Album review: NAKED RAYGUN – Reissues

naked raygun reissues

Audio Platter / Plastic Head

Chicago punk band Naked Raygun formed in 1980 and their style strongly dipped into post punk and hardcore. They have been an influence on the likes of Dave Grohl and Blink192, and they have toured with The Offspring, Stiff Little Fingers and Bad Religion. Singles, EPs and compilation appearances, the Totally ….. five CD set combines their first five albums, all remastered.

They’re not a band you hear much of so this set is a great introduction.

The 1985 debut, Throb Throb, is largely a tidy affair of classic post hardcore with a brutal yet well organised guitar and exploratory lyrics. Short punchy songs. Opener Rat Patrol is pure mosh-pit and crowd surfing material. Then Surf Combat, energetic and raw, the guitar in bursts over a neat drum and bass rhythm. The only track that ventures into chaos is the 6 minute almost progressive Leaches Roller Queen. I Don’t Know is a very solid track that gets the head nodding too.

Second album All Rise, issued the same year, keeps up the intensity but there’s a new strength to the song writing; opener Home Of The Brave with its catchy chorus is memorable. Tracks like Knock Me Down nod to the classic US post punk and new wave of the era, but keeping up the crossover guitar and intensity. And tracks like Those Who Move have a guitar line (seemingly) influenced by the NWoBHM. Without making the debut sound sloppy, because it wasn’t, but this a tighter affair, and the album features two bonuses from a previous and long out of print CD reissue.

1988’s Jettison is a wonderful album and a well written (musically and lyrically) album – essential for post hardcore fans. The original album’s running time of 33 minutes – everything short and sweet, and that includes a sound cover of Stiff Little Fingers’ Suspect Device. Four bonus tracks to boot. The drum fills and vocal harmonies over the punk guitar make for a solid album. 1989’s Understand? follows suit, there’s a hint of the Ramones on a track or two, but the structure has become a little more mainstream, and doesn’t grab you like the predecessor. A touch of complacency perhaps?

1990’s Raygun….Naked Raygun, like Understand, is in itself a good album, but misses some of the character of early albums. Maybe the line-up changes had taken the edge off. It’s still supersonic in places and there’s much to love, but the band had changed since their debut. The saxophones on Holding You make for a good rock or post punk track, but it’s just not post hardcore any more.

 

Overall a fine set, every album has some seriously good moments, and while there are some bonuses, there’s plenty more out there. A nice booklet features lyrics.

 

Jump to this year and Over The Overlords, the reformed band’s new album. With solid production, you could argue that post hardcore no longer exists, but this is a fine mix of punk and rock, the playing is a lot more structured and polished, as are the backing vocals. Like almost every band with a root or two in punk, mainstream comes with age. That said, there’s still some solid playing and decent songs here. Suicide Bomb has a lot to say, but the changes of mood in the song make it feel a little disjointed even though segments on their own are rather good. The six minute Outro Outre has some heavy keyboards that give a gothic new wave rock feel.

All are well worth a listen, quite enjoyable, but really for fans of the band. ****

Review by Joe Geesin






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