Noise Not Music 3xLP box set
F.O.A.D. has a reputation for doing great retrospective releases with lavish packaging and lots of unreleased material. They pulled out all the stops for this most important of bands: three LPs, a bonus 7″, a hardbound book (in the size and shape of an LP, to fit in the box) and a poster. The first live LP features a shockingly good audience recording of a 1980 London gig. This was previously bootlegged as the First Ever London Show LP but this version sounds cleaner and captures the band’s early fire and energy. I really enjoyed this recording as it’s all the early 7″ material, played with great verve and gusto. You can tell these guys are young and fired up with a new sound and message. A rare documentation of music history in the making. The second LP is a soundboard recording from Detroit from 1982. I don’t think this recording has surfaced before, except perhaps among tape traders. The third live LP is a soundboard recording from the 100 Club from 1983 and features more of the Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing-era material. It captures the band’s progression into a more metallic realm, but still comes across as pure hardcore, just with the added high-pitched scream or lead here and there. The highlight of this release, though, is the book. There are lots of flyers, photos and press clippings, many never before seen. Rich “Militia” Walker does an entertaining job of retelling how much DISCHARGE was reviled by the music press while at the same time inspiring a diehard following of devoted fans. He is pretty fair and balanced, is in a good position to measure the band’s worldwide impact on music, and I think he was a good choice to handle this important task. The DISCHARGE story related here ends abruptly in 1983 with Price of Silence. Notably omitted is the second US tour with BATTALION OF SAINTS; however, some flyers from those gigs are featured and one of the live LPs is from this era. Not told is the story of DISCHARGE’s later years and the third US tour, perhaps for the better. Absent from the proceedings is Cal, so we don’t get his voice on the early days or the band’s message. But this doesn’t detract too much from the overall package—and what a package it is. We may take a moment to contrast the lavish nature of a triple-LP box set and hardbound book to the raw and urgent 7″ singles of the early days. I do enjoy F.O.A.D.’s deluxe reissues and the care that goes into them. At times it seems far from the roots of hardcore, but as diehard fan, I appreciate the attention to quality and detail. Is this release essential? No. Is it a rare treat for diehard DISCHARGE fans? Yes. If it’s in your budget and you love DISCHARGE, it’s certainly worth picking up for the book and graphics alone, even if you don’t care for live albums.