Turning Point - 1988-1991 Discography (Cover Artwork)

Turning Point

1988-1991 Discography (2000)

Jade Tree

I love late 80s hardcore. You can argue that it's cheesy or simplistic or fake, but I'd have to disagree. Yeah, the message might be a bit overbearing, but the fact remains that it's honest. At the time, the idea of positivity had yet to be worn into the ground by years of bands that copped old lyrical styles because they were too afraid to come up with their own. Yeah, the music might be kind of simple, but isn't that the point? It's not supposed to be complicated, it's supposed to be fast and fun. The energy and power of the music is far more important than the intricacy. Yeah, you could argue that these bands were fake about being straight-edge and "posi," but I would argue otherwise. Once it caught on and became this huge thing in the scene, I think most people were into more to fit in than because that's how they actually felt. But I think these early bands really meant every word they said.

Now, that that's out of the way, who is Turning Point? One of the more well remembered bands of the late 80s/early 90s straight edge scene. You know the sound, you've heard it before with Youth of Today and Gorilla Biscuits and Bold and Uniform Choice and Chain of Strength. Heavy but not metalish guitars, fast tempos with the occasional mid-tempo part, vocals yelled very loudly, but not unintelligibly so, and lyrics about…well, being positive! There are some differences here, though. The band has more mid-tempo parts than most of their contemporaries. The emphasis is more on the riffs than say, Gorilla Biscuits. That means no additional second melody. The band's later work is quite melodic, but lacks that power chord/complex melody duality that GB was so good at. But most of the record is very riff-oriented. This is where my main problem with the album lies: the riffs often aren't that memorable. Unlike Youth of Today riffs, which I find myself humming in my head for weeks, these just seem underdeveloped and not all that catchy. They're not bad by any means, and there are a couple really nice ones, but I just wish the band had put more effort into that aspect of their music. And as for the lyrics, they're a tad more personal and introspective than the "we can do it!" of so many of the other youth crew bands. A lot of people credit Turning Point with being the band that helped popularize the idea of personal lyrics, though for my money, that could more likely be pinned on Dag Nasty and Embrace.

Keep in mind that this is a discography CD, so you're getting quite a bit of material. 3 songs from the split with No Escape, 12 songs from the "It's Always Darkest Before Dawn" LP, 6 songs from the debut 7", 8 songs from the demo, 3 compilation tracks, 4 songs from a radio show and 2 live tracks. Unlike so many other discography CDs that are loaded with extras (such as Negative Approach), the demos and live tracks are actually of excellent quality. Even better, all the live and radio tracks are not tracks the band recorded, so you're not getting doubles of songs (aside from the 3 songs from the demo that were re-recorded). Also cool is the fact that the songs are arranged in reverse chronological order, so you can hear the band getting younger. The tracks at the beginning of the CD (and the end of the band's career) are more mid-tempo and melodic, with more singing. As the album progresses, the songs get faster and shorter, and the vocals get more Ray Cappo-esque. Plus it's on Jade Tree, so the packaging is excellent, and the booklet is filled with cool photos, lyrics, and an essay on the band. Overall, you're getting a ton of music, 38 tracks making up 73 minutes. This is actually another of the album's weaknesses. Old hardcore albums are so great because they're usually only 20-25 minutes long, so they're over before they can get monotonous. But 73 minutes? That's a bit too much to take in one sitting.

So should you get it? I know a lot of people consider this to be a hardcore classic, but I'm going to have to disagree. It's good, but it's not great. It's a fun listen, but it doesn't stick with you too much after it's done. On the other hand, it is a nice document of a time long past. If you're not familiar with this era/style of hardcore, I suggest you check out Gorilla Biscuits' "Start Today", Youth of Today's "We're Not In This Alone" and Chain of Strength's "The One Thing That Still Holds True" to get a real feel for what late 80s hardcore is about. If you're already a fan of the style, then definitely pick this one up. It won't blow your mind, but it has more than enough solid hardcore to keep you satisfied.