 pages of chimerical bombination. Hats off to you, Decibel, and your creative gesture to (arguably) the greatest hardcore album ever released, 1998’s The Shape of Punk to Come, by Sweden’s Refused. It displays well, don’t you think? It’s been sitting, lovingly, atop my end table for the past 4+ years. Well done, Decibel Magazine… well done indeed.
Bridging the gap between the end of Refused and well, the return of Refused, lead singer Dennis Lyxzén of both the (International) Noise Conspiracy (featured here) and well (again), Refused, busied himself pushing melodic, left-wing, anti-capitalist rants over a bed of garage-rock, and this, Survival Sickness, (really, ANOTHER comma… yup), was their best installment.
Released in 2000, The (I)NC rivaled then hip-cats, The Hives, in the dingy streets of quality indy rock. Take what little money is in my wallet, and place it squarely on the (International) Noise Conspiracy winning over the half-witted (yet commercially prevalent) Hives. Do it. Now… and listen to the rhythms of truest propaganda.
Songs that fan anything, are worth a healthy listen. Song fanning the flames of discontent… well, that’s a horse of a different color. White, in this case, and a European RSD (Record Store Day) exclusive, Refused’s 3rd full-length offering, Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent saw both a red vinyl 2010 reissue, as well as a 2012 white vinyl reissue after the initial bomb-dropping 1996 release.
A nod’s as good as a wink to a blind bat… so with haste I offer this heartfelt gesture to the Swedish Refused. Never far from the mind, this unforgettable band creeps up in the unlikeliest of places (like a good hour after the day’s posted deadline, for example). Thank you for your forgiveness. #sniff
18 tracks weren’t enough for the illustrious London Calling, the third studio album by the legendary misfits of genre-bending punks, The Clash. Unofficially hidden, or rather lopped on after the appropriate concluder Revolution Rock, the third and final single stemming forth from this prodigious album, Train in Vain (not unlike a retaliatory missile, or the first bullet fired during a revolutionary riot), was originally written and recorded as a giveaway track for the publication NME (or New Musical Express… I just found out), and was to be released as a flexi-disc single through the magazine… something that, for whatever reason, never came to be.
Certainly not news to the astute a-Clash-ionado, this little nugget of info explains why London Calling ends perfectly (with Revolution Rock), then spits out an unscheduled, and unwanted encore with Train in Vain. This is certainly not to say TiV is a song of lesser listening value, rather its inclusion on London Calling, or its position therein rustles the feathers of album perfection. Since London Calling is the closest thing to a perfect album as is (save maybe for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, This is Tim Hardin, The Shape of Punk to Come, Paul’s Boutique, Circa: Now!, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, or Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde) it really doesn’t matter.
Do you know what I hate? Whiskey. Yeah. I hate whiskey. It’s not the lovingly-bitter pinch it leaves on your exasperated tongue, it’s not the superhuman strength it willingly, and fervently gives you, it’s not the subtle suggestions it, well, suggests, that leave you STRONGLY considering running for a seat on the United States House of Representatives… instead, it’s the overwhelming velocity in its seemingly subtle proposals that provoke me to nudge the dials on my home stereo from, oh, I don’t know, say a neighborhood pleasing, tolerable volume, to a RAGING, cacophony of disruptive and uncongenial banter of my emotional choosing (namely, Guns N’ Roses, Refused, Guns N’ Roses, and ok, well mainly Guns N’ Roses).
There are specified channels of unquestionable vitality that never consider stepping down from atop their immortal foundation, and 1987 G N’ R is absurdly no exception.
Editor’s note: I extend my intense apology for the choice of photos for the following X posts. You see, I’ll be out of the office for the next X days and, well, I’ve forgotten to take pictures of the proper albums prior to my last minute post writing (you know, with the proper daylight and all). Something tells me, however, not a soul will notice, or venture to care, and therefore this Editor’s note will have served as a monumental waste of both your, and my time. Carry on.
If you were stranded on a remote island (that conveniently harbored electricity, speakers and a bomb-ass turntable), and you were only allowed to pick three albums with which to spin for your remaining, ocean-gazing days, what three albums would they be?
For me, the first two albums were no-brainers. Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys, and The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society by The Kinks. Choosing the proper versions, both albums are double LPs (1998’s Grand Royal reissue and 2011’s mono/stereo split), so you’re already a leg up on the island dwelling competition. The third and final album requires much more, overanalyzed thought. Do you play it safe and pick Abbey Road? What about The Beatles, also known as the White Album? Or, do you skip the 12” format altogether and grab your favorite song, which just happens to be a post-hardcore thrasher by the obscure Wisconsin band, Defacto Oppression? Certainly NOT an easy decision to make (in this overly voluptuous hypothetical), second-guessing is sure to follow after the inevitably dreadful decision is (finally) made.
Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska garnishes some thought, but would probably be far too depressing… after all, these three albums will help feed, or deter the fact that you are, after all, stranded on a remote island. Emergency & I by the Dismemberment Plan is a considerably strong candidate, but would immediately be my number four pick. Bizarre Ride II (The Pharcyde), In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up (Live) (Ministry), This is Tim Hardin (Tim Hardin… duh), and Circa: Now! (Rocket from the Crypt) are all, exceptional lily pads on this thought pond, but none of them make the distinct cut.
London Calling (The Clash), Double Nickels on the Dime (Minutemen), Singles – 45’s and Under (Squeeze), Energy (Operation Ivy), Appetite for Destruction (Guns N’ Roses), which would easily be my number five pick, Black Monk Time (The Monks), and Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (Dead Kennedys) all lay floating in the salted sea of “never to enjoy again.” Damn, this post is depressing.
And the winner goes to… The Shape of Punk to Come… the quintessential soundtrack to my evasive youth wins the number three spot, and with little hesitation, I might add. Refused’s best, and another double LP, this top three has quickly turned into the top six, and would respectfully demonstrate, and/or adequately demolish my headspace for the rest of my delusional life. To pick three out of 2,800 is certainly NOT an easy gesture… if asked again tomorrow, I’d have a completely different roster. Oh, the joy, and immediate pleasure of viable options.
It had been two, LONG years since I’d last seen Rocket from the Crypt in concert. I had been living in Milwaukee for little over a year at this point, and in that time, when San Diego’s finest came within driving distance (essentially any venue in any state bordering Wisconsin), you dropped whatever you were doing and you got your ass to the show.
This was the third time I’d seen Rocket from the Crypt, and before even fueling up the car to head some 90+ miles into Illinois territory, I had already made up my mind that, amid the enormous amount of live acts I’d seen up to that point, no other experience had topped the raw and ecstatic vigor of Rocket from the Crypt. I’ve seen a plethora of shows since that cloudy spring day, and my assessment has since proved to be 100% accurate.
Being an avid Refused fan and never having the esteemed opportunity to see them perform live, my youthful self was barely able to contain the restless fever of seeing Refused’s frontman, Dennis Lyxzén and his new, post-Refused band, The (International) Noise Conspiracy. To see a fraction of Refused open up for the greatest live act I had, and would ever see, was enough to blow the feeble mind of my 21-year-old self.
I escaped the evening intact, but only barely. It would be exactly 3 months (July 21, 2001) until I saw Rocket from the Crypt again, and I had to close the Hollywood Video where I worked an hour and a half early in order to do so, but that’s a story for another time.
We (I) here at The Prudent Groove would like to wish everyone a fantastical Valentine’s Day! In the spirit of good faith (and good musical taste), I offer these Prudent Groove Valentines for you to print out (not that I think you actually will). What you do with them, and who you give them to is prudently up to you. For those of you who find yourself on the 45rpm end of today’s festivities, PAIR UP! Here’s hoping your Valentine’s Day will be prudently groovy!
Vice President of The Prudent Groove Foundation of America (current member total: 1).