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Uniform Choice: Use Your Head

This reissue comes to us courtesy of Southern Lord, the label vocalist Pat Dubar contacted to put together the definitive version of this classic album. Each of the 14 tracks have been remastered from the original tapes by Brad Boatright (Excel, Nails, High on Fire, and others) and things sound just as striking and fresh as they did back in 1986—maybe even better. This long-awaited reissue gives fans old and new the version of the album they need to hear, no matter how many times they've heard it before. This release makes up for the general lack of a good copy of Use Your Head for many years. Sure, there were plenty of bootlegged versions, but this reissue gives the music the treatment it deserves. I have an electronic copy, but those who pick up a physical copy will get an 8-page 12"x12" booklet, liner notes by Casey Jones (an iconic Orange County, CA punk rock figure) and plenty of never-before-seen pictures. This is an essential release by one of California's very best hardcore bands and it deserves to be heard.

As a teenager, I listened to this album so much that Use Your Head has become synonymous with California hardcore. I still measure hardcore albums against this one even though I know the sound and style represented here are only part of what makes up the hardcore sound. Nevertheless, I love this album so much that I play it for my son, for my wife, my friends, and for anyone else who asks me if I like punk rock. I do—and Uniform Choice is one of my favorite bands.

Obviously, punk rock has multiple variants, even in the Southern California of my childhood. And yet, there was a moment when this style was not only popular but dominant. I'm not sure what forces brought it to the fore but for a time it was everything. Minor Threat obviously played a big role—they came up with "straight edge," after all—but many California bands embraced the energy, the anger, and the power and develop it into what you hear on Use Your Head. As a teenager, I frequented Fender's Ballroom, a now-defunct club that booked too many up-and-coming punk rock bands to list here. In those days, $5 would get you admission to concerts by Underdog, Final Conflict, and others. For me, punk rock was about energy and passion. Bands like Uniform Choice had a commitment to punk music that resonated with me. I even liked the straight edge lyrics. I didn't drink or smoke or use illegal drugs—unusual for a high school student back then—and so I felt connected to the music in more ways than one.

Since those days, punk rock changed. Bands like Minor Threat and Uniform Choice moved on to other things and the straight edge sound and style morphed into something else. For most people, it became associated with violence and aggression. At the time of Use Your Head, however, the music represented something much different. It was a reminder that rebellion and nonconformity begin with a mind free and clear of addiction. Only then, the music suggested, could you figure out how to live. It's right there in the title: Use Your Head.

As I write this, I have the album playing in the background. It is so familiar to me and yet I find myself rediscovering just why I loved it back in 1986. This remarkable album is not only one of my personal favorites, it is also one of the best albums of its kind. Check it out!

Track Listing:
1. Use Your Head
2. My Own Mind
3. Straight and Alert
4. Build to Break
5. Scream to Say
6. Once I Cry
7. Sometimes
8. Screaming for Change
9. No Thanks
10. A Choice
11. Big Man, Small Mind
12. Don't Quit
13. In Time
14. Silenced

Added: January 27th 2017
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Label Page
Hits: 1170
Language: english

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