SS – “The Original”

We’re headed back to Japan, this time to take a listen to one of the very earliest hardcore bands of all time, there or anywhere else, SS.  And yes, I know they’re named SS and I know what the Schutzstaffel was and did in the 1930s and 1940s… though I wouldn’t be surprised if the young dudes of the band SS didn’t, at least not in any real sense, when they formed in the 1970s.  Are there racist punk bands?  Yes.  But in the early days of punk using Nazi names and imagery was done for shock value and not advocating fascism or racism, at least it was most of the time.  Feel how you will about it (and I’ll admit it makes me slightly uncomfortable), but that’s pretty accurate.

The Original is a live recording from 1979, though it wasn’t released for the first time until 1984, well after the band broke up.  The original issue was limited to 500 copies, and it was re-released in 2002 on a clear, one-sided(!) 12″ in a limited edition of 900 copies.  Limited editions are, of course, a tricky issue.  Sure, 900 copies of the re-release (the version I have) can very well be considered rare, or at the very least scarce; but if only say 400 people give a crap, then it doesn’t matter, at least not from a value standpoint.  I have no idea how many people care about the re-release of The Original, but you can find copies online for about $15, so that probably tells you what you need to know.

The 12″ is broken down into two tracks, but don’t be fooled – as near as I can tell there are around 18 songs on this record, all of which are counted off Ramones style with a super-fast “1-2-3-4!”  And at only a little over 13 minutes in length, well, you can do the math.  SS plays their songs fast.  This is legit hardcore.  The even wrap it up with a cover of the Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” that’s faster than any other version of it I’ve ever heard.  The sound quality is decent for a late 1970s live recording, so if you’re into early hardcore you’ll definitely want to check it out.