Decry – Falling (Toxic Shock) 1984. This may seem like an obvious one but Falling by Decry is out of print again. Sure there was that great re-issue a few years back on Cleopatra Records that collected everything by the band, but it’s long gone and as always, it’s fetchin’ some high prices on Amazon.
Although, the Cleopatra release was the one to own just because it was so complete (if only Power by SSD had been as well archived!), it would be an overstatement to say that all of Decry’s material was consistently great. Their early stuff was fairly generic, by-the-numbers, hardcore. The Symptoms of Hate 7inch is well regarded largely because it was by the band who later recorded Falling. It wasn’t bad, but as my buddy Ian sez, it just didn’t *pop*.
So even though Decry had been around for a while, releasing tracks on comps like the Half Skull 7inch and Barricaded Suspects, Falling seemed to come out of nowhere. Make no mistake, when this platter dropped in our unsuspecting hardcore record dustbins in 1984, we just had no real idea how to even deal with it. Everything about it seemed just perfect and it defined the angst and the zeitgeist better than anything else at that particular moment.
The cover drawing looked like the kind of drawings we would create on the back of our leather jackets. Skulls….crucifix…nuclear cloud…are you fucking kidding me? What else do you really need on the front of a hardcore record? The thing kicks off with the title track, an ode to drug addiction that depending on the listener, either spoke to your own drug problems or made you feel like you had a drug problem. This is followed by a hardcore number with gothic overtones called The Raven that breaks down into the most insane chorus you could imagine in this sort of song.
Suburban Death Camp follows. It’s another hardcore track with an amazing chorus break (DIE!!!!!!). Vocally, it’s fair to point out the similarities between Farrel’s vocals and Tony Adolescent. Then Breakdown. Another influence comes to mind, Dez-era Black Flag. A more mid-tempo sort of deal. Next is Charred Remains which is one of the two crucial tracks on the LP. It’s a nihilistic track about, I believe, the Ted Kennedy car crash. Like Agent Orange said before them, “Speed Kills”.
Really everything on the album is great. There isn’t a dud. SDHNC for instance summed up perfectly how I felt about certain girls at that time. Yeah it’s mean and misogynistic, but it was true. The gothic overtones to the LP, like My Bloody Dream and the aforementioned Raven give the LP a dark weight that it probably wouldn’t have if all the songs were about your dad being a dick or something.
The other crucial track on the LP is Asylum. Clocking in at almost 5 minutes long and containing numerous parts, it was pretty damn epic for a hardcore LP in 1984. The twin guitar sound and the surfy, Agent Orange-type lead is classic So-Cal. Lyrically it’s about the wisdom that Farrel’s father apparently passed on to him at his death bed. It’s genius, in a way that only a teenage mind can come up with.
On a personal note, my own dad died shortly after the release of this album and I dealt with my rage over that largely by blasting Asylum whenever I could. Seriously, you could keep your psychotherapists, your guidance counsellors, your teachers….give me Falling by Decry, a steady stream of punkettes, an unlimited supply of smokes and occasional property to vandalize and I’ll deal with it my way, thank you.
The album ends with a cover of Sonic Reducer, which if you grew up listening to Radio One means that you were totally familiar with this song. It was a great addition to the album because it placed Decry completely within the punk tradition. If you would have asked me at the time, I woulda told you that Decry were one of the greats. I seriously wanted to hear the early 7inch. These were the days before punk blogs. I was in Missouri. What’s a punk to do?
Falling was followed by the tragic Japanese EP. If you read this blog regularly, you know that I am all about re-appraising old records. No amount of re-appraisal will ever get me to like Japanese. Sorry. Decry just set the standard bar to fuckin’ high with Falling to descend into sub cock-rock mediocrity. It felt like a goddam betrayal. I moved on.
Looking back, Decry were not one of the greats. It just seemed like that in 1984. They were a decent hardcore act that degenerated like a lot of other decent hardcore acts, into moronic sub-metal boogie woogie. Falling however, must have hit at that one moment when Decry was a great band. The production, the lyrics, the graphics, the playing, the singing….all of it was perfect at that moment in time. Even now when I listen to it, I am impressed. If you haven’t heard it before, by all means, check it out. If you have, listen to it again.