Friday, November 26, 2010
Review: Yuppicide - "Anthology: '88-'98"
Yuppicide is one of those classic developmental punk bands that gained a huge following with their aesthetic and often outlandish outfits and performances despite not being particularly good from a musical standpoint or being particularly inventive when it came to songwriting.
Jesse Jones’ accented British snarl gives the late '80s NYHC band a sound that more closely resembles the late '70s and early '80s Oi! scene than the burgeoning hardcore community that was spawning bands like Sick of It All, Youth of Today and Madball. The pace is a bit more stiff, errant guitar solos occasionally fill space between lyrics, and the aesthetic lacks the austerity of the reputation the scene would eventually earn.
In that way, Yuppicide almost comes closer to fellow NYHC misfit kinfolk Murphy’s Law, playing around with 2-tone styles like “Ska Army,” and the sluggish “Bang Bang” among other experiments. Though generally following the chord progressions with his vocal melodies with little deviation, Jones hits a stride on “Yellow Journalism” that reflects the NYHC style better than anything else on the original 1988 demo.
After the first nine-song demo, there’s quite a bit of redundancy on the Anthology, as multiple versions of “Fistful of Credit Cards,” “Roots of Scorn,” “Bang Bang" and “Yellow Journalism” all appear multiple times. Some of the standouts on the first disc that show a growing propensity toward hardcore include “Be a Man (and Slam),” “Envy” and “Big Head,” though lighter fare like “Have Fun Or...” and the psychobilly parody “Cide-a-Billy” provide a nice change of pace. The first half ends with the You've Been Warned 7-inch, which is mostly an exercise in experimentalism with a much harder, thrashier style sandwiched between odd, eclectic intros.
By the time the second disc rolls around--which begins with the band’s contribution to the Sick But Slick compilation--the production has reached contemporary professional levels, which comes in handy on the Shinebox LP, featuring some of the band’s best work in tracks like “Lucky 13” and “Right.” Still, the band stays true to their commitment to unorthodoxy with ska tunes like “Follow the Leader” and the sound collage “Six Bullet Plan,” which utilizes a Miserlou-ish guitar lick.
The Dead Man Walking LP is a little homogeneous for its first half, except for “Twelve Steps,” in which Jones’ half-talking voice proclaims, “My shortcomings are out of sight--I’m blind!” There’s also a decent Negative Approach cover of “Tied Down” and the off-beat “Four Letter Word,” which serves as the token ska track for the album. “2 Cents,” which hears Jones shout “I find no strength in your educated guess / I’m emotionally unavailable, I don’t learn obedience well,” would have been a good way to end the record instead of closing with a rough, punctuated cover of R.E.M.’s “The One I Love.”
The final three tracks of the 1998 Demo display the band's foray into metal before ending with a cover of the Specials’ classic “Concrete Jungle,” which doesn't delve into its original ska form but rather sounds like a pub rock/Oi! take on the tune.
Since there is clearly a demographic of Yuppicide followers from throughout the years, this anthology will be a good starting and ending point for anyone with an interest in the band. Remastered by Don Fury and with full lyrics, art and narrative, this double-disc feature is an excellent way to collect the entire nine-release discography for the price of one while giving permanent archive to one of NYHC’s most out-of-place acts.