It’s not often when a seminal band run their natural course and become defunct only to spiritually be reborn as a new band of sorts – and that new band be even better. I cannot think of many examples where this happens.
The Yardbirds – Led Zeppelin, granted, but who’d have thought Minor Threat would be bettered by Fugazi?
After a bit of research it appears an awful lot of my selection for – 20 Albums – were released in April of their respective years. An odd fact. Maybe there’s something in it?
Rewind to April 1990 and Fugazi released their 1st “proper” album. Coming fast on the heels of two outstanding E.P.’s (Fugazi and Margin Walker) their debut album saw their output, for me, hit its peak. Many will disagree with this. Loads of great albums follow Repeater, almost as good…. almost.
Turnover (Picciotto) slides in with winding guitars. It builds, but it does not keep you waiting long. After the minute mark it’s already blasting you with power slides. It lulls, forms, lulls, forms more so. A very tight earnest sound showcasing great musicianship. Building to a crescendo, it begins to pog. For a moment it even sounds like The Wonder Stuff. You scratch your head – but it’s fantastic.
Repeater (MacKaye) eases in with a rolling screech and almost echoes U2. I really didn’t want to reference U2. Ever. But it does a tad. It maintains a real alternative sound but you can sense the world conquering possibilities on first listen to Repeater. Genuine alternative musicianship.
Brendan #1 ambles in with real purpose. Drums and bass form the track. Then guitars layer the piece with honest menace. It clatters along building, dipping a rising, a great instrumental.
Merchandise (MacKaye) personifies Repeaters sound. It glides but is very angular. Punchy. Lyrically scathing what you buy and why you buy it. It really is like a grown up Minor Threat.
Onto Blueprint (Picciotto) and for the first time on Repeater you see Guy Picciotto’s truly great songwriting skills. I saw Fugazi live at Edwards No.8 in Birmingham after the first two E.P.’s but pre-repeater. It was just one of those moments. It is catalogued in my gig history if you scroll way back on this blog. I’ve said it before but when a band play material you have not yet heard at a gig usually it’s a cue to go to the bar / toilet.
When Fugazi played Blueprint way back then, the crowd nodded, then jaws really dropped. It was a gobsmacking moment. It charged the crowd so much that when they launched into the next track the venue exploded into chaos. That pent up feeling in Blueprint paved the way for everyone to loose their inhibitions and go for it. That is what good music is all about. Unlocking expression. An inspirational track and arguably the bands best ever piece of music.
I do repeat myself – but listen to Blueprint.
Sieve-Fisted Find (Picciotto) has a more full on solid sound from the off. The instruments jam so tightly. The band sound incredible. A near sing along end yet never losing a truly authentic punk ethic. Sensible post punk that begs for stadiums.
Greed (MacKaye) Builds. Jams. Stops. Then glides in a near show-off of just how tight Fugazi are. In stages in almost sounds like a non-rock QOTSA.
Two Beats Off (Picciotto) chugs and jags. Low key vocal is still evocative. True art alt rock.
Styrofoam (Mackaye) builds like we now know Fugazi can do so well. Shouty and giving itself a license to cut loose it also restrains itself and stays on the rails – just.
Reprovisional (Picciotto) rubberstamps Picciotto as being a strong a songwriter as Mackaye. Who’d have thunk it? It has a very quiet moment before it zones out with a surprising wimper.
Shut The Door (Mackaye) sees a slower pace. Mackeye sings before getting shouty. The track becomes darker and massively more angular. It lulls, restrains, shouty angular, then almost becomes dub before it phases out.
Fugazi deserve massive respect for spurning the attention of major record labels. Repeater has sold over a million copies despite never charting and being distributed by a very small label (Dischord). I’m sure many more have heard it through “other” means via the Internet.
A valued addition to my Top 20 Albums.