Officially, the Alternative Tentacles compilation, Let Them Eat Jellybeans was released in 1981, but I didn’t get wind of it until a year or so after that, when my friend Brad played it
for at me one balmy summer afternoon. Prior to that, the only proper hardcore I’d really heard was “Too Drunk to Fuck” by Dead Kennedys. As I wrote in this overwritten entry back in 2006, Let Them Eat… turned me onto a slew of new bands and new sounds. It really was a veritable “gateway drug” of an album.
One of those bands, of course, was Vancouver’s D.O.A., whose bracingly taut track, “The Prisoner” was easily one of the highlights of Let Them Eat Jellybeans. Bitten by the bug, I immersed myself in other hardcore records. I picked up a great live compilation called Rat Music For Rat People, which featured some of the same bands from Let Them Eat.., including D.O.A. tearing through “America the Beautiful” and “Fucked Up Ronnie.”
As if by fate around this same era, my sister sent me a care package from college. She was a student at Georgetown University and had become something of a regular patron at Commander Salamander, the Georgetown equivalent of Trash & Vaudeville. Picked up solely on the strength of the block capital letters spelling out “DESTROY TRADITION,” my sister unwittingly sent me a D.O.A. t-shirt. It swiftly became my favorite article of clothing.
Anyway, blah blah blah, I snapped up D.O.A.’s early recordings like Something Better Change, Hardcore `81, War on 45 and Bloodied But Unbowed. In `85, they released Let’s Wreck the Party, a comparatively slicker affair which found them playing to the center and moving away from their hyperkinetic roots. I still liked it, but started to tune out after that. By the same token, those first experiences hearing those early D.O.A. records remain some of the most indelible listening experiences of my life.
News came down today, meanwhile that D.O.A. guitarist Dave Gregg has passed away at the chillingly young age of 54. The details of his death are still unknown, but it’s a sad day regardless.
Pour one out and crank this way up.