Back in 1993 I got this amazing hardcore punk compilation called Faster & Louder. It was my first introduction to a larger world than I knew from the Dead Kennedys and Minor Threat. Bands like The Dicks, SSD, Mission of Burma and D.O.A. blew my mind, but it was the 52 second blast of “Lights Out” from the Angry Samoans that really struck my young brain’s fancy. For years that was all I knew of the band, but that changed with The Unboxed Set, which collects all of the band’s 12′ release onto one compact disc.
The fact that the band’s discography can even fit onto one compact disc is a common thread for a lot of hardcore bands in the 80s. Something equally common is the lack of consistency in the songs. The first 11 tracks make up debut album Inside My Brain from 1980 as well as their split with The Depraved in 1981, and it’s a mixed bag to be sure, with lyrics that were cringe-worthy back then and outright embarrassing now. 1982’s Back From Samoa fares a lot better, and includes the aforementioned “Lights Out” which continues to be my favorite track from the band – it’s a blast to sign along to “Poke poke, poke your eyes out!” But then they have a song called “Homo Sexual” and the fun I was having pretty much curdled.
This is pretty much how the whole of The Unboxed Set works. For every fun, quirky hardcore punk blast there’s a song or two that’s just dire in the way it comes across today. The later releases fix this problem a bit, but the energy inherent in the first two releases are missing. The band have made no secret of the acrimony that infested them during their run, but there’s enough fun here to make me come back to some choice songs every once in a while.
I miss that Faster & Louder comp, though. Freakin’ GREAT record…