Review Summary: Reagan Youth's collective library, showcasing both hardcore punk and heavy metal.
Reagan Youth were a definitive part of New York’s hardcore scene. They had frequent gigs at CBGBs, gaining much notoriety for their brand of music. In a ten year run, the band only released one official album that was divided into two volumes, and later combined into “A Collection of Pop Classics“. However, They were also plagued with tragedy. Vocalist Dave Rubenstein became heavily involved with drugs after the bands departure, and was nearly beaten to death in a deal gone wrong. Soon after, his mother died in a car accident and his girlfriend, who worked as a prostitute was murdered by infamous serial killer Joel Rifkin. In 1993 Dave committed suicide.
There isn’t much to the genre of classic hardcore punk. Either you like raw, aggressive, fast music or you don’t. While many bands at that time had a fresh off the conveyer belt sound, people noticed RY more because of their “peace punk” persona and the more complex guitar work heard in their songs. Judging the band by it’s title would suggest that they’re a highly political group who preach hate towards the system and disregard musical capability and song craftsmanship. RY shatter the mold with really memorable songs that are powerful and moving, without being poppy and light. Not one song seems mapped out, they flow like it was just another unbridled jam session.
You might’ve heard Degenerated
covered at the end of the movie "Airheads" (It’s the song the Lone Rangers perform while in prison). It’s a pretty powerful song that captures the ignorant rebelliousness of youth. Get The Ruler Out
packs some blistering axe power and an anthemic chorus.
Jesus Was A Communist
has this guitar riff that just sounds like its growing and its freed with soloing in between one repeated chorus that express’s the point in few words. Urban savages
comes in with every drum and a rolling rhythm that launches it into a standard fast tempo. The percussion really shines hear, along with nothing but lead guitar just f’ucking with every conceivable chord progression.
starts with them talking like drunk rednecks then leads to just drums and a very simple riff. Brave New World
is less punk, more rock n’roll. The bass is turned up playing an almost tribal rhythm that sets up the emotional vocals and atmospheric ring outs on the guitar.
is the fastest and loudest song on the album, with punchier distortion and unpolished vocals that are delivered as a yell. Acid Rain
uses more effects, both with the singing and the guitar.
The first half of ACOPC burns through one two minute punk song after another. Just when you’ve had your fill of Reagan Youth, the album changes to some slow bluesy metal ballads.
What Will The Neighbors Think
is satire regarding suburban life and white collar scandal. The verses slowly trudge along and detonate with the masterful chorus.
Back to the Garden
is a weird track with no vocals that starts with birds chirping and includes backwards guitar track with a forward one over it. Eventually it reverts to a instrumental of melting metal .
is as epic as it’s name. It’s untouchable melody is the most powerful on the album. The way the vocals are drawn out at the end of every line and the second half of the song is just an instrumental journey into the talented minds of Reagan Youth. In the same vein, One Holy Bible
has a large scale sound and a strong impact.
If I could have a twenty five second audio sample play out of my face every time I entered a room it would be the intro to Heavy Metal Shuffle
. The mean distortion of the rhythm guitar is like a vicious pit-bull protecting it’s lead guitar show dog side kick. It’s a Beautiful Day
starts with soft relaxing music and lyrics about a peaceful barbecue, but once those first bombs start droppin’, it becomes angry, full throttle punk rock rage.
The slower and more progressive songs hint at how Reagan Youth could’ve evolved into such an amazing band. They were of the greatest political minded groups of the time, but they also possessed a great deal of untapped talent and creativity. “A Collection of Pop Classics” shows both sides of a great band.