Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Straight edge is a verb?

I was listening to the BBC World Service on the radio the other night while going to sleep. They used (indeed had a 4-5 minute piece on!) words I never thought I would hear on the radio: Straight Edge.

The piece reported on the 'new' youth movement called straight edge. ('New' apparently being used in the 'about-a-quarter-of-a-century-old' sense. Didn't know you could do that.)

Straight edge is something I've listened to since at least the mid 80s. The music of sxe (I talk about the x later - in a future post) is distinctive. Imagine nonmetallic hardcore with fast bits, slower 'mosh parts', and lyrics almost exclusively about not drinking, not doing drugs, not being a racist, and being a good friend.

I was somewhat surprised the Beeb has not heard of sxe before. In the early 90s several communities were apparently concerned enough about packs of hardline kids (imagine sxe cranked up to 11) to declare them to be dangerous gangs. Maybe the producers of the program just didn't make the connection.

But this is a music blog. I should really get to the music.

Most of the straight edge I have (and I have a fair amount) is out of print, or really, never in print to begin with. There are some items readily available that could be considered vital.

In particular, Minor Threat's self-titled debut EP. This release contains the song "Straight Edge" - from which the movement gets its name - and should be considered required listening. So listen to it already!

Another of my faves is the east coast's Youth of Today. Before several of the members floated off into a Krishna-induced haze YOT exemplified straight edge. The usual concerns are there - drink, drugs, friends. YOT adds dietary issues, taking a strong vegan stance.

The 'new' movement the Beeb reported on adds yet another issue to the somewhat limited sxe palette - abstinance. I really kind of part ways with sxe here. Respect has always been an underappreciated aspect of hardcore/punk/whatever - from 7 Second's "Not Just Boys' Fun" to riot grrrl. I'm not sure that abstinance is the only way to express this. I have always had a fair number of female friends not looking to 'tarnish' my friendship with them. OK. Would it be OK if we smudged it up a little bit? No? All righty then.

But that has precious little to do with music.

Next post should be better. I'm thinking I'll finally get around to raving about The Choir Practice.

Straightedge to contemporary choral. Huh.

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