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Reissues of obscure ’80s punk releases are always a welcome and worthy addition to one’s music collection, as they add meat to the stories told in countless books and films that cover the era. Grey March dominated the Baltimore punk scene with their heavy post-punk-bordering-on-death-rock sound for about three years in the mid-80s, and this collection documents the band’s recorded output during that time.
Early Works begins with Grey March’s eponymous lone 1986 LP. These six tracks perfectly encapsulate that brief period between hardcore and grunge, when labels like SST and Homestead defined the American independent music scene. Musically, it slightly recalls Burning Image and the earliest recordings by Green River (Come on Down) and Soundgarden (Deep Six) with a heavy Joy Division influence. Mikey Dub‘s guitar effortlessly fluctuates between Black Sabbath-style riffing and Hendrix psychedelia, while Stuart Berlinicke and Eric Wiegmann come off as the John Entwistle and Keith Moon of punk rock, respectively. Ron Weldon‘s keyboards add mysterious, atmospheric textures, making a perfect template for vocalist Trip Burch, who intones the lyrics like Ian Curtis with a Jim Morrison drawl. It’s an album that deserved more recognition than it received when it was released 27 years ago.
“Beneath the Sea,” a compilation track from 1987 that has a bit of a Bad Seeds vibe, and some early demos round out the disc. It’s these demos that reveal just how entirely integral Joy Division were to Grey March’s sound, as they could be lost recordings from the original Warsaw (not on the box set) LP.
Ultimately, Early Works is a powerful retrospective, not only of a band, but also a specific time and place. May Grey March finally achieve the recognition they deserve.
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