Friday, May 26, 2023

Bad Religion - Against the Grain demos (198?)

When southern-Cali hardcore legends Bad Religion reconvened in the late '80s not only did their new material supersede anything (and quite frankly everything) they put their name on in the first half of the decade, it put to shame anything their punk cohorts were responsible for around the same era. Their initial blush of reunion records - Suffer (1988), No Control (1989) and Against the Grain in 1990 were so consistently gratifying and vital, the band's newfound formula of erudite lyrics, heightened melodic acumen, and breakneck speed, was one that was imitated the world over, but never improved upon.  In fact, this trifecta was so astonishing I can't think of a trio of consecutive albums by any artist (maybe aside from Cheap Trick) that could really hold a candle to Bad Religion in the post-Reagan era. 

As is the case with many if not most bands, BR were no strangers to cutting a demo reel before sealing the deal in a proper studio. Hearing the embryonic stages of songs you come to know and love is always a curious endeavor, and seeking out prototypes by Greg Graffin and the boys proved to be worth the effort, given that there are easily discernable differences between them and the finished product.  So far as Against the Grain is concerned it's not clear how far in advance the nine songs I'm presenting here were cut, nor is it even clear who's playing on them. Drum machines are employed, and obviously Graffin is on the mic, yet it's not evident whose handling guitar and/or keyboard duties. In my estimation axe wielder Brett Gurewitz was the most likely perpetrator.  Nonetheless, what's so revealing about these tracks is how minimal the arrangements were in their nascent form, plus the fact that about half of them were originally written on synthesizers. Amazingly, classic album cuts like "Quality of Quantity," and the title track translate effectively in both analogue and digital contexts, and are delivered with the same breathless pace regardless of what instruments they're conveyed with. Absolutely fascinating insight for any Bad Religion diehards that might be in the audience. Enjoy.

01. Operation Rescue
02. Modern Man
03. Walk Away
04. God Song
05. 21st Century (Digital Boy)
06. Quality of Quantity
07. Faith Alone
08. Against the Grain
09. Get Off

1 comment:

billy said...

a neat find, thanks