Neon Christ - 1984

12 Sep 2021 - Thorsten

Hardcore-Punk, Post-Punk | Southern Lord | Release date: 17 Sep 2021

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Southern Lord Recordings is a label run by fans of music for fans of music and they are not only known for releasing awesome new bands or great new releases by established bands but also for digging in the treasure chest of times gone by. Now they release a collection of songs by the forefathers of Atlanta hardcore, Neon Christ, and 1984 really shows how close Hardcore and Post-Punk were back in the day. A lesson in history that was not featured in many books or documentaries – a major mistake. Thank you, Greg Anderson!

A longtime fan of Neon Christ, Anderson called William DuVall (yes, that William DuVall of Alice in Chains-fame!!!) if he and the band might be up for a re-release of a record that was a hit in a small scene nearly 40 years ago and the answer was something like ”Yeah, but only if we do the new master in an analogue way from the old tape!” Of course Anderson was up to it and fortunately DuVall found the strictly analogue Welcome to 1979-studio in Nashville, Tennessee. And both sides worked out a way in which to reconstruct the diverse and yet highly cohesive record which now is 1984, with the A-Side featuring the songs from the original Parental Suppression 7” and the B-Side four songs from a Labor Day Session from 1984.

Interestingly both sides show very different facades of the band as Parental Suppression (the A-Side) is highly energetic Hardcore-Punk in the vein of Circle Jerks and the Dead Kennedys, with that certain twang of that early circle of West Coast bands but at the same time some of the urgency and teenage drive that the first Dischord records pervaded. When listening to singer Randy DuTeau laying his heart out in front of us it is like a crossing between Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Embrace, Fugazi) and Feargal Sharkey (The Undertones) which also indicates that he is not only snotting out some lyrics but also actually trying to sing, especially on the tracks from the Labor Day Session on the B-Side, especially on a track like ”The Knife That Cuts So Deep” or ”We Mean Business”. The sound of the record is really captivating and energetic, especially when listening to the Post-Punkish bass lines of some songs, here an example would be the middle part of ”Ashes To Ashes” after the somewhat minimalist intro. The reference to a band like Dead Kennedys is easy to see as William DuVall’s guitar lines in a song like ”It’s Mine” is like straight from the Bay Area.

Maybe the band was not heard over on the West Coast but one sees the typical 80s punk sound that later influenced a certain Green-ish trio from Berkeley to come up with songs like ”Going To Pasalacqua” or ”2000 Light Years Away”. Just listen to the title track of this record here and you will surely notice some similarities!

It is hard to come up with an “excuse” for several punk historians to not include Neon Christ in their canon of Hardcore-Punk from the USA, also because there were clear connections to the national scene, for example, one of the tracks which was featured on MDC’s label R Radical Records which led to even international exposure. The next generation of such historians is now able to forgo this mistake by listening to this record on the edge, which definitely shows a lot of things about this scene. Thanks to William and Greg for “giving” us these songs again.