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ARTICLES OF FAITH- What we want is free 7″EP (Version Sound, USA, 1982)

There were times in my life, when I had an almost erotic relationship with ARTICLES OF FAITH. To me, this band represented everything that Hardcore should be (or could be), when I first heard the colossal “Wait” EP and the epochal “Give Thanks” LP.  Sometimes, I make it seem too easy, methinks, when pointing out how close to each other the NWOBHM (& the Metal it span off) and the Punk & Hardcore movements were. Sure, there are many overlapping aspects, but when you stretch out the extremes of both “worlds”, you will also see what separated them. This EP here is one of these markers, at least as far as the music goes.
But then again, how could you lump AOF together with a band like NEGATIVE APPROACH? On the one hand, you have intellectuals with music instruments (and the capacity to use them and create many different patterns of emotionality), on the other, you have a bunch of hooligans, stiff on their instruments, one-dimensional and, frankly, a bit daft in demeanor and expression. Yet they both breath the same air and produced some of the most impressive music of the 20th century.

Catchy, yet powerful music like no other band would play it, that’s what ARTICLES OF FAITH pulled off on their first EP already, with lyrics of an often literarily quality. And a sense of urgency that will forever drop my jaw. “This is it”, I thought back then and whenever I put up any of their records over a quarter of a century later (with, maybe the exception of the final album), I immediately find myself catapulted back in an emotional state which no other form of music (speaking of Metal here) could ever have for me. To tell the truth, I’m sometimes worried that with every year passing, I might lose more of the energy it takes to expose myself to the intensity, the barrage of a band like ARTICLES OF FAITH. This is music for the youth, not for old people. “What we want is free” was yesterday – what we want now has a price tag on it, mostly, and I don’t even care about that anymore.
The moments of intensity are the manifest physical experience of the retro-thesis: Hardcore was a movement of short endurance. Everything that followed was and is the futile attempt of recreating the social and aesthetical impact it had. It wasn’t “capitalism” or the media industry that killed it, as I too used to think. It never was outside these segments of reality, it just pretended it was, as every form of youthful rebellion lives from that illusion and creates momentum from it.
«I suppose», Vic Bondi wrote in 1991, «the new interest in early American Hardcore is a sign that the ethos of Hardcore is making a comeback; that the human message at the center of Hardcore is making a comeback, that the human message at the center of Hardcore will find a new, unique voice, a new viability. I hope so. Because, if not, if the interest in this music is nothing more than nostalgia, nothing more than a sentimental embrace of youth, than Hardcore is truly an artifact, and nothing more than another style of music with which to kill time. – My faith is to the contrary.» (printed on the insert of the “Core” LP). It’s crazy to think that 20 years have passed by since Vic wrote these lines. Where are we now?

Everyday.mp3
My Father’s Dreams.mp3
Bad Attitude.mp3
What we want is free.mp3

15 Comments

  1. Jan

    Aptly analysis, Erich! Apart from the great music you’re posting here, I always enjoy reading your texts. Bright thoughts and interesting views, often very inspiring. Thanks for the work you’re putting in this blog! Citizens Arrest is a blast and with the recent AOF posting you made my day (once again).

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    Posted on 21-Nov-10 at 17:36 | Permalink
  2. Jay Thurston

    YOu know, Erich, this doesn’t sound as bad as I remembered…thanks. Now, I want it back!

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    Posted on 21-Nov-10 at 17:43 | Permalink
  3. Javi

    A fucking Godsend, that is.
    Every time I listen to “Everyday” or “Bad Attitude”, I get goosebumps; I get that was the aim of what’s been dubbed “Emotional Hardcore” in the first place, ain’t it?
    I’ve got that Bitzcore compilation, “Core”, and having these superb songs scattered among other lesser tracks kinda dilutes the top-notch fist-pumping experience. This 7 inch is one of the greats, from the first to the last song. Thanks again, Erich.

    On a note aside, and I think I might be one of the few to say this, I reckon AOF’s formula of emotional, heartfelt Hardcore Punk was perfected on the ambitious “In this Life”. To me, “Give Thanks” sounds at times sorta standard Hardcore (with AOF’s own touch, of course), whereas the last one is one of those LPs which don’t easily fit into a specific category.

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    Admin Reply:

    I have to give “In this Life” another listen. I’ve heard it from a lot of different people, that they think its the band’s ultimate effort.

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    Merinas van der Lubb Reply:

    You guys think too much. Articles of Faith is The Real Stuff.

    I measure it all against standing in front of the stage in front of Poison Idea. If it feels like that, it’s The Real Stuff.

    Nowadays, Hank III is The Real Stuff.
    Go find “White Trash Part II” on the web.

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    Posted on 21-Nov-10 at 18:14 | Permalink
  4. Adamski

    Great, of course. Gotta say though that “In This Life” is not that brilliant. It has its moments of course, but it just doesn’t compare to their earlier stuff, like the amazing “Give Thanks”.

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    Posted on 22-Nov-10 at 11:12 | Permalink
  5. Javi

    After writing on this blog yesterday, I gave another spin to the “In this Life” LP and, well, while it may lack the full throttle punch of “Give Thanks” or the “Wait” EP, I still stand by my opinion, simply because I find the songs in their swan song more memorable; the fast songs (“Around in circles”, “Wait for Me”, “Remain in Memory”) are in the same AOF-league of excellence as any of the others in their previous records, and the slower ones are just great.
    I guess that by 1984/85 some former HC outfits got intrigued by the College Rock sounds of, say, R.E.M./ U2 (in the same way the Boston bands were won over by Hard Rock and Metal), and in that record, you can tell that effect in some details: the multi-layered acoustic and arpeggiated guitars, the guitar effects, the somber and melancholic vocals (some might say “self-important”, but I do not), etc.
    Anyway the results were not as mediocre as in other cases (Youth Brigade, 7 Seconds); I’d put that AOF record in the same category of Hüsker Dü-meets-College-Rock- post HC school category of, say, the Moving Targets or Squirrel Bait.
    There’s no accounting for taste, and that’s for sure, but I still regard “In this Life” as a great record.

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    Posted on 22-Nov-10 at 15:39 | Permalink
  6. Smitty

    Love the NA and AOF comparison. Took me years to fully appreciate the greatness of AOF. Dunno why, guess I’m just stupid sometimes. Best use of Telecasters in hardcore.

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    Posted on 22-Nov-10 at 16:08 | Permalink
  7. Chase

    Thanks for the post. Articles of Faith have always been one of my favorite bands of the 80s. And this, along with the Wait 7″ are my favorite releases by them (probably cause I’ve never heard any of their later material, but eventually I will). Well, I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now and thought it was time for me to thank you for all the great music you take the time to post.

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    Admin Reply:

    Thank you, Chase. Always lovely to get some kind of feedback.

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    Posted on 22-Nov-10 at 16:35 | Permalink
  8. I dunno about A.O.F. – I’ll admit that “Give Thanks” is a pretty great record, and overlooked even in its time (a bunch of zine writers and scene people were still saying about “Give Thanks” in the late ’80s/early ’90s, “wow, here’s a great record that I’ve never even heard of before”).

    But, you know, there’s that story (which was reiterated in the “You Weren’t There” documentary) about how Vic/A.O.F. started out as a sort of wimpy college rock type guy (sorta the same place he ended up, I guess) and then suddenly latched onto hardcore when it became more “popular” into becoming this super-political, radical “we mean it, man” type guy… I mean, we all have our epiphanies, but it always seemed kinda like a set-up to me.

    As if A.O.F. were just some phony college student’s term paper on hardcore, and they didn’t really mean it, they were just going through the motions to get a good grade. When I read A.O.F.’s lyrics, they’re like a wanna-be poet’s — the words are chosen well, but the subject matter doesn’t seem to have any particular insight.

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    Dewey Decimal Reply:

    But the music speaks for itself. No way they could fake that. As for the nostalgia debate, as I turn 45 next month, I’ve stopped trying to figure out why I’ve been listening to the same records for 30 years and just accepted that I’ll never move beyond it. The music DOES sound different to me in 2010 of course, but it still speaks to me in a way that no other music ever will.

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    Javi Reply:

    ABSOLUTELY

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    FranFurt Reply:

    You put the words to my thoughts, despite i’m few years younger.

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    blake Reply:

    RE: You Weren’t There – Joe Losurdo – http://www.roctober.com/roctober/sellout.html. Found this some time ago, always left me with a weird feeling. Granted, I surely wasn’t there. Take of it what you will.

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    howardx Reply:

    “On the outside I wanted to be Minor Threat, on the inside I wanted to be KISS”

    and thats what happened to hardcore…

    [Reply]

    Posted on 22-Nov-10 at 17:33 | Permalink
  9. Thomas

    AOF? I always liked the fact that Bob Mould produced ‘In this life’ and makes it sound like no other record of the day. It sounds like REM doing a hardcore record.. Off topic: Erich I would like to mail you a link to a song I heard supposedly from 1973..; how do I do this?

    [Reply]

    Admin Reply:

    Send it to erich at gbm. Thanks!

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    justin Reply:

    Erich has too many toy Thomas, share the link with all the kids on the playground. :-D …just curious.

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    Thomas Reply:

    Just came across this yesterday http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48tmaTbhudQ and i was ‘flabbergasted’ about the intro which could be any hardcore record circa 1981.. considering it’s from an entirely different time.

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    justin Reply:

    Thanx Thomas, someone had posted that randomly at KBD as well, and then I posted it too (not a leader, a follower). Out-fucking-standing shit though, would love to hear the b-side.

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    Posted on 26-Nov-10 at 12:09 | Permalink
  10. Pppperfect. I took a listen to the newly released AOF stuff and though they should get credit for trying to evolve their sound it was a bit sad to listen to.

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    Posted on 29-Nov-10 at 10:27 | Permalink
  11. eddie

    ERICH, did u know that AOF got back together and have been rehearsing? I saw a session video of them on FACEBOOK and they play amazingly fast, I mean faster than they’ve ever played!

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    Posted on 30-Nov-10 at 02:06 | Permalink
  12. eddie

    As I was saying, AOF has a new record out and it doesn’t disappoint one bit!

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    Posted on 02-Dec-10 at 05:06 | Permalink
  13. hörst

    great stuff indeed; I was a total metalkid at the time, and this made me think of how about all the metal musicians i knew at the time wanted to be “professional” more than anything at the time; a guy I knew was in a band which actually got to record an album for one of those typical german rip-off-the kids-labels at the time, and they hooked them up with a “real” producer who made him drum along to a metronome, and they were deeply impressed by how “professional” this was; compare that attitude to AOF! Taht whole “we´re professional musicians now, cause we are paying a manager”stuff, I could go on for days..

    [Reply]

    Admin Reply:

    Please do go on!

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    hörsth Reply:

    I think I was trying to make two points at once here: poseurs usually suck, at least in person, and the whole music industry consists of a bunch of fucked-up older guys trying to rip off impressionable young kids.. hardly new, but still…anyway, its kind of hard to find good examples for both points at once. The Band mentioned above was called “Invader” and never went anywhere; One of its successors spend a four- digit sum on some press-presentation folder before breaking up apparently about the singer coming out of the closet and diving headfirst into the local gay scene (might just have been a rumour though, his homosexuality being the reason that is; small towns!). They hardly played anywhere and were on a local radio show once where they spent more time talking about their folder than about their music (which sucked) .

    The worst example for the second point was probably a guy I oncemet who was in a Wanna-be boy group; They were from an eastern suburb of Berlin 15 to 16 years old , and trying to do some Depeche-mode stuff when MCA picked them up and proposed to turn them into a boygroup; when I met the guy (nice Chap, by the way), they were called “Strong Together” and had spent two years taking dancing classes, singing classes and whatnot ; they had spent months in a big studio to produce an album which (to me )sounded like anything else on the radio and were actually convinced that this was their own music (I´d like to meet the producer ) lately they had gone to Hamburg to do a (horrible) video which had cost 80000 DM, the Budget including bringing in an american actor who then had to walk from left to right with a beer in hand two times. I was trying to tell him: “Hey, that might have been your money” and he was just like:”I have been to Hamburg, now that was great” They made an appearance on a major german television show (der grosse Preis) where they were so excited that they started to stutter, and since then noone has heard of them…

    [Reply]

    Admin Reply:

    Wow, great input – thanks much! Yeah, the forces of the music industry seem to be of an astounding vehemence sometimes. I’ve seen so many get sucked up by it, though not always to the extent you’ve described. — Or, is it realy like that? When I recently made a rather harmless joke about how funny I find that Napalm Death (ND 3.0, actually – waht’s left of the band, that is) call themselves “enemies of the music industry”, while being an integral part of it – I got “defriended” by Dig / Earchache on facebook within minutes.

    It’s part of the mythology that “the industry” is the conglomerate of some major labels and their devilish financial forces. Fact is: We’re all part of it.

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    hörsth Reply:

    just to clarify: the singer of the fist-mentioned band was a nice guy too, cant say a bad thing about him, except that he loved dressing up way too much for our tastes; he´d even dress up just to put up posters (He´d dress as a blue collar worker then, as opposed to his usual leopard leggings)

    [Reply]

    Posted on 02-Dec-10 at 19:09 | Permalink
  14. ********

    AOF’s definitely one of those great under-rated hardcore band’s. Funny but, true story. I have a close friend who’s good friend’s with one of the original guitarist’s… and to which I’d occasionally see from time to time, never knowing his true background with this band. In part because i had never researched the band’s line-up other than recording them unmarked off college radio way back before the advent of the internet.

    My friend, being the low key modest type, never bothered to relay this fact. Of course, my un-inquisitive self didn’t help matters either. Thanks to the internet, I accidentally able to connected the dots not long ago – as sorryass as that sounds.

    Anyway, enough of my generic esoteric anecdotes; picking up on what alluded too in a previous reply, enjoy some fresh AOF, circa 2010!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4gjg9Hud3I

    [Reply]

    Posted on 03-Dec-10 at 09:09 | Permalink
  15. Hirsinger Youth

    A bit off topic/post: Belonging to a younger genearation I can somehow relate to parts of Bondi’s statement in the Bitzcore “Core” LP/CD. A very strange counterexample is Keith Morris’ Off!. I really loved the end scene of American Hardcore (“you can stop doing it now”) and now he just plays in a band that is doing the same sound he’s been doing for 30 years now. Maybe I don’t get it, maybe it’s just about having fun playing music – but Hartmut Engler might have fun doing Pur too.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 15-Jan-11 at 22:45 | Permalink

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