What’s up Sorry Staters?
Wow, is this my first newsletter back since I went to London? Kinda wild. That trip already feels like it happened a while ago. I’m already back in the swing of things here at the good ol’ SSR. I had such a blast with my Acid in London, not to mention all the cool people I got to hang out with during Damage Is Done fest. Ola did such a great a job with the fest and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend a long weekend in London. Hot groups tearin’ it up, 2 of the best record stores I’ve ever visited in my life, oh and of course a crew of people taking mushrooms and pounding Buckfast in a park at 4am. Good times.
So now on to talking about my so-called staff pick. It might be low-hanging fruit, but I’m gonna talk about the Stains reissue. Should “reissue” be in finger quotes? When Daniel told me, much to his surprise as well, that Sorry State would be stocking a brand spankin’ new version of the legendary 1983 debut by the LA Stains, I thought to myself: “FINALLY.” The Stains LP has gained a lot of mystique you might say, in part because it’s one of the major early SST releases that has never been back in print since the 80s. Criminal, if you ask me, because the record is GOOD. Top shelf in my book. I threw on my copy again recently, inspired by the excitement surrounding this long-awaited reissue. Hate to use this turn of phrase, but this is another one of those greatly underappreciated hardcore records. Not unlike many SST releases, in-house engineer Spot worked on the Stains record – and you can tell. You can hear that dirgey, Black Flag-esque production in the guitar sound. But compared to other bands on SST, The Stains were just meaner, grittier, more frantic, more powerful, more unhinged. And why don’t more people feel this way? I would have to guess it’s because the record hasn’t been maintained in the historical consciousness of punk.
Almost like an accidentally well-kept secret of 80s LA hardcore, I think for a long time people weren’t really familiar with the record. I’ve heard a lot of stories from dudes a few years older than me who said you’d come across original copies used for like $20. Then one day, it cost more like $100, and in the post-pandemic record fiend economy, people are trying to sell the record for insane prices. But with no announcement, no advertisement, no warning, suddenly distro copies are available? Did SST finally cave and make this thing happen? Sorry State tried to get as many copies as we could, but ended up only being able to stock a handful. Of course, they sold out instantaneously. I could have called it ahead of time, but depending on how many copies SST produced, naturally there were not nearly enough copies available to satisfy the demand. Weirdly, it’s starting to feel like the reissue is becoming instantly hard to find, much like what happened with the original record. Which would really suck.
But that’s when the conspiracies started… If you haven’t been following along, let me fill you in: First thing I saw was people on the internet not even believing the reissue was real. Buuuut, obviously it is. People are buying them. I saw Sorry State’s copies with my own 2 eyes haha. The next thing was that people were saying these copies are actually bootlegs. Which is silly. They came from SST with their other titles, and if Greg Ginn was stocking a recently produced bootleg, then that would be totally hilarious. Then I started seeing several people purporting the idea that these Stains records that popped up out of the ether are not even reissues at all. Rather, maybe they are actually well-preserved deadstock copies that have been sitting in SST warehouses since the 80s. I could see where someone could get this impression. Apparently, the matrix is exactly the same as the original and the jacket layout is pretty convincing. On the internet, a bunch of people have been like, “It even still says $6.98 on the spine.” Which like, yeah cool, I guess. I dunno, I’m under the impression SST just used the same plates to press not nearly enough copies, and then reproduced the exact same jacket layout out of laziness. When I compare it to my 80s copy, the new jacket just seems too glossy and flimsy anyways. As I’m writing this I don’t have my copy in front of me to double check, but I can’t remember if mine’s a tip-on sleeve, but it definitely feels heavier. But then maybe the bigger ring indentation pressing of the first press is different from the 1987 pressing… Whatever, nerd shit. I have no idea. Maybe I’m wrong and these totally are 1987 deadstock copies.
Anyway, from afar, I’ve found the online frenzy surrounding this “reissue” (yep, finger quotes) wildly entertaining. Who knows? Maybe Lord Ginn will emerge from the shadows and illuminate us all with answers to this mystery. Until then, I really just fuckin’ hope that people who have been wanting this record for a long time (and for a reasonable price) can finally get their hands on it. That’s the point, right?
Anyway, that’s enough rambling from me for one week. As always, thanks for reading.
‘Til next week,