20 September 2013

Bad Religion - Stranger Than Friction

In what is slowly becoming my mission to go through my American punk collection, here comes another blast from the past.  Back in 1994, Bad Religion were one of the hottest punk band's out there with The Offspring, both were on the threshold of leaving their label Epitaph and moving onto major labels.  This was Bad Religion's first major release for Atlantic Records.  At the time it was strange that this was happening, apart from the brief period in the late 70's, punk music had been keep to independent releases and it suited the genre just fine, but after Grunge and Nirvana; everything with a fuzzy guitar was deemed cool and record labels were signing up everyone they could.  This is not saying that Bad Religion had no right to being signed, just showing the backdrop that this album was released against.

This was the eighth release by the Los Angeles, California who originally formed in 1979.  Once this album was released, founding guitarist Brett Gurewitz left the band only to rejoin them again seven years later.  Bad Religion are one of the more politically focused and observation of human behaviour.  If you are looking for party punk, you will be best off looking elsewhere to be honest.  From the opening shot of "Incomplete" the band are out to set the world right after they have been spat out onto the world, coming fast on its heels are the fanatic "Leave Mine To Me" which shows that their politics are for the greater masses and then it is falls straight into the title track which is a tale about their view on the world, and it continues like this pretty much all the way through the album.

For the full seventeen tracks which comprise this album, there is not one of them that you see the band reach for the acoustic guitar, talking about love or making a song for the lonely.  It wants to engage you, it wants to make you think for yourself and question your world and everything around you.  Songs like "Infected", "21st Century Digital Boy" and "Individual" just keep the listener focused on their agenda.  However there are a few issues with this album if I am honest.  As with most of their albums, I could inter-change a few songs and it does merge into one at points.  Songs like "Hooray For Me..." and "Better Off Dead" would be hard to differentiate out of a line up of most of their other works.  Also, the album is about five songs too long and would have made a much better impact in a short sharp punch format and released the other songs as a kick-ass companion ep.  But these are just moanings of a fan; this is one of the best punk records of the 90's, certainly of 1994.  If you have the slightest curiosity about punk and have not heard this album, it is really good albeit a little long.

6.5 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but not quite there

You can purchase one of the versions of the album on Amazon here

You can visit the Bad Religion website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

Here is the video to "21st Century Digital Boy"

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