Classic Compilations: Why are We Here?

Classic Compilations: Why are We Here?

There are a good many compilations that have the ability to change one’s view point on a particular genre. Others simply serve as label samplers: an attempt at marketing bands in a cohort to more easily hock their collective goods.

Why Are We Here? isn’t really either (alright, it was released via North Carolina’s No Core imprint and included bands from its roster). It’s an artifact from a time when genres still hadn’t been completely codified, even as that was unquestionably on the horizon. Dug up over at the Maximum Rock ‘n Roll headquarters and posted HERE, the 1983 compilation splices together aggressive groups that each work in varying degrees of hardcore and punk.

The only group to go on to bigger and better things is Corrosion of Conformity, but in this appearance, the band probably doesn’t sound the way that most would imagine. Here’s the play by play…

Bloodmobile: These guys veer back and forth between a Black Flag, 7 Seconds and some more poppy, early ‘80s hardcore stuffs. Bloodmobile’s actually pretty entertaining at this late date. There might be a bit of a nascent political slant to a few of these tracks, but at least it’s well intentioned. And even if its songs aren’t necessarily all that complex, the variety of pacings that the group utilizes makes each of its three songs here more than passable even to you HxCx snobs.

Corrosion of Conformity: No, at this early date, Corrosion of Conformity isn’t what it would become when it gained some fame later on its career. There’s a pretty distinct Henry Rollins influence (from his Black Flag days) in those vocals, though. Musically, the band hasn’t as of yet incorporated any sludgy elements into its work. Instead, the tunes come off as something from the DC or NYC axis of early ‘80s hardcore. Some critics might attempt to distinguish the band from either coastal movements, but this is clearly ExCxHxC related even as CoC works in a bit of an original take on the genre.

Stillborn Christians: Clearly politically motivated, Stillborn Christians even contribute a song focusing on the “New Right,” which remains eerily applicable even in 2010. The introductory portion of that track as well as the its breakdown and the group’s second track each include some weird out of tune approach to hardcore. And by the time that the ensemble gets to the slow portion of “Aggression” it becomes clear that the band is as experimental (if one can be in the hardcore genre) as anyone else function in that era. Stillborn Christians aren’t out of step with Texas’ the Big Boys, but come off more muscular, less funky and just weirder (As a side the band’s bassist, Jeb Bishop, went out to play with the Flying Luttenbachers and a spate of jazz groups during the ensuing decades).

No Labels: This group only contributed two tracks, but the second one is the only offering to break the two-minute mark. No Labels, while sporting the best name outta this clutch of groups, is really the least musically adept and interesting. There’s worse hardcore out there and better stuff here, so stick to that.