Bad Religion Generator
Bad Religion 'Generator' (Epitaph 1992)
Every weekend we would go to Fray or Wee Dunc's to have our carry outs before heading up town. It was usually Fray's on a Saturday before we went to the Mission. Two cans of McEwan's, half a bottle of vodka and a litre of orange juice was enough to get me set up for a night of cheap Red Stripe. Stupid and unnecessary, but to paraphrase Pat Benatar; we were young. It was amazing what Fray's dad would put up with at least four guys getting hammered in his back room every weekend whilst listening to punk, hardcore and metal relentlessly. There was the odd bit of EBM, but we tend not to talk about that now.
In 1990/91 Fray would often play a band that sounded like an Irish folk band played at the wrong speed. My uneducated metal ears were not familiar with this crooning, melodic and speedy attack. I would quite often take the p*ss out of what I considered poppy and inconsequential nonsense.
Slowly, but surely, like a musical parasite, it embedded itself in my brain and I found myself asking Fray for a tape of 'Against The Grain' by Bad Religion and it became one of my favourite melodic punk albums. In fact it's probably the best melodic punk recorded, perfectly formed like a speeded up and beefed up version of one of the first three Ramones' LPs.
'Generator' was their 1992 follow up and is still a very good record, but it doesn't quite have the anger mixed with pop hooks which made their previous record such a masterpiece. 'Generator' is a song that I still find myself humming and singing without having actually heard the song for at least a decade. Hearing it back today, I was still impressed with its perpetual motion, superb vocal phrasing, brilliant harmonies and amazing lyrics. I was a little taken aback by the awkward, angular funk bass breakdown which I had obviously wiped form my memory as an aberration. Despite that, it remains one of their finest tracks and one which would regularly be an opener on mix tapes for at least a couple of years.
This LP also includes energetic and driving classics like 'No Direction', 'Atomic Garden' and 'Fertile Crescent' which is probably the most 'Against the Grain' track with some excellent trademark vocal harmonies. However, overall Bad Religion wash over you and they're really the perfect drinking band; great tunes and sing alongs but not a huge amount of musical depth.
Bad Religion are a fascinating band in other ways though. Vocalist, Greg Graffin, is a professor who teaches at Cornell and UCLA and writes some of the most literate and intellectual lyrics ever to grace punk rock and guitarist, Brett Gurewitz, is the founder of punk label behemoth Epitaph and a recovering drug addict. They also released a sophomore album in 1982, 'Into the Unknown', which is a prog rock, keyboard driven opus which caused a massive backlash form the punk scene and caused the band to split up, before reforming to record the watershed LP 'Suffer' in 1986.
Bad Religion are far above the pop punk scene they helped create in every way; their sense of melody is second to none, their lyrics are without compare and their harmonies and 'oozin aahs' have been mimicked but never surpassed in over 30 years.
Alan 'Alan' Walker, The Talker, phoned me whilst I was writing this; he was a constant companion on those drunken nights in Trinity and I hadn't heard from him in ages. A strange case of good timing from the glaikit genius of engineering. Time for an 'Island of Death' reunion? Who knows....
- Panasonic DMC-FZ18