Released a few months ago it took a crazy amount of time for my copy to get over the ocean from the USA to the UK but after a few weeks of playing it I’ve decided Anti Flag should record all their records in this fashion and fuck polishing them just hit record and lay the damn things down – it sounds fabulous.
Anti-Flag formed in Pittsburgh in the late 1980s, as a reaction to the turgid Reagan years that melted into the Bush reign. America was a right wing powerhouse the only good thing to come out of those administrations was a wealth of punk rock kids who were motivated to kick against the pricks and in the early 1990s, Anti-Flag released a cassette titled ‘17 Song Demo’, full of raw fury and Clash inspired energy, and they weren’t afraid to say what was bothering them.
To be fair to bands like Anti Flag it’s like Groundhog day with Trump leading America for four years that same anti-Regan and Bush movement had someone else to rage against the machine which kept them relevant musically and lyrically. 17 Song Demo, has been released on CD and vinyl, with an eighteenth track, a cover of “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver.” Some of these songs would be re-recorded for their 1996 release ‘Die For The Government’.
The LP kicks off with ‘They Don’t Protect You’, a song about how the police don’t protect the poor. You’d never think it was written several decades ago! This song has great, harnessed energy about it, and whilst being a demo it sounds tight. It’s followed by “Red, White, And Brainwashed,” which comes at us at a furious pace, and touches upon the systemic racism of this nation. “They call that being a patriot/Well, I just call it ignorant/If you don’t fight to make thing better/Then you’re the one betraying this country.” Oh yes! “Your Daddy Was A Rich Man (Your Daddy’s Fucking Dead)” is a middle finger to people who come from privilege and do nothing good with it, the exact people who think their riches are some kind of superior status and put them at odds with the real world. This spirit and energy is something they manage to keep harnessed throughout the record, it should be given away in schools to disenfranchised kids to show them that music can set you free and be worthwhile. Get away from the phones, computers, social media there’s a great big world out there.
Anti Flag were ahead of the curve when these songs hit as they were a tight unit who had principles and a punk rock ethos that is admirable and more than anything, needed in a world that seems to not give a shit day after day after day.
“Kill The Rich” is like the bastard child of ‘Sonic Reducer’. ‘Betty Sue Is Dead’ is another great song that shows how the band could groove and it wasn’t all crash bang wallop. They could do covers as well and make them their own like the extra track, a cover of “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver,” originally done by Mission Of Burma. All in all a very respectable collection of songs that are well worth investigating, It’s great to see how the band evolved and how they broke out from the first official album that set out their road map for success on their own terms and they’re still going strong.
Author: Dom Daley