By the early 1980s, the New York punk scene started to take on a new and more aggressive sound than heard before. The ‘70s brought a mix of New Wave and punk rock (Blondie, Television, The Ramones) through the doors of venues like CBGB’s, but by the 1980s that sound started to evolve. Bands started to up the beats per minute and added more distortion and speed to their guitars, while vocals got more and more aggressive — and so, the New York hardcore/thrash sound came to be.
On the crest of this crossover, the Stimulators were one of the first bands to start to incorporate this new aggressive sound. Loud Fast Rules features the band performing live back in 1980, featuring a 12-year-old Harley Flanagan on drums (Flanagan would go on to play drums and bass for the infamous New York City hardcore outfit Cro-Mags). The original release of Loud Fast Rules was released on cassette, so the audio on this re-release is about as good as you can expect from drawing the masters off of a mono-analog recording. The music itself is raw and driving, especially on the more fast tempo tunes like “M.A.C.H.I.N.E” and “Crazy House Rock.” There are also some more catchy pop-hooked songs featured here like “Dah Dah Dah” and “Blind Ambition,” and a cover of Kiss’s “Rock and Roll All Night.” There’s a lot of Ramones and Clash influence in these songs as well (and as expected).
Going back to Harley Flanagan, the fact he was only 12 years old when this was recorded blows me away. His drumming is clearly the highlight of this album, extremely tight. Re-releasing Loud Fast Rules will give the masses a chance to pick up a pivotal piece of New York music history, an album that influenced a generation of underground musicians not just in New York, but the world over.
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