A staple of the 80s and 90s scene was the compilation tape. Usually put together by fanzines like us, bands would provide a handful of songs to be collected on a single cassette and then sold at the lowest price required to cover the price of the blank tapes and the postage to mail them. We put together this comp in the late 80s and included every band that was kind enough to participate. These are not our favorite bands, nor do we endorse the premise of every song, but is a good glimpse of some of the bands and styles of that time. Looking back, it was a pretty weird mix of the kind of people you would see come together at a show - a mix of hardcore kids, skinheads (note that the local skins that appear on this comp were nationalist, but neither racist nor homophobic), thrashers, and just general misfits and outcasts who all had the scene as their common core. We didn't focus on our differences but tried to heed the 'walk together, rock together' philosophy.
We actually got complaints about including the song 'Animal Auschwitz', as people [rightfully so] pointed out that, though animal cruelty is terrible, it pales in comparison the atrocities of the Holocaust. It wasn't uncommon for bands to using exaggerations to try to shock and make you pay attention to the message, and I am certain the band did not intend to diminish the terrible memories of Auschwitz and The Holocaust.
The Philly scene had multiple 'skinhead' groups and this band was squarely in the camp of those that, though nationalistic, did NOT spout racism or any of the worst traits of some of the other local skin groups.
We cast a pretty wide net for bands to participate in the compilation, and appreciated everyone who responded, even if their music was outside of the core we typically covered. Gunslingers were one such band, brought to our attention by Rib Finley of Doggy Style, whose friend Wade Walston was the singer of Gunslingers. Wade prob has the most "pure punk cred" on the comp, as he was in the movie Suburbia in the band US Bombs. The songs here are bit more mellow, but super rad.
Some bands had demos out with only a handful of songs, so they asked us to only include one song on the compilation so that those wanting more would buy the full demo. This song has as great a foreboding build up as some of the best Bad Brains tracks.
E. A. B.
This band deserves a separate article, as their drummer Scott was the editor of the fanzine Total Thrash that inspired us to start our own fanzine.
E. A. B. stands for Epileptic Albino Bullfrogs and continued the tried and true tradition of bands with 3 initial names. They also didn't take themselves too seriously, which always made their shows a lot of fun.
More on E. A. B. later... for now, LISTEN!
Most of the demos from these bands were produced on a shoestring budget, sometimes just by placing a tape recorder in the rehearsal space and letting it fly.
Bands like this benefitted from the low-fi and sometimes muddy production, making the wave of sound more menacing.
Visual Difference were a straight edge band from Arizona, and these tracks are pretty great thrash-y singalong tunes. With some rad mosh parts. But can you get any more "positive" than two guys high-fiving in the band artwork? And tracks like "United and Excited" and "Going Gets Tuff?" Even Crucial Youth seems hate edge compared to Visual Difference!
This band offers an example of two great 80s hardcore traditions: A band named Dead <someone or something> and a song that is only 4 seconds long! A surprisingly melodic and tuneful band whose demo was highly listenable! However, when we asked which songs we could include in our comp, they gave us that weren't our favorite. But we were just glad they were willing to participate!
We sold a lot of zines to overseas customers but our comp was mainly US bands, with the exception of God Corp.