Friday, May 21, 2010

Join the Army

Standing in line with the rest of the street scum at the soup kitchen. Panhandling money for booze and drugs. Acts of senseless violence. Urban Assault came out of the side of San Francisco punk rock that was more concerned with that sort of stuff than saving the world and telling people how to live. They expressed a snarling unfocused sense of rage via metal-tinged hardcore that Fowl Records saw fit to release as a seven-inch in 1982. Later on, Urban Assault contributed the song “Night on the Town” to Mystic’s We Got Power compilation. They may be relatively obscure now, but there are definitely some stories behind this band. For instance, old school punks may remember the infamous Exploited show in LA back in the mid ‘80s. During “Fuck the USA,” the pro-American members of Urban Assault stormed the stage after tossing a cup full of piss in Wattie’s face, causing a riot to ensue.

The song that might raise the most eyebrows on this record is “Join the Army” with its use of the dreaded N-word (“Join the army, be a man. Fight for Exxon until you die. Be a Nazi, join the Klan. Kill a nigger, don’t ask why…”), although the lyrics in their entirety appear to be more about criticizing the need to conform to select groups. Interesting to note, because Urban Assault vocalist Marc Dagger later co-founded the notorious SF Skins, one of a couple skinhead gangs who terrorized punk shows during the mid ‘80s. Immortalized in print in William T. Vollman’s The Rainbow Stories, these skins were no joke. This gang of vicious drunken brawlers actually got the attention of Peter Jennings due to their acts of violence in San Francisco’s Haight district. Dagger went on to gain quite the reputation amongst various skinhead circles. But these days, he’s apparently living the quieter life, choosing to raise a family instead of running the streets.

But before he became MRR’s worst nightmare, he was a crazy punk rocker running wild in the Tenderloin streets long before hipsters decided that it was a cool place to live. And that’s what this record is all about in the end. File it next to your copy of the Fuck Ups’ FU82 EP.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, I remember this song from another compilation. If memory serves me right, "Join the Army" was also on the "Not so quiet on the Western Front". However, after reading this I realized that record was supposed to be for *southern* California and Nevada.