Dag With Shawn
25 Years Ago, four smelly dudes went into a studio and recorded their nine songs. One of those dudes was in Minor Threat and it was probably a big deal to hear on the streets of DC. Seeing as most post-Minor Threat activity was not quite up to par or that long-lived, the prospects of any of those dudes doing something new and potentially dangerous was probably quite stirring. Among those four dudes was a lanky kid named Shawn Brown. He could yell, boy could he yell. A pair of pipes had not been heard in that town since Ian Mackaye to be sure. They made something awesome and epic. Then Shawn Brown left the band.
In the years following, Dag Nasty would record a few more albums with a couple different singers that would have an undefinable and lasting effect on untold generations of punk rockers, some of which who would measure a lot greater legion of fans than Dag Nasty. Shawn Brown joined up with Swiz that is beloved by those in the know, but feels relatively unknown as time’s handles continue to churn. But what of the music these people made together?
These tapes are kind of legendary in the DC circles that I have wandered in for the past two decades. A very odd, crappy bootleg CD existed and has been copied by many completists. I even recently saw said disc at a used store in Seattle, proof that the legend extended beyond our little backyard swamp. But now, Dischord records, quickly proving the doctrine of archivists Ian Mackaye has stated for years, has pressed this fine bit of history onto vinyl.
Never seeking to be confused with being verbose or chatty, this nine song album is presented with no frills, and no tales of the humble beginnings of this seminal band. The Dischord website itself has just one short paragraph on the subject with an end post stating, “This is essentially the same album that was later re-recorded and released as Can I Say.” This nearly undermines the project almost completely, if it weren’t for the strength of the record itself. For the first time Dag Nasty sounds like a gritty, no holes barred punk band, and it isn’t only thanks to the gruff stylings of Shawn Brown, whose approach was not mimicked by future vocalists. Instead, the song writing chops of Brian Baker are showcased in their rawest form and we get a powerful, aggressive and fast punk rock record. In fact, this is the link between the early years of DC hardcore and what would follow, in large part thanks to Dag nasty themselves.
The Can I Say album showcased a more polished, oiled sound with a dynamic singer in Dave Smalley. It has often felt, in hindsight to encapsulate a more career minded Brian Baker whose musical history includes a hair metal band and the inclusion of being a hired hand in Punk Rock grandfathers Bad Religion. Here however, we find a version of Dag Nasty that was hungry to be heard. As the music scene of DC seemed to slow and calm down, Dag Nasty still wanted speed and fury to be a part of the equation. And it isn’t just a repeat, because Baker’s catchy sensibilities are showcased in perfection.
This is Dag Nasty as I always wanted them. True, had they stayed the course and had Brown continued along with the band, they probably wouldn’t have had the impact they did on the legions of followers. Dag Nasty’s influence seems so often unnamed, but is so obvious to my ears, even now, when new bands add harmonies and slick riffage. But Dag With Shawn is a truly great piece of history and thankfully not lost.
Improvisations 1 & 2
About a year ago I dropped fucking astral, metaphysical science on you by introducing you to Zomes. But you didn’t fucking listen to me. I know you didn’t listen to me because somehow Asa Osborne is still not on a cosmic tour about the galaxy and beyond throwing down his sonic awesomeness from a fucking space ship. Because if you did what you should have, you would have bought the CD, told your friends, they would have bought the CD and so on and so on and then he’d have like ten billion dollars to build an intergalactic space craft with amplifiers and speakers and shit and he could just fly around in the vastness of the celestial offerings way up in the sky. So seriously, this rant is a FUCK YOU. Why? Because you can’t get this fucking tape anymore, because some dude only made 150 of them and their aren’t gonna be anymore made. And yea, I did in fact transfer this tape to digital, but I’m not gonna share it with the internet. You know why, because you don’t deserve it internet. You don’t. You fucking don’t listen to me, and because of that really cool shit, like Asa Osborn in a space cruiser playing keyboards, doesn’t happen. And that disappoints me. It disappoints me a great deal. It gets my blood pressure up. Which I don’t appreciate. I’m glad this tape is rare, I am glad it’s on a dead format that only shit heads like me care about, and I am glad I get to be withholding to you internet, because you pissed me off. You can redeem yourself, barely, by purchasing his full length that is still available from Dischord records, right now.