MINOR THREAT – “MINOR THREAT (Comp)”
Minor Threat was one of those bands that somehow slipped through our ears, mine and Andy’s. We knew the name, of course, but somehow were never exposed to their music early on.
I didn’t hear them till the early nineties, buying a cassette at a used record store that contained almost all of their material. As you might guess, I was mighty impressed.
And though this week’s choice was Andy’s it easily could’ve been mine as I consider them the best hardcore band of all time. Meaning, they beat out Angry Samoans, Fear, Dead Kennedy’s, Circle Jerks, Black Flag and The Avengers for me.
So get set for the following dual texting classic album review. As you’re probably aware, if you haven’t been certified in the proper care of rabid animals, you’re best to steer clear of the following chaos to ensue.
So, just sit back, and keep telling yourself that it’s not really happening, that it’s only a movie, that it’s only a dream and that everything will be just fine.
Slimedog- So we kind of missed this band in the eighties. When did you become aware of their awesomeness?
Andy- Well I’m not sure how I missed them, but I think it may have had something to with their DIY methodology of record distribution. Nevertheless their influence and greatness in the hardcore punk world is hard to ignore. Of course we are talking about DC’s Minor Threat, who along with the Bad Brains and Black Flag (Rollins and MacKaye were childhood friends) paved the foundation of hardcore.
Slimedog- I would include Captain & Tennille with that bunch but I heartily agree. I didn’t really hear them until the early nineties when I bought a cassette from a used record store that had their complete catalog. They’re now my favorite hardcore band of all time.
Andy- I caught wind of them in a backwards manor. I was a big fan of Government Issue and Dag Nasty who had links to Minor Threat. I also was aware of Fugazi.
Slimedog- I remember you playing those tapes in your car of them and they’re both Washington DC Bands. I liked those two bands, too. But for some reason I can’t get into Fugazi.
Andy- Yeah, I hear ya. I think the common thread is, of course, the imagination of Ian MacKaye. He’s quite an interesting individual.
Slimedog- And he invented the term “straight edge.” I believe we were part of the eighties Boston straight edge crew that congregated at The Rat every weekend.
Andy- Ha ha. I’d say we were more part of the “crooked edge”.
Slimedog- Yeah, or maybe the “we might not see you alive next week” crew. The only time I heard someone say straight edge was when they were looking for a razor to cut a line of coke.
Andy- So, getting to the music, the first tune we’ll explore is “I Don’t Wanna Hear It.” One of my favorites. A rather simple tune with with some interesting inflections on the title phrase.
Slimedog- “I don’t wanna hear it, none of your bullshit.” There’s a Ramone like clarity to the song.
Andy- True and for a simple tune there’s plenty of emotion. Which actually seems to be a trademark with Minor Threat. It’s almost like they only say something if its worth saying.
Slimedog- They’re kind of like a darker, more serious Ramones at least lyrically.
Andy- Well since you mentioned “Straight Edge” let’s give it a look see next.
Slimedog- With the two sets of vocals going on it reminds me of the Angry Samoans.
Andy- Yes I agree, very reminiscent of West Coast hardcore. Again with lots of their trademark emotion. Maybe the reason why Minor Threat only lasted four years was they ran out of things to say.
Slimedog- And though we were certainly not straight edge, I don’t remember us ever going to a bar just to drink. It was always to hear some great music. I just think it’s important that whatever vice someone has that they don’t let it take over their life, so many better things to be focused on- like music.
Andy- Nice thought there. Moving right along let’s check out their name sake song “Minor Threat.” A bit slower start with a pickup in the chorus.
Slimedog- I hear the influence of Wire in this song.
Andy- Yeah sort of a cross between Wire and The Ramones. I find it interesting how every tune by them always has something very specifically personal to say. Unlike say The Ramones who sing about all kinds of bazaar stuff.
Slimedog- I do think, much like how The Ramones have the true essence of punk in their music, so do Minor Threat have the true essence of hardcore in theirs.
Andy- Agreed. I think their monotonic vocal inflections have a lot to do with their awesome hardcore sound. At least the kind I like best. I think the two front men who did it best were McKaye and Morris.
Slimedog- And how about the vocal interaction of “In My Eyes?” A very calm line followed by a near hysterical one. And an ominous, slower verse followed by a thrashing, hardcore chorus.
Andy- Yes another one of my favorite tunes. And as usual another tune with a message. This time anti-drug. Nice changes of pace and cool guitar licks.
Slimedog- My favorite song by them, and Cry Havoc does a wonderful cover of this song. In the song “Minor Threat”, the first line is, “We’re not the first and I hope we’re not the last,” and ends with “We’re just a minor threat, with a promise.” And I think their brand of true, raw hardcore lives on in bands like Cry Havoc and Damn Broads.
Andy- And many other bands as well, including metal bands. Hardcore has always been my favorite genre. There’s nothing else I’ve experienced as exciting or action packed.
Slimedog- Except for getting your weenie stuck inside a pencil sharpener. That was a perilous but exciting episode for me. Next time it’s my pick and I’m leaning towards Captain & Tennille’s album “Muskrat Love & Others Odes To Bestiality.”
Andy- Sounds good. I’ll wear my captain’s hat and you can throw on that sexy dress I like.
Slimedog- (blushes uncontrollably)