Friday, October 14, 2011

Empire - Expensive Sound

Empire - Expensive Sound
Release - 1981

Story by Klint Kanopka, bassist for Reign Supreme.

Editor's note:  Since this is an album on a major label, there is no download link available.

As I was nearing the end of my undergraduate career, I spent a hefty portion of my time on the Livewire Board.  At the time, it was perfect.  The board was chock full of crotchety old men and up-and-coming curmudgeons with deep tape collections on a constant quest for rare audio gems. It was as close as anyone could get to a sonic spelunking expedition.  That board and its constituent posters of the time are fully responsible for unearthing and digitizing all of those rare Quicksand and Supertouch tracks that are so coveted, as well as getting tons of great live videos on youtube, digging up the full Judge demo that (partially) ended up on the discog and distributing a boatload of radio shows and obscure midwestern 7"s that I'd never even heard of at the time.

So fast forward a bit.  One of my favorite eras of hardcore was the DC "Revolution Summer."  Bands were doing new and interesting things while avoiding the all-too-common rehash (don't get me wrong- I do love me some well done rehash) that's been historically common since the golden eras of New York, Boston and DC.  As I remember it, my friend Ahron Reinhard had been working diligently as something of an informal DC hardcore historian.  When talk of Soulside and Embrace hit full swing, he threw up the Empire "Expensive Sound" LP and offered with it this bit of (paraphrased) story.

After Billy Idol left Generation X, the remaining members stayed in the UK and formed Empire, which led to this LP and one single.  They only played about four shows before some lineup shuffles and a name change.  But, as legend goes, a box of these LPs ended up in DC in the hands of some of the "big dogs," like Hank, Ian, Guy, etc and they went absolutely nuts over it - to the point that some Embrace riffs are lifted directly from this LP.

Listening to the Empire record, you can definitely hear the inspiration for the instrumentation of some of those DC bands, but besides serving as a missing link, Expensive Sound stands on its own as a great LP.  The re-released version that's typically available for download also includes the Hot Seat single and a few other bonus tracks.  If you like either British post-punk or early DC "emo," it's definitely worth a listen.

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