Fugazi, 13 Songs
Impressionist lyrical topicality signaling a new punk politics
Not an album but a double EP comprised of 1988′s self-titled debut and the following year’s Margin Walker. That the two work so well together — Fugazi with underrated hometown producer Ted Nicely; the second with the much more traditional John Loder — is a testament to the band’s then-singular blend: impressionist lyrical topicality signaling a new punk politics, a way with mutant reggae vibes and a whole lot of the Stooges‘ “Funhouse.”
Taken from their first record, “Waiting Room” was the smash “hit” that set the tone for their early work: an indelible bass line, rhythmic chug, Ian’s bellow and Guy’s otherworldy, almost androgynous moan. “Bulldog Front” and “Bad Mouth” seem to address traditionalist punk scenesters; “Give Me the Cure” raged at AIDS; “Suggestion” showed shifting perspectives on a rape; and the live staple “Glue Man” meditated on addiction. A dazzling debut.
The title track of Margin Walker is pure fury: Loder’s production makes for much stricter, more traditionally rock rhythms. “And the Same” redefines activism, environmentalism and the prison-industrial complex are screamed at elsewhere. “We speak the way we breathe,” Ian intoned in “Promises,” even while the music promises truth to power. All 13 songs are a revolution of the mind.