Anti-Flag 1992 / New Red Archives 2021
Pittsburgh’s purveyors of political punk put out a proposition that pugnacious punters can’t pass by.
They might have been a bunch of ennui-entranced suburban bums but their acerbic vitriol, bolstered by acidic riffs, was real enough to seep through the years into here and now, the Pennsylvanian ensemble’s first performances feeling especially sharp on this, their demonstration cassette – reissued on CD almost three decades later. Laid down and self-released at the time when fanzines that used to distribute independent artists’ items reigned supreme, some of the vim and vigor of the songs on offer would be lost once the trio reached the studio in 1996 to record “Die For The Government” – the band’s full-length debut for an established label, on which only a batch of their early pieces landed, cut anew, “Red, White And Brainwashed” and the such – so going back to the punks’ roots should not be a completist-only route: it’s part of history today.
Brought to the masses again, bile-infused and riot-inciting tracks like “They Don’t Protect You” haven’t lost an iota of their state-targeting assault, despite a somewhat muddy sound – a contrast to the crisp-clear, catchy cry of “I Hate People Like You” that Andy Flag’s four strings propel to rock ‘n’ roll heaven. However, “Your Daddy Was A Rich Man (Your Daddy’s Fucking Dead)” and the similar, slower material hit just as hard even without expletives, letting Justin Sane’s guitar support the combo’s verbal attack, whereas “She’s My Little Go-Go Dancer” finds Pat Thetic’s drums kick the dirt upon the most romantic lyrics in the threesome’s canon.
Aiming their blame at hypocrites of all walks of life, the Yinzers are equally belligerent on “Class Plague” and “Davey Destroyed The Punk Scene” yet they render the tempo-shifting, queer-sympatico “Betty Sue Is Dead” as peaceful reggae, British-style. Still, if the players get “Daddy’s Wearing Mommies Clothing” to marry their instrumental and vocal prowess to a memorable melody, a half-minute “Song For Jesus Christ” and the tellingly-titled “10 Seconds” don’t dwell on music at all. Closer to the present, the aforementioned here and now, the AF’s take on MISSION OF BURMA’s “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver” shows the ensemble managed to retain the edge their demo had and bring it into the 2000’s, and there’s a little surprise in their ability to stay strong. After all, politics are eternal – and so is protest.