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Modern Warfare - Complete Recordings and More LP

Modern Warfare - Complete Recordings and More LP

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Modern Warfare were one of the unsung heroes of the early '80s So-Cal punk scene. Coming from Long Beach, playing fast n' furious punk from 1980-1983. This isn't by-the-numbers generic hardcore, it's well executed, manic speed punk with some of the best frantic guitar leads and vocals of the era. Side one collects both of their rare 7" EPs, along with their songs from classic compilation albums Hell Comes To Your House, American Youth Report and Life Is Boring So Why Not Steal This Record. This is the first time their complete vinyl output has been collected in one place. Side two compiles three melodic punk tracks from 1979 by pre-Modern Warfare band The Moderns. The side finishes with three later home demos from band-leader and Bemisbrain Records founder Jimmy Bemis. One peppy punk number, right in line with the Moderns and two rootsy songs that remind us of '80s L.A. wasteland rock that you might hear in an Alex Cox film.

We went over budget on this one to make sure we could put together the ultimate discography once and for all. All audio has been newly remastered by original, legendary producer Geza X. The LP comes with a foldout 12" x 36" double-sided poster insert with lyrics, illustrated discography, previously unpublished photos and a killer collection of gig posters. Free download code also included. Sample tracks can be heard at the audio player below.

Our take: Comprehensive retrospective from this early 80s California punk band, which fills out the picture you got from reissues of their two EPs with additional tracks from compilations and related bands. Now, just about everyone who got into punk before the dawn of the internet era probably has a story about a compilation that got them hooked on the genre and introduced them to the next level of bands beyond the obvious Sex Pistols, Clash, Dead Kennedys et al. For me, that compilation was American Youth Report; I remember ordering the comp from Epitaph’s mail-order (which was then called Anti-, which would lend its name to the adult contemporary rock label that Epitaph still runs) because it had the Adolescents on it and I had read an interview with Bad Religion where they cited the Adolescents as the primary influence on their sound. Not only does the Adolescents track on that compilation rip (“Losing Battle”), but it also introduced me to so many great bands… Redd Kross, Legal Weapon, the Flesh Eaters, Rhino 39, the Descendents (I’m pretty sure this is the first time I heard them!), T.S.O.L., the Minutemen, and many more. Looking back on that compilation it’s kind of uncanny how much it has shaped my tastes, and the whole thing kicks off with Modern Warfare’s great “One for All.” In a lot of ways that track is the perfect summation of why I like Modern Warfare so much… they stand right on the border between punk and hardcore, when punk rock reached its maximum level of intensity but the rigid formal codification of the genre that happened with the advent of hardcore hadn’t yet occurred. I guess that’s a fancy way of saying that Modern Warfare sound, alternately, like a hardcore band with great melodies and more ambitious songwriting and arrangements, or a punk band that plays with the intensity and aggression of a hardcore band. They’re really one of the great unsung bands of the era in my opinion, and it’s great to have all of their material in one place. Speaking of which, I can’t imagine how this LP could have been executed any better. First of all, it’s a comprehensive collection of tracks, bringing together the band’s two 7”s and the four exclusive tracks they contributed to compilations. The complete Modern Warfare discography comprises the A-side of this release, but on the b-side you also get the three studio tracks recorded by pre-Modern Warfare band The Moderns (these tracks were also released as a 7” on Feral Kid / Ut Records in 2014, and they’re killer… like Modern Warfare but slightly more power-pop/’77 punk… it reminds me of the Pointed Sticks’ best material) and three tracks recorded by MW singer/guitarist Jimmy Bemis in 2005 (I’m not really clear on why these were included… they’re fine songs but they lack both the powerful ensemble playing and the vintage production of the other material on the LP). The packaging here is also perfect, bringing together cool cover art (a striking mash-up the covers of the band’s two EPs) and a huge insert that is chock-full of information, including reproductions of all of the artwork for the records, discographical information, and a ton of amazing-looking vintage flyers and photos. Basically, this is the Modern Warfare record that I have always wanted in my collection, and if you’re deep into early 80s SoCal punk you absolutely need this as well.