Government Issue - Complete History Volume 1 (Cover Artwork)

Government Issue

Complete History Volume 1 (2001)


Can you believe that I'm just now getting into Government Issue, more than twenty years after they began, and God knows how many since they broke up? Every hardcore and punk rock kid from the Virginia/DC/Maryland area above the age of 25 has a few GI stories, and unfortunately I just missed out on that demographic. Most of the younger generation's knowledge of GI's back catalogue consists solely of the Legless Bull EP, and while that was definitely worthy of holding a place next to all the other early Dischord records like Minor Threat, S.O.A., and Youth Brigade, unlike those bands the GI's went on spitting out great music for years beyond the heyday of the harDCore scene.

Unfortunately, the songs that GI recorded for the Legless Bull EP and the essential Flex Your Head compilation aren't here, but that's okay because I'd almost recommend buying Flex Your Head and Dischord 1981 - The Year In Seven Inches before this GI discography, if only for the argument that they'll expose you to a lot more bands than this disc. Where this disc does pick up, with all of the GI's other work, including seminal records on great labels like Fountain Of Youth and Mystic, is with a GI that is just as quirky, aggressive, and tongue-in-cheek as they were on their earliest records, if not more so.

I must admit, though, when I picked up the CD I was kind of scared at the prospect of two entire compact discs worth of raging hardcore, but if any band can pull it off, it's definitely GI. From multiple versions of the classic "Sheer Terror" that get progressively more playful, to the aggressive pop of less acknowledged albums like 1986's self-titled LP, Government Issue remain completely interesting, never failing to give unique variations on the hardcore theme.

It's difficult to even talk about this record at length because it's just so essential. Through this chronological collection of GI's work you can chart the progression of the first generation of hardcore kids from lightning fast thrash, to quirky pop, to straight up power pop. However, this isn't like sitting in history class, this music actually rocks. If you've always been trepidatious about dipping into GI's large collection of recorded output, or even if you've picked up one of their later albums and found it a bit boring, I would still recommend this collection. There is a ton of early stuff that anyone remotely into hardcore would definitely go nuts for, and the later material becomes genuinely interesting within the context of the band's work, and before long you'll find yourself reaching for disc two rather than disc one. So, basically buy this or you're a poseur. 'Nuff said.

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