Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Revelation Revisited #5: Side by Side

My most memorable moment regarding this record is an alarming one. In my mid-20s, not long before leaving Tucson, near blackout drunk and listening to this in my apartment at 4 a.m., weeping copiously over something -- uncertainty, romantic setback, I don't remember.

Just one stop in a confusing journey. I really disliked Side by Side when I first heard them (see also, in the near future, Bold and Chain of Strength) -- thought they were generic, and probably thought they had too much of the tough guy thing going on. Then in my early 20s -- once I'd started drinking, bear in mind -- I adopted them wholeheartedly. Side by Side was really carried by their singer, Jules, who had that overwhelming rage/sincerity that's tough to question. When he howls "You're only young once -- so don't fuck it up!" it's hard to contradict. I mean, he really cares. The best you're gonna be able to do is shrug and say "sorry, dude, I'll try." He also leads, I dunno, the world in use of the word "fuck," which makes it kind of funny that in the recent Double Cross interviews he's done, he emphatically avoids any swearing. I guess he used it up 20 years ago.

And how do I feel about this, 20 years on? Well, it's twofold. I shelled out for the full expanded album on iTunes (22 songs, 35 minutes), with demo tracks and live tracks added, and I'd say the extra tracks mostly show that Side By Side was tapped dry on the seven-song 7". Most of the bonus stuff is generic, poorly recorded, or both. But oh, those seven songs. Yeah, they still signify one of the high-water marks of early Rev stuff. "You're Only Young Once" still gets a fist-pump. Even something as simple as "Friends" gets a solemn and appreciative nod. I wouldn't have said this when I was 18, but now I recognize -- in the pure edge era of Revelation, SBS is a contender for the best thing they put out.

* * *

#14 -- "Endgame" by David Rohde

Another book that languished on my shelves for years, because it looked daunting and I figured I knew everything there was to know about Srebrenica. More fool me, as this should be the definitive take on that horrid story. Rohde has an even, restrained style, knowing he doesn't have to sensationalize to convey the horror. The hour-by-hour narration builds the tension to an unbearable point. I know a lot about the 1990s wars, and I still learned a lot here. The U.N. comes off looking poorly; Ratko Mladic comes across looking like even more of a monster than I had anticipated. I read all 400 pages with only necessary breaks. Highly recommended.


gsdgsd13 said...

Aaaaand less than 12 hours later Mladic is arrested. I will use my apparent mental powers only for good.

Brushback said...

Side By Side was when I started to sour at the whole cookie cutter aspect of the Youth Crew thing...

gsdgsd13 said...

Yeah, I can see how that would happen. In my case, I was kind of coming to it from the other direction -- having already heard the later Rev stuff, all the SoCal straight edge stuff, and when I finally got into it, it just seemed a lot rawer.