Minor Threat - First Demo Tape (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Minor Threat

First Demo Tape (2003)

Dischord Records

When it comes to Minor Threat’s First Demo Tape, the track list tells you all you need to know: “Minor Threat”, “Stand Up”, “Seeing Red”, “Bottled Violence”, “Small Man, Big Mouth”, “Straight Edge”, “Guilty of Being White” and “I Don’t Want to Hear It”. Eight perfect hardcore songs. Nine minutes that went on to spawn a movement and define an era. All of the songs were later re-recorded, but the power of the earliest versions is undeniable. In this current age of hardcore reissues, demos have become fairly commonplace. Usually they’re just tacked on at the end of an album. Most show varying degrees of promise. None of them are as compelling as this.

First Demo Tape was recorded way back in 1981. At the time, no member of the DC quartet was older than 19. Singer Ian MacKaye and drummer Jeff Nelson had played together in Teen Idles, and Minor Threat was the logical next step in their hardcore evolution. Musically, Minor Threat was somehow able to increase the speed and intensity. Lyrically, they were easily able to surpass the adolescent angst and frustration of Teen Idles. Minor Threat actually had an ideology that went beyond anarchy and chaos. This stuff was very high-minded for a bunch of teenagers.

All the songs are iconic at this point. The band’s eponymous track set the stage and pace. “Seeing Red” was a visceral expression of youthful rage. “Bottled Violence” and especially “Straight Edge” went on to influence the lifestyles of thousands of kids. “Guilty of Being White” remains the most maligned and misunderstood song in the band’s relatively small catalog. The anti religion “I Don’t Want to Hear It” was arguably Minor Threat’s greatest song. There are few differences between these songs and the official versions that were recorded only a month later. The First Demo Tape takes might have been a bit slower, but not much. They finally saw the light of day in 2003.

All four original members went on to have significant punk careers. MacKaye went on to form Embrace, Fugazi and The Evens , and of course runs Dischord Records to this day. Nelson played in a handful of bands and continues to run the highly respected Dischord with MacKaye. After Minor Threat, guitarist Lyle Preslar played in the Meatmen and a very early version of Samhain. He also ran Caroline Records and was an exec at both Sire and Elektra. Bassist Brian Baker went on to play with the Meatmen, Samhain, Dag Nasty, Government Issue and Junkyard. Since 1994 he has made his living playing guitar for Bad Religion. It all started with this crucial little tape.