TO ROMANCE; GOODBYE TO PHYSICAL MEDIA: S'S, PART FOUR: SUICIDAL
(Yeah, this isn't a hundred CDs like other individual band pages, but I had to break up S more)
Suicidal Tendencies (1983, Frontier - I have the '97 Epitaph version) - This album has always existed in a weird kind of limbo for me. On one hand, it's pure greatness, living up to its reputation and all that, and if you're gonna say this is the best thing Suicidal ever did, I'm not gonna argue. But on the other hand, I grew up with ST in the Rocky George metal era, so this has always felt like a different band to me. (And the entire band got replaced within a few years, so yeah, it pretty much is a different group) It feels like some punk band Mike Muir had going on before he started Suicidal Tendencies. On the mutated third hand, even for a punk record, there is this tendency for a metal-as-hell guitar solo to come flying at you out of nowhere, I mean, "Institutionalized" is just lousy with them, so maybe this is a lot closer to the next few records than I had realized. Anyway, if you talk to someone my age or younger, say something about just wanting a Pepsi, and see if they catch it as a Suicidal reference or as a Limp Bizkit reference. Good way to smoke out the posers, then roll them for their cash.
Join the Army (1987, Caroline) - Here we go, the first "real" ST album, even if the self-titled one is probably the best. Rocky George and R.J. Herrera are in the band, and they've gone full crossover thrash, all the way down to a big picture of Scott Ian being featured prominently in the inside. A funny thing about this one is that, as far as I know, it's never been out-of-print, rare, or in any other way hard to find at any point in the last 31 years, (oh god, 31 years) but growing up in a physical media dead zone, this always felt like some rare gem. The self-titled one had been re-released a hundred times and everything else was on a major label and in any music store and BMG catalog, but this one was actually hard to find where I lived and no one seemed to have it, despite being readily available pretty much anywhere else in the continental U.S. And that's why a lot of the Mississippi Delta's 80s/90s era metalheads were all kinda bummed that Still Cyco After All These Years was 99% stuff from the first album. Also, why I didn't have this until almost 2015.
How Will I Laugh Tomorrow... When I Can't Even Smile Today? (1988, Epic) - There's a funny thing about Suicidal Tendencies. Back in the day, these dudes had this air as the baddest motherfuckers on the planet, just this band of scowling cholo-looking dudes that would make your Clark Griswold-lookin' ass would lock your doors as you drove by, even though you were hopelessly lost and in desperate need of directions. I'm no historian or anything, but I'm pretty sure their fans were considered an L.A. gang at one point, and the prominence of blue bandanas and the number 13 on their merch probably still scares some of you people. But man, you read the lyrics, and this is probably the most sensitive, feeling-ass band in the entire 80s metal scene. Every song is about being sad and/or lonely, like the kinda shit that made people froth in rage at goths and emo kids in the 2000s, but I guess they tend to keep their mouths shut when the singer is a barrel-chested dude with a big neck and cryptic gang references in his clothing and demeanor. Mike Muir may have been the first health goth.
Controlled By Hatred/Feel Like Shit... Deja Vu (1989, Epic) - This one has always been weird. It looks like an EP, has EP-like tendencies, (two alternate versions of a song from the previous album, most of it consists of re-recorded No Mercy songs) and mine even has a big "SPECIALLY PRICED E.P." sticker on the front, but I guess it's considered a full-length studio album by people who should know better? I dunno, either way, this seems like the "forgotten" ST record that no one cares about, and honestly, I've never been super into it, either. I guess it's because by the time I got around to getting this, I already had a nefariously-obtained copy of Widespread Bloodshed and didn't need new versions of those songs, and "How Will I Laugh Tomorrow" is maybe the fifth best song on that record, and I didn't need two more of it, either. Also, they really shoulda settled on one title of reasonable length for this, instead of this weird "combination of two separate EPs that never actually existed" concept.
Lights... Camera... Revolution (1990, Epic) - Man, another one of the all-time favorites that came out in 1990. A fine year. The best year. But this was the pinnacle of thrash-era ST, with the absolutely perfect lineup, and the first hints of funkiness that would eventually lead to the Infectious Grooves side project coming into existence. But again, here I am, just freaking out about what an insane year 1990 was. This, Rust in Peace, Seasons in the Abyss, Persistence of Time, Cowboys From Hell, The American Way, Act III, Slaughter in the Vatican, Facelift, Painkiller, all kinds of other stuff I'm forgetting, presumably other stuff I haven't heard yet, Jeeeeeesus. So much amazingness, so many memories, even f it is usually something as simple as "this was on a lot in the car on the way to school," or "this was on a lot while we played Gamma World." But anyway, this is, for me at least, the best thing Suicidal Tendencies will ever do, and a major part of why I wish their merchandise used the fancy version of the logo sometimes, instead of the more plain one from the first album. Also, band logos suck now.
The Art of Rebellion (1992, Epic) - I'm getting super repetitive with this shit, but another album from that early 90s era, when it felt like non-hair metal was on the brink of taking over the world, right before it all died. Although honestly, it's a good example of why such things happened, because even though this was really good, it was still a huge step down from the one before it, and when you start hitting the major label heights of having your videos occasionally played before midnight, the new MTV fans lose interest fast, and the label won't tolerate dropping back down to sustainable levels. I dunno, it's a theory, at least. Either way, this is still pretty great, just on an obvious downswing from Lights... Camera... Revolution, even if it is probably Suicidal Tendencies at their most sad and lonely. Even then, "Nobody Hears" is an all-time classic and the greatest example of sad, lonely Suicidal. Also, the "stand by, stomach, here come banana" intro to "Accept My Sacrifice" is still hilarious to me, and after 25+ years, I've never figured out why.
Still Cyco After All These Years (1993, Epic) - This is a complete re-recording of the first album, plus a couple from Join the Army, and one 1990 B-side. I really disliked this for years, probably because of some too-cool-for-school internet shit about preserving the purity of their original punk roots. You know, idiot shit to try and act like I was cooler than I actually was. (Which is not cool at all) But man, this is awesome, releases like this are almost always at least fun, the re-recorded version of "War Inside My Head" is the best thing ever, and in general, and I support anything that made more Muir/George/Clark/Herrera/Trujillo era Suicidal readily available. On a weird and random note, I really like the aesthetic of CDs from back when labels would have a uniform design to the Cd spine, but would occasionally use the same typefaces with colors to match the album art, as opposed to just red-on-white or whatever. Is that weird?
Suicidal For Life (1994, Epic) - In more Cd Project Repetition, this is one of those sad, circling-the-drain releases from that era when major labels had all these metal bands signed that they absolutely didn't want anymore, and utterly refused to promote as they fulfilled their contractual obligations. Gonna take this, Stomp 442 by Anthrax, and March or Die by Motörhead and package them all as an Ultimate Boxed Set of Sadness. But yeah, this was easily the worst album of the version of St that I grew up with, put out at a time when Suicidal and Infectious Grooves had switched places, and Suicidal was now the side project. What makes this weirdly great though, is that Mike Muir knew exactly what was up,and made it as hard as possible on his bosses, putting out a major release that couldn't have a track listing on it, because of five tracks with huge cusses in the title. On a related note, this really isn't all that great overall, but "No Fuck'n Problem" is pretty much a classic.
Prime Cuts (1997, Epic) - This is a contractual obligation-fulfilling "greatest hits" compilation, as well as a way to relaunch the band in a world without Rocky George or Robert Trujillo. The new stuff on here is weird, because it's way closer to the funk-metal of Infectious Grooves than the kinda lukewarm punk that was on the next actual (kinda shitty) Suicidal album. Of those, the two re-recordings of Join the Army songs ("Join the Army" and "Possessed to Skate")are insanely good, and justify the existence of this thing, even if you already have most/all of it. Of the two actual new (or at least new in 1997) songs, "Berserk" is a song I couldn't tell you anything about, despite owning it on CD for twenty years, and "Feeding the Addiction" is just kind of okay, and it sucks that these kept "Go'n Breakdown" and "War Inside My Head" off the "best of" compilation. Oh well. After this, Suicidal put out some shitty punk records, and they've re-evolved back into making slightly less shitty metal records in recent years, but this is a decent enough compilation that I'd have been okay with it as their big finale.