Thursday, November 24, 2011

Blast from the Past: 85/86

Title:  85/86 (Amazon, Wikipedia)

Dag Nasty was Brian Baker's post-Minor Threat, melodic hardcore band.  The band started with Baker on guitar, Colin Sears on drums, Roger Marbury on bass, and Shawn Brown on vocals.  The band recorded eight songs in one day at Inner Ear Studio that were to be part of the band's debut but Shawn left the band.  He was then replaced by former DYS (and future ALL and Down By Law) singer Dave Smalley.  The band went into the studio and recorded the seminal Can I Say but right before the band was to go on tour opening up for the Descendents, Smalley left the band and was replaced by Peter Cortner.  After the tour the band went into the studio and recorded the fabled Mango sessions.  The band broke up but reunited a few months later, joined by former Descendents bass player Doug Carrion and in 1987 recorded the Wig Out at Denko's album.  So within a two year period Dag Nasty went through two bass players, three lead singers, and recorded/released two classic albums. 

In 1991 Selfless Records released the 85/86 compilation which included the songs recorded with Brown on vocals (including two live tracks), the Mango sessions with Cortner on vocals, and two out takes from the Can I Say sessions with Smalley on vocals.  At the time these tracks weren't available on any other official release (most have been added to the re-issues of Can I Say and Wig Out... or part of the Dag with Shawn release). 

85/86 was the first Dag Nasty release that I ever purchased.  I found a copy of the cassette during one of my first trips to Music Dimensions in 1994.  I grabbed up the tape because at the time Dag Nasty releases were not that easy to find.  This was my first exposure to the band and what I remember about that first impression was how much Baker had influenced the sound of Minor Threat.  When you listen to those early Dag Nasty recordings, especially the ones with Brown, they really sound like what Minor Threat would have sounded like if they hadn't broken up after the Salad Days EP.  

Since 85/86 was introduction to the band, I got to know Brown's and Cortner's singing (the cassette did not include the Smalley tracks) so when I later picked up Can I Say it took me a bit to get used to Smalley's take on the songs.  Since then I've come to love all three of the singers and their different takes on these songs (for those who haven't heard Cortner's take on some of the Can I Say songs, I suggest searching for either the What If? sessions or the Healthy, Loud and Honest collection).  Sadly this collection is out of print, but as mentioned above most of this material is available elsewhere.  That having been said this is a great collection to have (especially since it is the only place that "Moni Q" is available and the only other place to get the Mango sessions version of "All Ages Show" is on the 20 Years of Dischord collection). 

Sadly Dag Nasty isn't as well known as fellow DC bands Minor Threat or Fugazi and that is a shame.  This band, in ever incarnation and on every album, was tight as bad-word and they produced some of the greatest and most underrated records in punk rock history.  If you are a fan of the likes of Minor Threat, Embrace (Ian MacKaye's post-Minor Threat, pre-Fugazi band), Fugazi, or Bad Religion then I highly suggest giving Dag Nasty a listen.

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