Don’t listen to what the media tries to tell you; for the most part, punk music is as dead as John Lennon. I’d love to see it come back, but hey, I’d also love to see John Lennon finally become a real father to Julian. Sometimes you simply miss the window.
In my opinion, one of the very last great punk records is, perhaps oddly enough, Metallica’s 1987 release Garage Days Re Revisited. It was a primal, stripped down, and aggressive homage to the punk music that had influenced them over the years, recorded live in a Los Angeles garage soundproofed by the band. As the story goes, the recordings emerged out of the practice sessions devoted to the breaking in of the then-new-now-gone bassist Jason Newsted, who replaced the irreplaceable Cliff Burton after the latter’s tragic death in ’86. Everything about the record is punk. It is sloppy and brilliant, it blisters and soothes at the same time, it is forceful and irreverent all at once, and at just over 25 minutes long, it was over far too quickly.
Hands down, the best track on Garage Days is the cover of Killing Joke’s The Wait. There’s nothing else to say except that it kicks royal ass. Honestly, I have no idea how a needle stays in place on the vinyl version of this recording, and that’s one reason why I threw out my turntable.
One of the less obvious joys of this track is that it might make the listener more curious about the band that penned the song, Killing Joke. And as it turns out, their version of the song kicks just as much bootie.
Formed in the late seventies in England, Killing Joke made some truly fantastic punk music. It’s hard to nail down exactly what the band was trying to do, and the thing you have to love about that is that the band probably could care less about it’s style or agenda, they just played the music that came out of their collective selves. Much of it is urgent and mysterious, and you got the feeling they knew something about a world that had thus far escaped you. There was definitely a primal quality to the early work, like the Clash on a bit of a freaky acid trip. And then–perhaps strangely–somewhere in the mid-to-late eighties they morphed into a new wave, Cure-ish kind of thing that I can do without.
All I’m trying to say is that I think it’s interesting; that’s the kind of useless human I am. I sit on my ass and ponder this kind of trivial crap.
Here is one of Killing Jokes early songs entitled Change, and it pretty much kicks ass: