February 28, 2008

Clicky Clicky Hardcorner: Life's Blood's "Left Me Behind"

Life's Blood Live
[PHOTO CREDIT] So a few weeks ago we watched the seminal punk-umentary "Another State Of Mind" for a second time, and for the first time in more than a dozen years. The film -- which is surprisingly well-crafted considering the shoestring budget floating the entire proceedings -- memorializes a 35-city Youth Brigade/Social Distortion tour that transpired in 1983. The highlight of the film is where everything falls apart and Youth Brigade and Social D's Mike Ness are forced to hunker down with Ian Mackaye and Minor Threat at Dischord house for the better part of a week before throwing in the towel. Actually, the real highlight is when one of the guys demonstrates the various versions of moshing.

But as a 30-something, one thing struck us square between the eyes after watching the movie: there is a reason that straightedge hardcore, launched of course by the aforementioned Minor Threat, was not popularized by or even popular with 40-something investment bankers. That reason, of course, is youthful idealism, which surrounds the sub-genre like a moat. An argument can be made that the youthful idealism is actually naivete. But, more importantly, the context and content of straightedge hardcore was decidedly reactionary (and local, but we can explore that topic another time). Most of that reaction was manifested as anger or at least aggression targeted at one time or another at small men with big mouths, betrayal, alcohol and drug users, rivals and so forth.

But we think perhaps the most potent hardcore songs are ones that target the things that threaten the fabric of the subgenre, this aforementioned youthful idealism: change and, more specifically, maturity. It is for this reason we think one of the most affecting straightedge numbers is Life's Blood's "Left Me Behind." As an adult it is hard not to see a more universal sentiment expressed in singer Jason O'Toole's throat-shredding and surprisingly poignant recrimination: "You grew up and left me behind. You. Left. Me. Behind." According to this Wikipedia page a label called Prank Records has acquired the rights to the Life's Blood catalog and intends to re-release it. At least one member of Life's Blood went on to play with Born Against, among other acts. The Middle Aged Youth web site posted an excellent item here about Life's Blood here in 2005 -- make sure to read into the comments for a surprising amount of up-to-date information from the people that were there. The picture above was taken from the Middle Aged Youth page and used after unsuccessfully attempting to secure permission, so we hope using it is cool.

Life's Blood -- "Left Me Behind" -- Discography [Vermiform, 1993]
Life's Blood -- "Never Make A Change" -- Discography [Vermiform, 1993]
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[Out of print. You're going to have to search around.]

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