Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The SST Records Story - Perfect Sound

Was flipping through Perfect Sound's article archive last night and found this very interesting piece on the now-legendary indie label SST entitled, "The SST Records Story".

For those who don't know, SST records was a vitally important American record label that released some amazing albums by bands such as Black Flag, The Minutemen, Saccharine Trust, Meat Puppets, Soundgarden, Sonic Youth, etc.

The label
was at the forefront of an explosion in American DIY punk and also provided the inspiration for the little upside down SST logo drawn in black Sharpie on the white insole rubber of my Chuck Taylor's in high school (still have that pair of Chucks, and in fact they're sitting on the floor right beside me as I write this).

So it's fitting that this piece on SST, written by one Dave Lang in 1998, should start off on a similarly personal note. Let's have a look:

There was a time way back in the early to mid 1980s when a certain label out of California by the name of SST was quite the hot thing. Its roster of artists was untouchable: Black Flag, Minutemen, Meat Puppets, Husker Du, Saccharine Trust, Firehose, etc. By 1987, things were looking even better; then-groundbreakers like Sonic Youth, Bad Brains and Dinosaur Jr. were joining the stable, along with second-generation LA "legends" like the Divine Horsemen and Universal Congress Of. The label was on a winning streak. By 1989, however, the rot had set in; by 1990, forget about it, SST was dead in the water... not financially, mind you, just artistically. Let's get the bigger picture...

First is my "personal history" with SST, and secondly I'll get to the actual label and its story, and what I believe to be its choice cuts. As a 14 year-old, I, and probably just about every other punker-wannabe out there at the time, bought the Repo Man soundtrack. Already juiced up on the Sex Pistols and the Dead Kennedys, and having just rented the video, it was a logical choice.

One particular number hit home: Black Flag's "TV Party". The song made me laugh, yet like the best music at such an impressionable age, it kind of scared me too. "Who are these American geezers? They sound nuts!" I pursued the matter further with a quick purchase of the Nervous Breakdown 7" and the almighty Damaged LP. The latter, naturally, is a record I'll take to my damn grave, if need be.

And so it went, drooling over fanzines at the time like Flipside, Chemical Imbalance, B-Side and Forced Exposure, I kept on reading incessant namedropping of other SST artists like the Minutemen and the Meat Puppets, and before you knew it I was hooked. The Minutemen quickly became an object of worship in my bedroom, and any record with an SST logo on its jacket had my name on it: it was mine. By the time I was 17, it was probably getting a bit ridiculous: if it wasn't on SST, I didn't want to know about it..."

Enjoy the article, and we'll see you tomorrow for more rock n' roll fun.

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