The first time I heard this tape when Ray Cappo lent me his dubbed copy so I could make a copy for myself; before I returned Ray's tape back to him I recorded the Replacements "Stink" onto the end of side two, which had been blank. Not very Youth Crew of me, I know, but this was a while ago (early '86, I'd imagine), before there was a manual regarding these things. I figured Ray would think "Dope Smoking Moron" was pretty funny, though I don't know if he appreciated my gesture. A short while later I was able to buy my own real copy of the Cro-Mags demo-- the copy that you're looking at here, natch-- which I'm fairly positive I bought from Duane at Some Records in NYC.
It sorta goes without saying that this demo was pretty mind-blowing at the time; I still think it ranks alongside "Victim In Pain" as one of the two best '80s NYHC albums ever. This was back when I was really into Negative Approach's "Evacuate", which I think is the song that drew the battle line between the Mid/Northeast style of hardcore and what the rest of the country was doing, so when I first heard "Malfunction" I was pretty psyched, to say the least. John Joseph brought the NYHC way of singing-- using a growl, then dropping his voice and talking-- to perfection on this recording (Tommy Carrol of Straight Ahead was also one of the first to be really good at this, I remember), which everybody then copied afterwards.
Then, of course, there's "World Peace", with its totally un-PC line, "If AIDS don't get ya then the warheads will"; if you were around back then and saw how the hippie MRR types were trying to bury NYHC, you'd understand what kind of a statement that song was. Not that I'm saying you'd like it any better, or agree with it necessarily, just that you'd understand where it was coming from a bit more. Since "World Peace" was my favorite song, that's where the tape was stopped the last time I put it back in the case, so now that one song sounds pretty wonky. Whaddya expect, it's a cassette tape for chrissakes.
I'm pretty sure the Cro-Mags intended this to be not just a demo but their actual first album, but then once they got signed they had the money to make a better recording and the tape became secondary. Myself, I thought the re-recorded "Age of Quarrel" LP sounded a bit too commercial compared to the tape, and even though I thought the songs on the record were still great, once my initial enthusiasim wore off I don't think I listened to the actual LP more than once or twice.
One Cro-Mags story I have that's sorta funny came after Ray and Porcelly had moved to New York, and a bunch of us were working on the New Beginning record label (Underdog, Crippled Youth, etc.) together. Porcelly called me up, pretending to be Kevin Mayhew from the Cro-Mags and saying that the Cro-Mags liked what we were doing and had some songs that they wanted to put out as an EP on New Beginning. Of course, I called up Ray right away-- "Can you believe it, we're gonna put out a Cro-Mags record!"-- and Ray said, "Man, did you give those guys my address?" And I said, "Yeah, they said they had a tape for the record that they wanted to drop off with you." Ray said, "Man, Harley just walked in here, saying 'You can thank your dumb friend in Connecticut for letting us know where your apartment was', and walked out with my TV!"
After Ray told me that it was all just a joke, I was pretty bummed out that I actually wasn't going to be putting out a Cro-Mags record.
"Show You No Mercy"
"Don't Tread On Me"
(these files are now listen-only)