1980, Music

Group Sex (1980) by Circle Jerks

If you were looking for an, ahem, “album” to epitomize what early hardcore waws about, you could do a lot worse than this debut “album” by the Circle Jerks.

I say “album” because it’s not even an EP-length record, but that’s sort of the point, isn’t it? 14 songs in 15 minutes might seem absurd to anyone not familiar with the genre but this very brevity – combined with basically never before seen intensity – was the kind of thing that made this music appealing.

The songs are catchy enough – catchier than some contemporary hardcore bands’ songs though it’s easy to be confused as to where one ends and another begins if you are not paying attention. (That is true of any of these super short hardcore “albums”.)

The lyrics are pretty typical of the scene though I would say that Morris is definitely better than some lyricists. (That may be a bit of a low bar, given how early in the scene we’re talking about.) His message isn’t quite as clearly distilled as, say, Ian MacKaye’s.

The music is quite aggressive, though not quite as loud as I was expecting given where Morris came from. As a brief, “pure” hardcore, it works really well. It’s definitely not as musically interesting as Black Flag’s music nor some of the other contemporary bands who were willing to depart from the formula.

My biggest criticism, if I have one, is that this is from late 1980 and it’s very much exactly what you would expect early hardcore to sound like. The genre was already starting to evolve just a titch – hardcore originated in like ’78 I think – and these guys don’t appear to care about that. They just want to play this music and play it briefly. It’s a very minor criticism, though. As I said, you could do worse than this record if you were looking for a typical album from the genre.

One of the iconic records of the genre.

9/10

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