88 Fingers Louie - Behind Bars (Cover Artwork)

88 Fingers Louie

Behind Bars (1995)


I remember picking this up when it first came out. This was back when there were still punk labels that you could buy a record off of without ever having heard the band and pretty much know you were going to enjoy it. This was the case for me when I bought this album. Though I always liked this record, I never would have said it was one of my absolute favorites, but listening to this album now I don't know why not.

The first thing I noticed listening to the record is how tight the band is. This is a band with members who know how to play their instruments. The album is full of pauses, pace changes and other interesting dynamics and these guys never miss a beat. They also sound incredibly thick for a band with only one guitar player. Dan Wleklinski, aka Mr. Precision, puts on a great show here. There is a lot more going on than just power chords and octave chords that so many bands of this style from this time period relied on. The drumming is competent, even if you never here anything especially amazing, and fits in perfectly with the rest of the band. I especially enjoy Joe Principe's bass playing on this record--he was one of the better bass players in '90s punk and still is today with Rise Against 15 years later.

Denis Buckley does a good job of carrying this record vocally. He always had a unique style and I have always enjoyed listening to him sing. There are well-placed harmonies throughout the record, but he doesn't rely on them and really holds his own as one of the better vocalists in '90s punk rock. If I have one complaint about this record, it's that some of the lyrics are a little too depressing for my taste, but they are well-written and even though I hadn't listened to this record in quite a few years I found myself singing along immediately.

The production on this record is great. The mix is perfect and it sounds organic. I remember some of the bands playing this style in the '90s sounding a little overproduced (although that was more in the late '90s and thanks a lot Ryan Greene), but this sounds great. The guitar and bass sound thick, the drums are booming, and the vocals fit nicely on top.

If you are at all a fan of '90s punk or melodic hardcore, or if you've only checked out Back on the Streets (like most of my punker friends), then listen to this album. It's solid all the way through with no filler and you won't be disappointed. Besides, this is the first full-length from guys who would eventually bring you Rise Against, and I know a lot of people love Rise Against.