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D.R.I.- Dirty rotten EP 7″EP (Dirty Rotten Records, USA, 1983)

DRI_frontDRI_backDRI_innerDRI_vinyl1DRI_vinyl2It starts off with two snare beats – and then all hell breaks loose. Still makes me run shivers down my spine when “Sad to be” starts off on D.R.I.’s monstrous debut EP from 1983. And what a masterstroke to introduce a record full of short, fast songs with the longest and the one with the slowest middle part.

You all have heard this EP before because it’s been reissued so many times. I really wonder how many copies were sold of this all in all – must be quite a figure, I reckon. It’s pretty easy to see why this EP is so popular: It’s revolutionary. It doesn’t have the musical quality of POISON IDEA’s “Pick your King” EP, it’s not as emotionally diverse as URBAN WASTE, not as macho as NEGATIVE APPROACH or S.O.A.. It’s just pure teenangst, frustration, aggression and juvenile power. The music is reduced to the maximum, stripped down, until it’s almost naked. You have a manic singer, a high speed drummer and a distorted guitar all over. Period. It doesn’t need more. Niels once described the Poison Idea debut as a “Hardcore opera”, making it impossible to change the song order or anything about it. That’s the same here: You can’t just break out one song out of the structure. This EP is one entity, one solid chunk. How could you say this or that was the best song? Sure, sometimes I think “Blockhead” is the best, then again it’s “Who am I?” and so it goes on and on. For almost 18 minutes and that’s another detail that makes this EP a piece of art, if you want: D.R.I. just pushed everything up to the limit. They packed so many songs on a 7″ that the sound level got so low, you’d have to really crank up the volume on your stereo to even hear what’s going on. They tested the technical limits of the medium.

My first encounter with D.R.I. was when one of the “roadies” of HELLHAMMER (they never played live, you know, so being a roadie for Hellhammer must have been a rather easy job) passed a tape onto me. “Texas Punk” it simply said on a sticker attached to the cassette and the c-90 tape contained the likes of D.R.I., MDC, THE DICKS, REALLY RED and BIG BOYS. I remember that I first didn’t like it. What was that noise?! How could these bands dare and make my heroes VENOM, METALLICA, HELLHAMMER or SLAYER sound like the Mary Poppins soundtrack in terms of speed and aggression? Nah, not for me, I thought – only to buy the “Dirty Rotten EP” as soon as I could find it in my local record shop. That must have been in late 84 or early 85 and it was the 12″ version. I didn’t know until a few years later that this EP was originally released as a 7″.
Impossible to say how many times I heard this EP. It used to mean so much to me, it’s pathetic. For every problem in the world (or in my world), there was a D.R.I. song. How many kilometers have I passed with my walkman headphones on while this EP was blasting through my empty head? Somewhen in the 90s, when I became a die hard Marxist for a couple of years months weeks hours, it made me laugh out loud when I heard “Capitalists suck” – as if capitalists were the ones who’d buy goods all day long. And now, in 2009, I play this EP maybe four or five times a year. But it doesn’t really matter because whether I play it or not, it’s always there, as corny as it sounds.

One last thing: Have you seen this copy here? Despite the high price, judging by the label shown, I think this must be a bootleg. Or were there, which I doubt, two pressings? Anybody knows more?

Download the Dirty Rotten EP here.

PS: You can & should get the official re-release from Beercity Records. After the CD version, the label will release it in its original 7″ format in 2010. Don’t miss this!