Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cro-Mags-Before the Quarrel demo (1986)

  For the past few months, I've been living in Rome's San Paolo neighborhood. For the most part, it's a quiet, workaday neighborhood, but the defining geographical feature is the innumerable public housing towers that dot the landscape. When night falls, Moldovian prostitutes and East African heroin dealers dominate the asphalt, in between Carabinieri flying squads. Violence around here is a necessity, not a choice.

 The point is that this area is the closest I hope I'll ever come to experiencing the Cro-Mags' native landscape. Read John Joseph's autobiography and this background really comes into focus (although listening to Grandmaster Flash's "The Message" is more succinct).
 This is violent music from a violent time and place: New York City (the Deuce, not White Plains), ca. 1986. John Joseph sounds like the street kid he was, Harley Flanagan's bass has the entrancing effect on the opening track, "World Peace," that it managed to miss on the  LP, and Parris Mayhew's guitar soars and hovers over Mackie Jason's drumwork, which gallops through these tunes like the long-lost, essential ingredient it truly was. Fuck the "Age of Quarrel" LP. This demo captures the 'Mags as they were: angry, desperate street kids straight off the LES, long before Giuliani and his urban cleansing.


  I can't remember what blog I stole this demo from, but read this and you'll want to start selling fake acid to burnouts at Mets Stadium, too.

*EDIT, 7-14-12: Re-upped the file, fixed the link. It should work now.*

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