Somewhere around 1987-ish, a young and impressionable me had pretty much decided that I’d had all the really visceral thrills I was ever going to get from Heavy Metal (because even though there had been some really good stuff released later, it was never going to get any better than Reign in Blood), so I turned to Punk. Not the misery-filled, Panda-coloured UK stuff but the brighter and generally faster US Hardcore. I was 16 going on 17 (as you do) at the time and the discovery of Minor Threat at a time when smoking and drinking weren’t the sultry sirenesque temptations of later life (about 18) and nobody would let me do the other one, so I was full of joy that I’d found something that spoke both for me and to me. And through Minor Threat, I arrived at 7 Seconds – an equally fast, shouty act who sang about things that I could connect with, but with a more musical edge to it and a somewhat less preachy delivery than Minor Threat’s peers who took Ian MacKaye’s Straight Edge ethos and turned it into a really negative set of rules and regulations that the band would eventually rally against on their 2nd (and final) album Out of Step.
I mention all this because once all the wide-eyed wonder and sense of community that such a scene originally nurtured had turned into occasionally really nasty following and enforcement of ‘commandments’, I realised something that I never truly understood at the time, and still fail to do with each successive musical community I’ve passed through.
Most people involved in any given musical ‘scene’ are some of the most narrow-minded sods I’ve ever met.
New Wind came out a year or two before I got hold of it, but the backlash still followed in its wake. Thanking U2 “For Inspiration”, wearing Megadeth and Slayer T-shirts in the photos, growing their hair a bit and producing music of a much sunnier disposition seemed to have upset a lot of people.
Not me, as it remains one of my favourite albums of this period and probably came along at a pivotal time as this was one of the first truly positive (in terms of sound and lyrical outlook) records that I owned, and opened my mind up to all manner of musical possibilities. Looking back, it still looks a little odd sat in amongst my other purchases of the time as it’s not an outlook that seems to have caught on much at the time (not to me, anyway) and it has a certain twee naiive charm, but it was made by and for people at an age where we were supposed to be naiive, so nowadays it serves as a nice little bookmark to a time when I thought that maybe the world would be a much better place if everyone got together and did something positive thing or other. Of course, I’m now a grumpy cynical git but it serves me well to look back at a time when I wasn’t.
The last track’s pretty awful though. And I can confirm that my current StraightEdge-o-meter stands at a creditable in some eyes but somewhat depressing to me 66.6(recurring)%. I need to get out a bit more.