A round of post tennis with Brushback got me listening to Government Issue for the first time in years, and got me reminiscing about an influential shopping trip, many moons ago...
When I moved down to Arizona in 1989, I had a burgeoning interest in punk and hardcore, but absolutely no clue what was out there. My record collection, basically, consisted of Black Flag, the Dead Kennedys, Suicidal Tendencies, and Colorado's own Warlock Pinchers. Late-'80s Boulder wasn't a haven for the stuff, and being both shy and sheltered, I wasn't exactly getting out there and searching new stuff out -- if I had money for an album, I'd prefer to get something by a band I already knew (even "Live '84") rather than try something new. I'd never seen a copy of MRR -- I'd never even heard the Minutemen, never heard Minor Threat.
My last year in Colorado, a classmate named Ben gave me a mix tape -- pretty standard stuff, but it was the first hint of how much more was out there ... Nomeansno, the Spermbirds, JFA, forget what else... and Government Issue. It had a few songs off "The Fun Just Never Ends" -- "Bored to Death," "Mad at Myself," something else.
Anyway. Moved to Arizona, was introduced to Minor Threat, and found out that there was an entire record store (Toxic Ranch) devoted to punk -- something that blew my mind, and cemented Tucson's status as a teeming metropolis where anything was possible. Yeah, it sounds ridiculous now, but remember, sheltered. I couldn't drive at the time -- I was really late in getting around to getting my license, in some sort of weird rebellion against whatever I could rebel against -- and Toxic was a ways away from our suburban place, but finally, I got my Mom to drive me down, so I could blow some hard-earned cash.
I still remember everything I picked up that day -- the day that really cemented that there was music beyond the DKs and Flag (and down the line, led me to the financial ruin of record collecting, but that's another story):
* Minor Threat "Salad Days" 7" - by then, they were my new Black Flag, and that was the only thing I didn't own. The consensus seems to be that it's their weakest release, but it's always got a place in my heart.
* Fugazi "3 Songs" 7" - I expected it to sound just like Minor Threat, so as you can imagine, it took me a while to get into Fugazi.
* Operation Ivy "Energy" LP - later ruined for me by a ska-obsessed roommate, which makes me feel kinda bad -- I think I've unfairly dismissed them since, but back then, I loved this
* Youth of Today "Can't Close My Eyes" 12" (the Caroline pressing) - I was a bit nervous about this, because (seriously!) due to the shaved heads and everything, I wasn't sure that they weren't Nazi skinheads, which I'd heard about on 20/20 or something
* Government Issue "Strange Wine" 12" - I had to get something by GI, remembering that old mix tape. I still remember being befuddled by the selection -- they had just about everything -- but something about the cover, with the set list scrawled on Tom Lyle's t-shirt, looked really cool. It was more "mature" than "Bored to Death," which confused me a bit for a while, but down the line I really like this one. Features backing vocals by...
18 years or so later, I think the only one of these records I still physically own is the "Salad Days" 7" -- I sold "3 Songs" when I got "Repeater" on CD, sold Op IV because I got so goddamn sick of ska, Government Issue got ruined when I moved out here, probably eBayed YOT. But all these albums have a special spot in my heart -- as a nascent fan, I managed to pick up a selection and not get a stinker in the bunch. It could just have easily been Outspoken or Face Value leaping into my hot little hands that day, and then what would have become of me?