City Slang: “Tied Down” revisited

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Hardcore heroes Negative Approach hold a very special place in my heart. Anybody that read my Metro Times cover story on frontman John Brannon may recall that I saw NA for the first time at an All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in England, on a bill with the Stooges, DKT/MC5 and local noise band Wolf Eyes. It was a genuine Detroit evening.

And shit, they were amazing. Like, the kind of amazing that made me wonder how I hadn’t been listening to them since the early ‘80s. I’ve made up for it since.

When I was at Brannon’s home, interviewing him for that feature, he gave me Tied Down on vinyl. I listened to it for about a week solid. It is, in short (like their songs), everything that a hardcore punk album should be: brutal, intense, rapid-fire, but also memorable.

That’s the thing about NA that nobody talks about. Yeah, Brannon has an inhuman bark. Yeah, they play faster than everyone else. Yeah, there was violence at the shows. Etc, etc. But NA had TUNES. Real songs that, if you weren’t kicking the shit out of your buddy, you could sit back and enjoy.

Proof? Check out the title track, “Hypocrite”, “Nothing” and “Your Mistake”. The songs are angry, no, furious. But there is melody there that shouldn’t be ignored.

Old school NA fans will tell you that the 7” is better than Tied Down and they are probably right. But that is why this LP needs to be checked out again, and again, and again. Because it is the one that gets forgotten, and that is your mistake.

Click here to join the City Slang Turntable community!!!

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