sound impressions

The flood of reuniting punk bands has now officially reached its nadir, as these two hard-core "legends" prove.

Both Cause For Alarm and Warzone hail from the early '80s New York skinhead scene, and while both have had their moments in the past, they should have stayed defunct.

It's hard to listen to the whole "spirit of youth" message when it's coming from dorks who have to be on the dark side of 30. After 10+ years in the hard-core scene, can't they come up with anything more insightful than songs about friendship and unity?

Cause For Alarm come out with their first new tracks in over a decade. Most of the kids buying this were probably being born when CFA made their debut. The four tracks here are actually better than the old stuff, but whatever initially gave the band its validity has long since disappeared.

Meanwhile, Warzone has worn so many hats during its existence skinhead, straight edge, cheese metal that it's hard to really take anything they do now seriously. The music is simple mosh hard-core with monotonous chanted vocals and inane lyrics. A song like "Skinhead Girl Warrior" with its Dokken-esque backing vocals and silly theme could have been played for laughs, but they're serious, and it's just embarrassing to listen to.

There's probably still millions of old punk rockers out there working the night shift at convenience stores and thinking about reuniting with their old mates. If any of them happen to read this please, think twice. G.D.

Flashback to 1987. Fila kicks, Guess? suspenders, and Louis Vuitton bags. Hip-hop was reaching its peak, and the mighty Boogie Down Productions crew was right in the thick of things, or more accurately, at the top of things. Fast forward to '95: hightop-fades have given way to dreads and braids, and the annals of hip-hop are filled with acts who could not stay on top for reasons as varied as the crews. They either got into acting and neglected their rhymes (Fresh Prince, Ice-T, L.L. Cool J), broke up (Eric B. & Rakim, 3rd Bass, NWA, EPMD), stayed away too long, and could not re-enter a market saturated by new jacks (M.C. Lyte, Special Ed, Run-DMC, Doug E. Fresh, Digital Underground), made one song that derailed a career (Big Daddy Kane), had unfortunate circumstances (Slick Rick and D.O.C.), ran out of things to say (Public Enemy), or simply dropped a wack album in the midst of a top-notch career (Kool Moe Dee).

The only mainstay from then to now is KRS-One. Check the hits: "Criminal Minded," "South Bronx," "My Philosophy," "You Must Learn," "Jack of Spades," "We In There," and so on. No need to ponder the reason for his longevity, kid, 'cause it ain't a mystery. Simply put, "In rap's atomic structure, [he] is the nucleus." He lets the biters know on the first joint, "Rappaz R. N. Dainja." The style that I am kickin' is like chicken/ It will be bitten, rewritten/Then performed for a $25 admission/Reviewed in The Source/You will listen then find something missing of course/It's skills/That's what you're fishin' for/It's lost . . .

What else? Like in all of his albums, he implores people to think, like in "The Truth," where he questions the validity of the "Adam & Eve" story. In "Free Mumia," he and Channel Live strike back at the Superwench, C. Delores Tucker, and all the anti-rap crusaders, telling them to find a worthwhile crusade and "listen to your children instead of dissin' 'em." In "Hold," the most remarkable testament yet to his genius at manipulating words, he rhymes only the words "hold" and "hole" while telling the story of one man's descent into self -destructive madness.

KRS-One never lets the times define him, but rather always defines and redefines himself. He reminds us that hip-hop is a culture, and remains true to all aspects of it, like in his homage to graffiti art, "Out For Fame." Because of this, he can still say with confidence after a decade of rockin', "I'm Number 1."T.H.

Ah, Lo-fi/Hi-fi garage rock. Images immediately come to mind of young guys and gals trying their best to look like The Velvet Underground or perhaps a roughed-up early Beatles, the latter achieving more of a roughed-up mountain-biking Mormon look. As for the music, like clothes, there are many styles to choose from as long as you stay in a 1950s, early 1960s time frame. I tend to hear quite a bit of Bo Diddley laced with some low grade '60s psychedelia, all washed ashore by a surf beat in most Garage rock albums, and Dragsploitation ... Now! fell right in line.

Fortunately for us all, The Drags rise above the standard garage rock grease puddle and deliver a spectacular 10". Even though you'll swear you've heard it before, you'll want to keep turning the damn thing over to hear it again and again anyway.

"What was the terrible secret of the killer band?" asks the inside (and I do mean inside) cover. My answer talent. The Drags separate themselves from the pack with their song writing and playing ability, both of which are sharp and aggressive. And speaking of aggressive, if you're one of those "I like garage rock because it's fun" people, don't buy this record. There is enough rage and angst on this platter to rival any new punk band, perhaps even Tucson punk legends, The Lovers. Check out the song "My Girlfriend's in the FBI" to see what I'm talking about.

Kudos must go the Lo-fi experts at Waterworks studio, who have really hit their stride in capturing the Drag's raw sound. I do believe that the only place you can purchase this fabulous record is at the fabulous Toxic Ranch, your village Estrus records dealer and home of "The Big-Jumbo." Buy two or three as they make lovely holiday gifts.M.R.

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