Uniform Choice - Screaming For Change [Reissue] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Uniform Choice

Screaming For Change [Reissue] (2017)

Southern lord

How excited would you be if you found out there was an entire Minor Threat full length out there that you had never heard? I would hope you’d be pretty excited. That’s how I feel about Uniform Choice’s amazing 1986 LP Screaming For Change. I’d heard of the band of course, and seen their name on 30 year old LA gig posters. I even knew they were revered by bands like NOFX, but this was my first time actually hearing their music. I guess it’s better late than never. The good people at Southern Lord Records have once again unearthed a lost gem for us all to enjoy.

Uniform Choice originally formed in 1982 in Southern California and is considered to be one of the very first west coast straight-edge bands. Either through imitation or evolution, their sound was very similar to east coast contemporaries and hardcore legends Minor Threat. Screaming For Change is considered their definitive statement. Fourteen ripping tracks in 27 minutes. The songs were mostly short and fast with frantic drums and the occasional chugging breakdown. The lyrics were ideologically driven and were either screamed/yelled or delivered in a spoken word style.

Screaming For Change is everything that was good about American hardcore. The individual songs are amazing. “Use Your Head”, “My Own Mind”, “Scream to Say”, “Screaming For Change”, “No Thanks”, “A Choice” and “Big Man, Small Mind” are all standouts that hit the familiar straight-edge topics. The evils of drugs and alcohol, the power of PMA and a clear mind, and strength through unity in the scene are all covered. Uniform Choice was rallying around these issues long before they became the clichés they are today.

“Straight and Alert” is the only song on the record to top three minutes. It could easily be the band’s theme song. “In Time” almost reaches the three minute mark. It’s the album’s most musically ambitious track and features a long, melodic intro. If there’s a misstep, it would be the spoken word closer “Silenced”. It sounds like a bad dramatic art piece performed by high school kids in black T-shirts, but even that has a certain youthful charm. Did I mention that this sounds a lot like Minor Threat? If this is an intentional rip-off, I’m willing to let it slide because it’s so good.

So why does an old guy who’s not afraid of better living through chemistry love these 30 year old straight-edge songs originally played by 20 years olds? It’s the undeniable passion and conviction. It’s their true belief in the power of the message. It’s the timeless, thrashing hardcore. This is undoubtedly one of the best reissues of the last couple of years. My words can’t do it justice. You just need to hear it for yourself. Uniform Choice actually has a fairly decent sized discography. I can’t vouch for all their records, but Screaming For Change is essential listening.