December 27th, 2009 by MRR
To coincide with the 25th anniversary reissue of Maximum Rocknroll Presents: Welcome to 1984 on vinyl, we asked our resident ’80s hardcore expert Felix Von Havoc to write a little something about this legendary comp…
It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been 25 years since this LP was originally released. Yet here I am at 40, still super excited about a record which blew me away at age 15. 1984 was a sinister and prophetic year for a generation that grew up in the shadow of the Cold War and was weaned on the dystopian visions of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley. Jeff Bale’s original liner notes point out the role of the elite in manipulating public opinion, and suppressing dissent is often manifested in the ideological and psychological sphere, rather than by brute force. Fast forward 25 years and we can see that Orwell’s vision of a futuristic Stalinist police state was crude, but his warning about the manipulation of thought and twisting of the truth was remarkably prescient.
The original punk movement of the late ’70s was shocking, loud, obnoxious and a break from the conformist malaise of that decade. As the bleak economic realities of the ’80s dawned, the radical right and corporate interests launched the Thatcher/Reagan “Capitalist Revolution” that was to result in great economic and social dislocation. As society swung to the right and embraced more conservative views, the slightly absurd and theatrical elements of ’70s punk were jettisoned for music of pure protest, energy and outrage: Hardcore! Maximum Rock n Roll was the international voice of this new movement, one that embraced radical social change and fast, powerful blasts of raw thrashing punk that made the bands of the ’70s seem tame and restrained.
It’s long been my opinion the Welcome to 1984 is the best compilation LP of all time. While it lacks the regional focus of runners up such as Flex Your Head or This Is Boston, Not LA, it documents not a local scene, but a worldwide movement. This movement was spreading, a virus of resistance to the conformity of the era that has continued to spread to the corners of the globe. The bands and songs selected by the MRR staff gave an impressive overview of this new and radical movement. 23 bands from 17 countries, this diverse assemblage all shared a power and urgency that truly captured the spirit of the times and the energy of the movement. When I bought this record at age 15 I was barely aware of punk outside my hometown and the UK. Reading MRR and blasting this record over and over opened up my eyes to the international hardcore movement and exposed me to many bands that have become life long favorites. There are some truly epic moments on this record, the bass intro to BGK’s “Computer Control,” the sing-along chorus of Kidnap’s “No SS,” and most importantly, the raw screams of Raw Power’s anthem “Fuck Authority.” When I first heard this record I knew I had found what I was looking for.
As the Cold War ended and the War on Terror began, the elite found a rationale to extend their manipulation of public opinion and ideological control. While the hardcore subculture has endured, and spread, many complain that it has lost much of the energy and urgency of the early days. A spin of this record is a shot of this energy, pure and unadulterated.
—Felix Von Havoc, December 2009