7 Seconds’ magnum opus Walk Together, Rock Together is one of the greatest albums to come out of the early ‘80s hardcore punk scene. It was also the first truly punk rock record that I ever bought. By that I mean that it was the first punk album released by an independent, punk rock, record label that I ever owned (interestingly though, I didn’t realize at the time that they were a punk band; I thought they were a straight edge band…oh did I have much to learn). The day that I bought this tape I also picked up The Ramones self-titled debut. Amazingly I still have that original cassette of Walk Together, Rock Together. I have since gotten the album on CD but I held on to the tape for sentimental reasons (plus it has better liner notes).
Originally Walk Together, Rock Together was released as an EP. Then in 1986 BYO Records re-mastered and re-released Walk Together, Rock Together as a full length album with a set of live tracks to fill out the release. The live tracks include a couple of songs from Walk Together’s follow up New Wind and the rest from earlier releases. The first half of the record was produced by Ian MacKaye (of Minor Threat and Fugazi fame) and recorded at Inner Ear Studios (where Bad Brains, Minor Threat, and Dag Nasty all recorded). The production is fantastic and makes many of the releases from that era sound terrible in comparison. The lyrics throughout contain the common threads of working together, sharing emotions, and equally rights. The songs are blisteringly fast while remaining incredibly catchy and seeming designed to be song along with at the top of your lungs. The album is probably best known for the band’s stellar cover of “99 Red Balloons.”
Next to U2’s Rattle & Hum, Walk Together, Rock Together had more of an impact on my life than any other record. At the time that I first heard 7 Seconds, I was completely anti-drinking and anti-drugs. Someone at school said that I was straight edge, but I had no clue what that meant. Shortly there after I was listening to the Wednesday night Chuck Wagon edition of The Underground Circus (which was broadcast on a community radio station out of Tampa, FL), heard 7 Seconds’ cover of “99 Red Balloons,” and was completely blown away. It turned out that some of my friends at school were huge 7 Seconds fans and they told me that the band was a straight edge band. I then picked up Walk Together, Rock Together and was amazed by the songs, especially the message that they were send. Here was a band that was essentially taking what I loved about U2 and their message to the next level. This band sang about unity and equality and living a clean life. I was hooked. Soon after I got my hands on Minor Threat’s self-titled cassette (which included their first two seven inch records and is basically the first half of the Complete Discography CD) and it seemed like I had found my place in the world. Interestingly though, the scene in central Florida in the early ‘90s didn’t make a lot of distinctions between things like punk, goth, hardcore, industrial, alternative, emo, college rock, etc. We listened to it all. We’d go from listening to 7 Seconds to the Violent Femmes to KMFDM and because of that I never thought about 7 Seconds or Minor Threat as punk bands until years later. It made perfect sense to me to listen to the likes of R.E.M. and the Descendents and My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult without getting all nit picky about the differences in sub-genres. At the time we were called the “progressive kids” and we thought of this as progressive music.
The energy and passion of 7 Seconds, especially on Walk Together, Rock Together, always hit home with me. This is a record of youthful exuberance and hopefulness that through the power of music the world can be made a better place. This is actually something that I still believe and this is a record that will always hold an extremely special place in my heart.