Tuesday, February 1, 2011

V/A The New Hope (reissue)

My father was from a Cleveland suburb, so there were many trips to visit the Grandparents. I remember sunny days in the summer, and tons of Lake Erie snow-belt produced snow in the winter. And I remember being really excited about being able to tune in WMMS, the proto-classic-rock (because it wasn't quite 'classic' yet, it was current) FM radio station. But I also remember sometimes we would visit this guy on the East Side who rented his upstairs apartment to my parents before they had kids. Their old place was in a nondescript residential neighborhood, not like super-urban downtown Cleveland or anything, but it seemed to me that whenever we went there, it was always  drizzling, dim and depressing. This is pretty much the historical and emotional context I put this compilation into. Like the bands on this record were all comprised of kids from the gloomy neighborhoods, somewhere between the inner-city and the suburbs, of Cleveland, OH.
And it's funny that WMMS, a station that was so instrumental in promoting glam and arena rock bands from England and other parts of the US, was so blatantly scornful of local music. They occasionally played a token Cleveland band (Michael Stanley Band), but during this same time period (late 70Ss/early 80s) they were overlooking bands like Rocket From The Tombs (who would splinter into Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys), the Pagans, Electric Eels, X-X, etc, who were busy creating the Cleveland legacy most of us know today. And while none of the aforementioned bands are on this reissued 1983 comp, I think some of their influence shows up. 'The New Hope' could be considered a representation of the Silver Age, or second generation, of Cleveland punk.
Anyway, since one of the participants on this comp (Tom Miller from Agitated and the Offbeats) mentioned in the press release that when they made 'The New Hope' they were emulating (perhaps a little too hard) comps like the DC area collection 'Flex Your Head', I feel compelled to mention some comparisons between these records. First off, the driving force behind 'The New Hope', the Ian MacKaye if you will, was one Tom Eakin (aka Tommy Dark) and his band (the Dark) was on the comp (ala Minor Threat). Furthermore, Tommy's brother's band The Guns were included, as with Ian's brother Alec's band The Untouchables. Both comps feature a pompously named, politically over earnest band that also had a song of that name (Artificial Peace from DC and Positive Violence from OH). Positive Violence's theme song didn't appear on the original release, but it's included in the expanded material on this reissue. There's also a cerebral, sarcastic, scene critical, slightly poppy band on each comp; Government Issue on 'Flex Your Head' and The Offbeats from 'The New Hope'. And then there are the rest of the bands on each record, many of whom were just sort of going through the hardcore motions. But this reissue is totally worth it for the gems that are on it, and for the bonus content, all of which adds to a clearer picture of early 80s US hardcore punk than the coastal gatekeepers have been presenting.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Chris, read the liner notes written by the person who actually had the idea and put out The New Hope compilation, Tom Dark:

    By 1982 Northeast Ohio had a scene, yet I wondered why everyone else had a great comp album out except us, so the idea to put together "The New Hope" came about.

    He certainly was not `emulating' the Flex Your Head comp, though Tom Miller's `poppy' band The Offbeats may have been. Even the American Hardcore book's second edition has corrected the omission of the bands in Clevo and credited Tom with being the person who got the scene's music on record. Also, your equating your parents' `gloomy, East Side apartment' with all the neighborhoods of the kids who were in the bands in the Clevo punk, scene is just flat wrong'em, boyo - unless you consider Shaker Heights, Mentor, Cuyahoga Falls and Lorain, Ohio to be ``the gloomy neighborhoods, somewhere between the inner-city and the suburbs, of Cleveland, OH.'' The New Hope kids did not happen to live where the (much older) Dead Boys, Pere Ubu, Pagans and Electric Eels lived.