Friday, August 14, 2009

We Don't Care What You Say, We're Gonna Mosh It Up Today

I came across this random quote from someone while Googling for amusing Murphy’s Law info to share: “No matter if you’re a skinhead, a hardcore kid, a ska fan, or a drunken glue sniffer, you don’t know how to party if you don’t know Murphy’s Law.” And you know, I think those sentiments sum up this seminal New York hardcore band nicely. You can cite Municipal Waste as hardcore’s ultimate party band if you want to, but the fact remains that Murphy’s Law partied hard long before the Waste picked up their first beer. And they continue to do so today, whether anyone outside of the NYHC scene realizes it or not. In fact, they completed a European tour last month.

Murphy’s Law had been something of a staple in the NYHC scene for several years when they followed up on the live Bong Blast demo with their self-titled vinyl debut on Rock Hotel, a subsidiary of Profile. (Yes, THAT Profile…the rap label who released Run DMC and Rob Base, among others back in the day.) Philosophically, the album bridges the first two generations of the NYHC scene. Somewhat capturing the first era’s dirty drug/booze-addled lifestyle, tunes like “Sit Home and Rot,” “Beer,” and “Crucial Bar-B-Q” don’t exactly suggest that this is a band known for taking hard and fast political stances. On the other hand, “California Pipeline” was one song that invited criticism from various punk observers due to its ridiculous lyrics. Although it was hard to take the lyrics extolling then-president Ronald Reagan and lines like “I’m a rad Republican, I’m proud to be an American” seriously, NYHC had been undergoing its shift towards the more violent, right-wing mentality that the scene’s second generation is known for. Murphy’s Law was at the helm of this transition, along with fellow stalwarts Agnostic Front, the Cro-Mags, and Cause for Alarm. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and it’s obvious that these bands were less guilty of being Amerikkka’s leaders of the Fourth Reich than they were of expressing ideas that had yet to fully form. Youthful indiscretion, if you will.

Despite the controversy in the punk media, Murphy’s Law managed to secure the opening slot on the infamous Licensed to Ill tour with the Beastie Boys and Fishbone. I can only imagine those shows being quite the spectacle. For better or worse, Murphy’s Law and their good-time anthems introduced slam dancing and stagediving to the arenas of mainstream America. But problems with Rock Hotel and label owner Chris Williamson prevented the band from capitalizing on the opportunities. Although it’s safe to say that Murphy’s Law probably won’t get another crack at fame like they did in the late ‘80s, they’ve never given up. Vocalist Jimmy Gestapo has kept the band alive, weathering the lineup changes and label problems, and continuing to release records and tour the independent circuit to this day.

The Evil Eye is the American Trash Culture advocate, and we are concerned that our citizens don’t have the same access to the first Murphy’s Law album that they used to. When it comes to “party records”—aka records that rarely turn up in good condition—vinyl copies of this album rank alongside Fang’s Landshark and originals of the first Wasted Youth and Verbal Abuse 12-inches. The Murphy’s Law/Back with a Bong CD reissue was once a staple of used bins everywhere, but we fear that this may not be the case in 2009. We at The Evil Eye feel that our fellow Americans deserve better, so enjoy this week’s offering of the first Murphy’s Law album. It's still summertime, and this is the perfect soundtrack to lots of herb and a keg of brew at your own crucial barbecue.
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