Sometimes bands transcend their genres, sometimes they are even unfairly dismissed by non-fans because of the preconceptions of their music style. Bad Religion is one of those bands that has taken the genre of Punk Rock to a level like no other before or since. They are considered to be a more well spoken and educated punk and that would only be the tip of the iceberg.
Why This Album?
On the surface, Bad Religion is one of the many hundreds of Punk Bands that came out of Reagan’s reign of the 1980’s. This was a genre of music that came from the multitude of disillusioned kids who needed to be heard and music was their voice. However, unlike the bands that only used screaming as an outlet, Bad Religion went another direction, they actually did their research first and developed a style of intelligent lyrics with deep and topical subjects all with a punk sensibility. Headed up by four high school students from LA, the band released their first album, ‘How could Hell be any worse?’ in 1980 and before long grew into the powerhouse we know and love today.
I discovered Bad Religion sometime between 1990 and 1994 around the same time I was getting into Nirvana and the seattle sound. It may have been the famous Stranger than Fiction, or even Against the Grain, but needless to say, they spoke to my angsty teen self and boy was I listening. The thing that struck me first was the intelligence behind the lyrics. I had not gotten into Punk mostly due to much of the unintelligible screaming that went on. I know I sound like an old person here, but you have to understand, pre-Nirvana I was listening to Buddy Holly and CCR (I was also raised by an English-Lit teacher), so for music like this, it was certainly something new and unexpected to me.
Greg Graffin and Brett Gurewitz’ lyrics and vocal harmonizing stunned me with how clear and thoughtful they were in their message and tone while backing it all with some serious rock. They knew their purpose, and they told it in a way that made listeners think. It wasn’t just someone complaining about the times, these were people who put thought and effort into their music and I could appreciate that on it’s own, but the sheer power behind the music behind the lyrics was riveting. Soon this band was on regular rotation along with the softer Posies, sludgier Nirvana and the rest of my growing eclectic collection of 90’s gems.
After graduating high school I lost touch with Bad Religion’s newer releases. Not because I wanted to, but mostly due to moving away and not having money to buy all the music I wanted. It wasn’t until several years later in 2002 with the album The Process of Belief that I rediscovered them and I was not disappointed.
In the years that I had not heard anything new from this band, they had become more polished and a much tighter machine. While they still had the power and anger behind them, they had so much more as well. Everything was perfectly in place with Greg Graffin in the lead harmonizing vocals with Gurewitz as Gurewitz tore up the guitar, while the rest of the band solidified so perfectly around the core it almost hurt. Having just gone through some tough emotional times of my own, the sheer Ferocity of this album drew me in and help to keep me going. This was my anthem on days soft songs wouldn’t do, this was how I felt about everything and I loved it. I think I listened to this album every day for the next year and it never got old.
Opening with the intense yet thoughtful song, Supersonic it tears through song after song about life, struggles and of course the regular socio political statements. Every track, no matter the theme or meaning behind it, was a pure pleasure of sonic enjoyment and I lapped it up like a man dying of thirst. I had rediscovered Bad Religion as an adult and found that they had also grown up while I was away.
Even though I listen to them to this day, looking forward to each and every new release, I have yet to see them in concert. I hope to one day, since I have been a fan for well over twenty years, it only seems I should huh? (Man I feel old sometimes.) They havent put anything out for a few years but, seeing that the climate is right again, I have a feeling our heroes will return to us. We will be waiting, with baited breath.
This is a tough one. Once again, this is an album that every track works so damn well. There is one though, one song that I can easily say is one of my all time favorite tracks. The strange thing is that it isn’t the heavy rock like the rest of the album, but more of an introspective observation of fathers and sons. It is Sorrow and it is astounding.
Every other track is awesome, but this one. damn. There is an amazing acoustic version of this one on the Deluxe edition of New Maps of Hell. If you really want to see what an amazing Singer Songwriter duo Graffin and Gurewitz are, you need to hear the stripped down acoustic versions of some of their best tracks. It will really change your perspective on something you may consider just another punk rock band.
Ok, Where do I get it?
You can pick this one up pretty much anywhere that has a decent music selection. I recommend Amoeba Music where you can grab a copy for around $14. Or, of course you could go the digital route with folks like Spotify.
Please, don’t stop with this album though, they have a lot more and man is it all good. Check them out here, www.badreligion.com
Late to the Game 06/26/2018
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