July 15, 2024

Uniform Choice – Screaming For Change  : indulge your inner Henry Rollins with some 80s hardcore punk


20 January 2017

Even though I drifted through the eighties, unaware of the fun that America was having with hardcore, this takes me right back to my teens in a provincial town in England in the dog days of the seventies. It has all the tropes and fun of hard UK punk of the late seventies – this could be Conflict or the UK Subs. Mucho angriness. Many songs telling you what to do or feeling sorry for you because you don’t know the truth. Some existential angst too – “it’s all the fucking same”. It would only be more fun if it came with its own moshpit full of youths in sweaty T-shirts, gobbing over each other.

This is a reissue / remaster of Uniform Choice’s 1986 debut album. Guitars are a fuzzy tumble and drums rush past, while the songs start and stop as the lead vocalist shouts. Polemic looms large: “Think you’ve got a choice? Well there is no choice”. Vocals fall off the edge of declaiming into a flurry of rattling anger as guitars race and scuzz about. Drums sound like a cardboard box and the overall sound is thin by today’s standards, making it conversely, full of the spirit of garage and basic recording venues.

This was part of Straight Edge, a nice American twist where, instead of swearing and drinking, punks swore off drink and drugs, setting themselves apart from their stoner college pals. Nice thing is, it made shows all-ages. Wish us old punks had thought of that.

Towards the end, In Time, has proper old school guitar soloing of the simple punk style then closing on a poem / sound collage fulfils the idealistic artistic spirit of the age. These were young men trying to change the world and, though the multi-issue of different coloured vinyl targets the demographic of aging punks, it is impossible to pass by the racing excitement of a thrilling time. Raw spirit doesn’t grow old or stale.

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