Suicidal Tendencies


Suicidal Tendencies

Suicidal Tendencies - Suicidal Tendencies ©1983 Frontier
1. Suicide's An Alternative/You'll Be Sorry
2. Two Sided Politics
3. I Shot The Devil
4. Subliminal
5. Won't Fall In Love Today
6. Institutionalized
7. Memories Of Tomorrow
8. Possessed
9. I Saw Your Mommy...
10. Fascist Pig
11. I Want More
12. Suicidal Failure

Oh yeah. Mike Muir has always had a burr in his underwear. Especially as an angry nineteen year, as the first Suicidal Tendencies will aptly document. As most anyone who is even slightly familiar with ST knows, Suicidal Tendencies became the biggest selling independent record ever up to 1983 as well as giving the band the chance to be both the best and worst band of the year in Flipside Magazine's 1983 reader's poll. The album has received minor pop cultural immortality through the line, "All I wanted was a Pepsi, and she wouldn't give it to me! Just one Pepsi!", from their well-known "Institutionalized". Moreover, the album also was re-recorded in full ten years later by the 1993 lineup of Suicidal Tendencies (which only had vocalist Muir in retention). Given all that, it's hard to ignore or not own a copy of this wildly popular skatepunk/hardcore classic.

First of all, Muir obviously needed anger management courses in 1983, but the album serves the same purpose quite well. Lashing out at all things that get in the britches of your typical young adult, Muir's lyrics cover all aspects of teenagedom, from antisocial rantings ("Two Sided Politics"), parental issues (the aforementioned "Institutionalized"), politics ("I Shot the Devil", which put Muir on the list of people the Secret Service was not fond of) and dissatisfaction with existence ("I Want More"). The music is a whirlwind and nearly uncontrolled frenzy. The band sounded literally like no other in 1983. The band obviously touches base with a hardcore sound more than anything, but their entire approach is quite different from any of their contemporaries. At times the band comes close to musically disintegrating but they always retain the slightest thread of composure and given the lyrical nature, it's very fitting.

Certainly one of the most notable debuts ever and the only real representation of the early ST lineup, Suicidal Tendencies is the paradox of a slightly flawed, yet perfect documentation of youthful anger and alienation. If you don't have it already, you are obviously missing a vital part of music.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/2000

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Join The Army

Suicidal Tendencies - Join The Army ©1987 Caroline
1. Suicidal Maniac
2. Join The Army
3. You Got, I Want
4. A Little Each Day
5. The Prisoner
6. War Inside My Head
7. I Feel Your Pain...and I Survive
8. Possessed To Skate
9. No Name, No Words
10. Cyco
11. Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right (but They Make Me Feel A Whole Lot Better)
12. Looking In Your Eyes

Four years and half of a lineup later, Suicidal Tendencies returned from Venice Beach to finally follow up their wildly popular (and unpopular, depending on who you ask) self titled debut. Band leader Mike Muir had recruited new guitarist Rocky George and drummer RJ Herrera, hired Les Claypool to produce, and recorded Join the Army. This album unfortunately did not quite live up to the original album's stature, having more than a few problems. To no surprise, Muir & Co.'s musical approach had changed quite a bit over the interim and the sound was a cross between Motorhead and a tinge of punk. Muir's singing was a bit more controlled and not as manic sounding as his vocalizings on the debut. Unfortunately, the mix of Join the Army suffers from a muddled, indistinct quality. Moreover, the songs sound somewhat bare bones, lacking the substance they should receive. The new members help create a sound that doesn't sound so unhinged and ready to teeter off into the abyss of complete and utter chaos, but whether this is an improvement is up for debate. Rocky George's strength, as proved on the band's later releases, is more in lead playing rather than rhythm guitar.

Nevertheless, Join the Army has a handful of good songs: "A Little Each Day", "War Inside My Head" and the all out blitz of "I Feel Your Pain". Many of the songs sound like they need a bit more input to avoid just being aggressive for the sake of it. However, a year later the band would resurface with a few more lineup changes and finally nail down their newer sound.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/2000

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How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can't Even Smile Today

Suicidal Tendencies - How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can't Even Smile Today ©1988 Epic
1. Trip At The Brain
2. Hearing Voices
3. Pledge Your Allegiance
4. How Will I Laugh Tomorrow
5. The Miracle
6. Suicyco Mania
7. Surf And Slam
8. If I Don't Wake Up
9. Sorry?!
10. One Too Many Times
11. The Feeling's Back

Monumental and one of the best releases in the latter part of the 80s, Suicidal Tendencies' How Will I Laugh Tomorrow not only offers one of the longest albums titles of 1988 but arguably one of the best examples what could go right with the metal/hardcore crossover phenomenon of the 80s. Having added second guitarist Mike Clark, one of the best flat-out rhythm guitarists out there, shedding the more punkish and hardcore stylings of their two previous releases and finally figuring out how to approach songwriting, Suicidal Tendencies put together an album full of emotionally charged lyrics, rampaging songs and excitement all the way through. This was actually the first Suicidal album I personally had heard and it was a staple of my walkman back in the summer of '89 when I finally got ahold of it.

Literally every single of one of the songs (with perhaps the exception of the CD only "Suicyco Mania") is at the very least pretty darned good and most reaching the stratosphere of incredible. The addition of a second guitarist allowed lead guitarist Rocky George the freedom to noodle and lay his etherial and appropriate solos everywhere. Moreover, though Mike Muir's vocals are still a bit buried in the mix, the songs all contain excellent lyrics with tales of alienation yet self-empowerment. From a perspective forged after a decade of many a self-help book and infomercial, How Will I Laugh Tomorrow might actually serve as a useful twelve step program had the band bothered to record at least one more song for the CD. Muir offers thoughts on a variety of subjects that any young person can relate to and at the same time seems to be willing to overcome his personal demons (even literally, as "Hearing Voices" might suggest the boy is possessed), rather than live out a victim role. Given the fact that much of 90's alt-rock that has followed in the past dozen years is dripping with whiny college boys pouting over girls, Suicidal Tendencies' more aggressive attitude is a wonderful kick in the pants. Besides, "Sorry?!" (a huge personal favorite), the title track, "Trip at the Brain", "Pledge Your Allegiance" and the fun semi-instrumental are all catchy, fast paced and timeless. While the band initially received a lot of due praise for an entirely different musical concept on their 1983 self titled debut, How Will I Laugh Tomorrow reaffirms their position and deserved attention in an entirely different style. As stated above, one of the best highlights of the latter part of the 80s and entirely necessary for your record collection.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2000

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Controlled By Hatred/Feel Like Shit...Deja Vu

Suicidal Tendencies - Controlled By Hatred/Feel Like Shit...Deja Vu ©1989 Epic
1. Master Of No Mercy
2. How Will I Laugh Tomorrow (video Edit)
3. Just Another Love Song
4. Waking The Dead
5. Controlled By Hatred
6. Choosing My Own Way Of Life
7. Feel Like Shit...deja-vu
8. It's Not Easy
9. How Will I Laugh Tomorrow (Heavy Emotion Version)

Obstensibly an EP, this rather long collection of various outtakes, extra tracks and so forth is actually one of the better items in the Suicidal Tendencies catalogue. The EP was released in between studio albums while the band was searching out a permanent bassist (bass credits on this EP went to some mysterious Stymie fellow, who may very well be ST's "Dale Nixon"). While the production on some of the studio tracks leaves a lot to be desired and buries Mike Muir's vocals under the vertical wall of guitars (which aren't particularly well produced either), the songs are both aggressive, crunchy and carry on the tradition of disgust and anger that Muir cultivates so well. The EP also contains two versions of the previous full length's "How Will I Laugh Tomorrow" in video edit form (which hacks the song up too much) and "Heavy Emotion Version", which slows down the music and is more touching than the original. As for the other tracks, "Just Another Love Song" is an extremely speedy and cynical rant about pop music's tendency to dwell on sappy love songs. "Waking the Dead" is about as stereotypically metal as Suicidal Tendencies might ever become in a lyrical manner, while "Choosing My Own Way of Life" is a prototypical ST crunchy number.

While given EP status, Controlled By Hatred is chock full of excellent material from this constantly changing band. The crossover effect of the band's metal state of being with a hardcore feel is documented effectively. Moreover, the EP is just a blast of energy and Muir's rants and stands to this day as one of the better ST efforts.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2001

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Lights...Camera...Revolution!

Suicidal Tendencies - Lights...Camera...Revolution! ©1990 Epic
1. You Can't Bring Me Down
2. Lost Again
3. Alone
4. Lovely
5. Give It Revolution
6. Get Whacked
7. Send Me Your Money
8. Emotion No. 13
9. Disco's Out, Murder's In
10. Go'n Breakdown

Finally following up the absolutely phenomenal 1988 release of How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can't Even Smile Today?, Suicidal Tendencies came rampaging out of the gates with arguably their best record of all with Lights...Camera...Revolution!. The band was armed with an incredible new bassist in the form of Robert Trujillo, whose funk-edged and slap talents were shaped into the Suicidal machine quite remarkably. The production, the performances and songs are all top notch here, making this record one of the best statements ST would ever make.

Mike Muir's lyrical content still provides the main source of inspiration for this band. Angry, proactive and dangerous like a caged beast, his vocals were finally freed from being drowned by the rest of the band here. As the thundering album opener proudly states, "You Can't Bring Me Down" acts as a mantra for the band. Muir offers some of his trademark insightful views on alienation and self-worth in "Alone", televangelism ("Send Me Your Money"), self-empowerment ("Get Whacked", "Give It Revolution") and mental decay ("Go'n Breakdown"). The rant in the midst of "You Can't Bring Me Down" is certainly a punctuation mark on anger in heavy music as it completely and fully lets loose of all of Muir's deepset emotions. The addition of Trujillo also seems to have inspired the band to explore a more varied approach in their songwriting. "Lovely" allows Trujillo to flex his remarkable talent a bit while the album on a whole seems more charged and complete. Nearly every song here is either excellent or darned close to it. Lights...Camera...Revolution! is certainly one of the best releases of 1990, offering a well captured take on true anger and societal disgust.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2000

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The Art Of Rebellion

Suicidal Tendencies - The Art Of Rebellion ©1992
1. Can't Stop
2. Accept My Sacrifice
3. Nobody Hears
4. Tap Into The Power
5. Monopoly On Sorrow
6. We Call This Mutha Revenge
7. I Wasn't Mean To Feel This (Asleep At The Wheel)
8. Gotta Kill Captain Stupid
9. I'll Hate You Better
10. Which Way To Free?
11. It's Going Down
12. Where's The Truth

The Art of Rebellion now stands at this date as the last truly decent Suicidal Tendencies release. Considering the band took a nosedive right into the morass of artistic stagnation with the two releases after this one, it's hard to even give The Art of Rebellion its due because of the absolutely mundane material that ST would release. Nevertheless, The Art of Rebellion is still reasonably good as the the stronger songs here are some of the best the band had released up to this point. "Can't Stop" is a typical Mike Muir rant about alienation and anxiety while songs like "Accept My Sacrifice", "Monopoly on Sorrow", "Nobody Hears" and "We Call This Mutha Revenge" all work within the sound the band developed on Lights...Camera...Revolution!. "Asleep at the Wheel" is potentially the band's most progressive song to date and one of the best on the album by far. "Monopoly on Sorrow" offers an interesting cleaner guitar sound with a extremely snappy riff to make the song more compelling. "Nobody Hears" is essentially a rewrite of "Alone" and "How Will I Laugh Tomorrow" from the previous two studio albums, giving the listener yet another take on how Muir is so darned isolated from mainstream society. The unfortunate part of The Art of Rebellion is that although the first nine songs are all good to great, the final three are so depressingly plain and lackluster that it tends to bring the album down a notch or two. This also was an unfortunate omen of the future of the band that found them re-recording the band's 1983 debut with their 1993 lineup and then releasing a dismal and utterly pedestrian Suicidal For Life, which did the metal era ST in for good.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2000

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Still Cyco After All These Years

Suicidal Tendencies - Still Cyco After All These Years ©1993 Epic
1. Suicide's An Alternative
2. Two-sided Politics
3. Subliminal
4. I Shot The Devil
5. Won't Fall In Love Today
6. Institutionalized
7. War Inside My Head
8. Don't Give Me Your Nothin'
9. Memories Of Tomorrow
10. Possessed
11. I Saw Your Mommy
12. Fascist Pig
13. A Little Each Day
14. I Want More
15. Suicidal Failure

Needless to say, when a band with an almost entirely different lineup decides to re-record a decade old debut album, you as a music fan should immediately become wary of the motivation behind it. In the case of Suicidal Tendencies, this should be doubly so. Though not a perfect album, the band's 1983 self-titled classic is indeed a classic that displayed a young, refreshingly honest and raw band that made up for their technical inability with passion. It is in fact that naive anger that propelled Mike Muir at age nineteen to lead that original band into legend. The band's subsequent low profile afterwards and re-emergence with half of the lineup gone suggested the 1983 album was a standalone classic. 1987's Join the Army was overall a flawed and tepid piece of work that hardly should have followed up a brilliant debut. However, with the addition of rhythm guitarist Mike Clark (easily one of the fastest and best rhythm guitarists I can think of) to allow lead guitarist Rocky George to truly explore his soloist ability, the band became a formidable force again in 1988 with How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can't Even Smile Today?. It is very easy to say that the late 80s/early 90s lineup of Suicidal Tendencies was phenomenal. The band had a creative peak around the turn of the decade, but by 1993 much of the passion seemingly disappeared. Hence this re-recorded version of the debut album. Vocalist Muir said in interviews that he felt the album deserved to be given a treatment by the "superior" lineup of the 90s. If the debut had been an obscure piece of trash, I would fully understand his position. Unfortunately the original fury that made the debut so damned amazing is just not evident here. Instead, this sounds more like a highly talented cover band running through the songs with skill, but not the heart. Honestly, the new versions of some of these songs are an abortion: the infamous "Institutionalized" should not have been touched under any circumstance. The new "I Saw Your Mommy" is horrendous and overdramaticized to a nauseating degree. On the flipside, the two re-recorded tracks from Join the Army ("War Inside My Head" and "A Little Each Day") are given proper treatment and come across one hundred times better than the original versions.

Misguided and demonstrating the band's slow creative slide, Still Cyco After All These Years is just not something that should have been released. Perhaps re-recording two or three of these songs, along with the Join the Army tracks and the unreleased "Don't Give Me Your Nothin'", would have made for a nice EP, but the entire album was just too much. The old adage "If it ain't broke don't fix it" applies in full force here.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/1999

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Prime Cuts

Suicidal Tendencies - Prime Cuts ©1997 Epic
1. You Can't Bring Me Down
2. Join The New Army
3. Lovely
4. Institutionalized
5. Gotta Kill Captain Stupid
6. Beserk!
7. I Saw Your Mommy
8. Pledge Your Allegiance
9. Feeding The Addiction
10. I Wasn't Meant To Feel This/Asleep At The Wheel
11. Send Me Your Money
12. No Fuck'n Problem
13. Go Skate (Possessed To Skate '97)
14. Nobody Hears
15. How Will I Laugh Tomorrow

Like a former heavyweight champion who doesn't know when to retire gracefully, Suicidal Tendencies has become this band who keeps showing up in the ring without quite knowing when the bell has rung. Suicidal Tendencies had released quite a string of impressive CDs through 1992, although that year's The Art of Rebellion was a tad of a letdown after Lights...Camera...Revolution!. The band's true fall from grace began with the rerecording of the classic self-titled album in 1993, called Still Cyco After All These Years. The following studio album, Suicidal For Life, was simply dreadful and apparently they disbanded for awhile. In 1997, a compilation of old tracks, rerecorded songs and a couple new tracks suggested this band was back into it. As of this writing, the band, now with a new lineup yet again, is still around, but there's been little to encourage me to part with my hard earned money yet.

Prime Cuts may very well be a contract filler for Epic. The fifteen songs range from studio tracks, two rerecorded songs from Join the Army and two brand new tracks recorded specifically for this release. As with any compilation or best of from any band, there's always going to be some quibbling as to which songs should have been included and weren't or vice versa. The two new tracks aren't anything special and they feature one of the lineups from the Infectious Grooves side project as the new Suicidal Tendencies and a funkier approach. No original tracks from the band's first two releases are included in original form and worse yet, the two choices from Still Cyco.. are the two the band should never have rerecorded in the first place: "Institutionalized" and "I Saw Your Mommy". The two songs recorded from Join the Army, conversely, are an improvement since that album was never particularly fantastic to begin with.

If Prime Cuts was intended to reignite interest in Suicidal Tendencies, it doesn't fully succeed. The rerecorded songs and two new tracks might be of interest to hardcore fans, but on a whole I'd still rather play any of the original, studio albums. I suppose eventually I should find the latest ST discs, but nothing on Prime Cuts tells me I should drop everything I'm doing at this moment and do so.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2001

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