Monday, March 19, 2012

Chain Of Strength - True Til Death

First press
Chain Of Strength - True Tili Death
Download:  Original mix here
Purchase:  CD or LP here
Released: 1989

Story by Tim McMahhon, singer of Mouthpiece, Triple Threat, Hands Tied and co-founder of Double Cross Webzine.

In the very near future, Double Cross Webzine will be re-launching their website on a new server. Expect a few minor changes that will help make the site more user friendly.  Their new url has not gone live yet, but you should bookmark for when it does.

Starting back in 1987 and on through 1989, my friends and I would skate on down to the West Trenton train station and catch a train into Philadelphia. Once we got to Philly, we'd skate, hit up South Street, go to all the record stores like Chaos, Philly Record Exchange, 3rd Street Jazz, shop at Spike's Skates, Skinz, Zipperhead and round the day off with some pizza. For us, Philly was our version of NYC. We'd hear all about everything going on in NYC, Some Records, Venus, Bleecker Bob's, CBGB's, the Brooklyn Banks, etc., but for whatever reason, at that time, NYC just seemed so much further away and a bit overwhelming to us. So the much smaller and condensed Philly did the trick for us.

When new records were released and more specifically, new Revelation records, there really weren't a lot of options as to where I could pick them up. I could obviously order from Rev, but at that time, ordering anything from them was a total crap shoot and it could end up taking 6 months to receive your order. I did have a couple local record stores that carried Rev releases, but they were inconsistent and didn't always get the releases on the anticipated release dates. Also, with the local shops, I'd have to rely on my parents to drive me out and that wasn't always a sure shot deal.

In 1989, at the time that the Chain Of Strength "True Till Death" 7" was released, it came in the wake of some pretty epic releases from Revelation, so the bar was set high and I was excited to say the least. My first memories of Chain Of Strength probably revolve around an ad that Revelation Records put in Maximum Rock N Roll for the "True Till Death" 7" and a MRR Southern California scene report that they were mentioned in. There was definitely some hype, I knew some of the members played in Justice League, I somewhat knew there resume and the bottom line was that I knew I had to get my hands on the record.

Tim wearing a Chain Of Strength
shirt in his high school I.D. photo
So my friend Scott and I skated on down to the West Trenton train station and caught a train to Philly like we had done in the past. I was focused, I knew Chaos Records always got the latest Revelation releases and usually even colored vinyl, which was an added bonus. Chaos seemed to be the equivalent to what I was always hearing about with the shops in NYC. Chaos always had the most recent releases, a wall of rare records, demos, fanzines, the owner was punk, it just seemed perfect.

Once we got into Philly and skated on over to Chaos, we both walked in and started thumbing through the box of 7"s. There was no question about it, between me and Scott, I was definitely the guy that had the "True Till Death" 7" in my cross hairs. Scott undoubtedly wanted the record as well, but just not with the same eagerness and enthusiasm that I had. Then it happened, Scott found it first, but my initial nervousness quickly turned to optimism that Chaos would naturally have another copy, so I continued to dig. The 7" that Scott found, was of course the coveted green vinyl, which made me slightly worried that his copy might have been the only green vinyl, but I continued to dig. Maybe another copy got misplaced, maybe they had more copies behind the counter. I asked the guy at the register, "Do you happen to have another copy of this Chain Of Strength" 7"?", to which he quickly respond, "Nope, sorry man, that's the LAST ONE". Boom, I was devastated. I turned to Scott and asked if he'd let me buy the one he found, but he refused. All of the sudden, Scott became the biggest Chain Of Strength fan and had the biggest smile on his face.

We left Chaos and headed out to the other record stores, all of which left me empty handed. Chaos was the only record store in Philadelphia that had the Chain Of Strength "True Till Death" 7", how could that be? I was beyond bummed and beyond jealous that Scott virtually stumbled upon his copy. I tried once again to rationalize with Scott and beg him to sell me his copy, but he wasn't having it. I offered to order him a copy, but again, it wasn't an option. It looked like if I was going to get myself a copy, I'd have to order one and play the waiting game.

When we got back to my house, Scott did sympathize enough to let me throw his Chain record on my record player and at least make myself a cassette copy. I guess a taped copy was better than nothing, plus I'd be able to listen to the record and study the lyric sheet while it taped.

I remember hearing those drums ring in "Just How Much?" and I remember hearing Curtis yell, "Hey listen up, yeah, I just got one thing to say, I wanna talk about… something that means a fucking lot to me" and I was sold. Everything just came together so perfectly. Yeah, Curt's vocals were a little understated and low in the mix, but it didn't take me long to completely accept it and embrace it. Chain Of Strength were just the band I needed at that time. They were fast, tight, the mosh parts made you want to kick through walls, the lyrics spoke to me and felt like something I could have written myself. I thoroughly connected with Chain Of Strength and that "True Till Death" 7". at the time, I could sense things starting to slightly shift and change in the hardcore scene and some bands weren't being as vocal about straight edge as they had in the past. Some bands were going metal, some were going rock and slowing down, but Chain Of Strength were an onslaught of first-rate straight edge hardcore. Aestheticly, Chain Of Strength also hit the nail on the head. While many were criticizing Chain for being too "surfer" looking, that was something that never bothered me. All the BOLD shirts, X's, bleached heads, X Swatches, etc., were things I was down with and again, felt a connection to.

Really, every single song on the "True Till Death" 7" is perfect, both musically and lyrically. The song "True Till Death" is about as much of an anthem as you can get, "Let Down", "Never Understand", pure betrayal, pissed, to the point and in your face, "Best Of Times", a virtual word for word summary of the experiences of me and my friends, growing up. Twenty three years later, this record is still one of my favorites and still hits home, just as hard as it did way back then.

In the end, I did order the record directly from Revelation and I did have to wait longer than I wanted to, but still, I got my own copy. My mail ordered copy came in black vinyl, so I had to hunt down a green one, but at least I got one and still have that copy to this day. Scott on the other hand, I'm not sure if he still has his, probably not if I had to guess. I will say though, at least that taped copy from his record, got me through until I got my own.

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