One of my favorite record labels coming up as a punk kid was SST, founded by Greg Ginn in 1978 (i definitely have my criticisms for Ginn, but one thing that is definitely a positive is that he loves cats). From Bad Brains (the greatest punk/hardcore band of all time), fIREHOSE, Hüsker Dü, Dinosaur Jr., Saccharine Trust, Negativeland, Screaming Trees, Sonic Youth, Soundgarden to so much more; the label had a variety of sounds, from straight up hardcore punk and reggae, to jazz-inspired and ‘avant garde’ rock, to country.
For this post i figured i would pay tribute to the label who inspired many a kid like me, and who sprouted more than a few bands who ended up being loved by many.
i’m gonna start with The Minutemen, one of my favorite bands of all time. i suppose you could technically file them under ‘punk’, but they were so much more than that. Like many other great bands they were heavily influenced by jazz, funk, ‘classic rock’ and a range of other styles. Mike Watt is one of the greatest bassists of all time (and happens to be criminally underrated), and ‘Joe McCarthy’s Ghost’ (the song i play here) is seen by appreciators of the band to be one of his greatest bass lines.
The Minutemen’s catalog is full of love songs to the people’s class, heavily and consistently critiquing capitalism, neoliberalism, fascism, and imperialism- so it’s a given as to why they are one of my favorite bands. The band ended upon the physical death of D. Boon (due to a car accident) in 1985.
i am not as good of a musician as George Hurley (drums), D. Boon (guitar/vocals) or Mike Watt (bass/vocals), but i hope this updated ‘2022’ remix/rework of ‘Joe McCarthy’s Ghost’ is respectful to the legacy of The Minutemen.
One of my favorite albums ever released on the SST label is the Meat Puppets’ Up On The Sun. They are one of those bands who, like many metal and punk bands, started out a bit more ‘noise/hardcore’ oriented, then by the next album started adding elements of the things they would be more known for (think Kill ‘Em All to Ride The Lightning). You definitely hear early on what they would come to be; however, in general, the first (self-titled) album (or their EP In A Car) sounds fairly different from the second album, Meat Puppets II, and NOTHING like the third album, Up On The Sun. If you know me well enough, you know i love me some early Meat Puppets. That said, i am a sucker for some wonderful melodies. From Up On The Sun on, that’s what they did.
i may actually post some more Meat Puppets stuff at some point; as for now, here’s me playing drums to ‘Seal Whales’, a pretty chill instrumental.
(The photo at the beginning, while beautiful, is not real. It’s a digital creation by Elena Vizerskaya. Fur seals are in the southern part of the world, and Beluga whales are in the north. Also… sadly, seals and whales aren’t exactly friends. To me, seals and whales are both beautiful.)
The first piece of vinyl i ever purchased (at the age of 15) was catalog no. SST 003- Black Flag’s Jealous Again, the six and a half-minute ep. The rest is history.
Here, i play to one of the songs from that ep (where Ron Reyes was on vocals), ‘Revenge’, as well as ‘Police Story’ from the Henry Rollins-era Damaged album.
Robo (que tocó la batería en esos dos discos) es uno de los mejores bateristas del hardcore/punk.
Now we have another great SST release (017 to be exact), Kill From The Heart by Austin, Texas’ own The Dicks. Staunchly anticapitalist/antiracist/antifascist and pro-LGBTQ+ (Gary Floyd had no problem battling anyone who opposed his existence as a gay man), The Dicks had the kind of energy i wish bands still had. They understood that where you stood mattered, because, even though people love to claim punk and metal is for outsiders, regardless of ethnicity, orientation, etc.; the fact that Floyd had to fight people at shows proves this is not always the case. The fact that folks who are not European still get told they don’t belong in these scenes prove this is not the case. The fact that people who aren’t dudes are more scrutinized for playing ‘heavy’ music shows this isn’t always the case.
As a person who fills out some of the checks on this list, it’s important for me to know what position a band takes on particular issues.
Also, The Dicks had no problem being associated with the sickle and hammer, in one way or another (just as The Minutemen wrote a song literally called ‘Sickles And Hammers’).
Word. Also, The Dicks have a love song to Marilyn Buck. Therefore i love The Dicks.
From Kill From The Heart we bring you ‘Anti-Klan’ (pt. 1), and ‘No Nazi’s Friend’. Something tells me that David Yow (of the Jesus Lizard) was massively inspired by Gary Floyd.
And finally, we have a different kind of SST- a little nod to ‘Sade’s Sweetest Taboo’ (or Sea Surface Temperature?), by Prince Rogers Nelson.
i am gonna be honest. When i first saw the cover of SST years ago, the punk kid in me was scratching my head. ‘Is Prince gonna do some punk? Look out now!!!’ But no… the song is in regards to the devastation that occurred after Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005 (interestingly, that was Michael Jackson’s 47th solar return). The song is part gospel, part social commentary; not uncommon in Prince’s 35+ album catalog. ‘S.S.T.’ was released specifically to raise money to help those reeling from the disaster. All proceeds went to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s Hurricane Katrina Displaced Residents Fund.
i was messing around, and felt the song sounded pretty good in half-time, so that’s what i did here.