Ride 'em Cowboy

Emerging from Portland, Oregon, Poison Idea first saw the light of day in 1980. Taking their lead from Black Flag and The Germs they served up visceral hardcore punk before mellowing (ever so slightly) and bringing in more of a hard rock influence. Darby Crash Rides Again brings together early demos and out-takes along with a live set and is the first in a series of re-issues from their back catalogue. As such it does a faithful job of documenting their development but at times it's more interesting from a historical point of view than a musical one!

Not surprisingly, given that they were rough demos in the first place, many of the songs on offer here are poorly recorded and sound exactly as they were, this was a band finding it's feet and tipping the hat in no small way to Black Flag. As with a lot of US hardcore from the early 80s you have to put it in the context of when it was released to really appreciate it and to understand why bands like Poison Idea were cited as an influence by the likes of Nirvana. Walking into a small venue and encountering a fast and frantic band like Poison Idea must have been pretty mind blowing in the early 80s!

The longer songs (and by that I mean anything over three minutes!) always seem lacking and it's in the shorter, frenzied songs that Poison Idea make their mark. With some notable exceptions (Spy for example) the songs aren't really that catchy but they display an early promise and give a hint at what was to follow. Jerry A isn't the best vocalist in the world and whilst it's more than adequate for this material it is also rather one dimentional.

Let's not be too negative about this release though; the live songs are frantic, often messy and always raw! As a snapshot of Poison Idea back in the day it's really interesting and the grainy recording takes you right back in time to a mid 80s sweaty club night. The cover version of Motorhead is not bad at all... until the guitar solo, which is quite painful!

Are you going to listen to this frequently? Probably not, it's not exactly easy listening and the poor quality does grate after a while. It is however a welcome addition to the history of US hardcore and acts as a stepping stone to the next stage of their evolution.