I don’t know if any other punk rock band went through the myriad of transformations during its career the way T.S.O.L. has. Some of those changes were great and some were absolutely dreadful. Let’s put things in perspective from the band’s early years:
- spring 1981 – T.S.O.L. EP (The Black EP) was released, five tracks of left-wing political hardcore punk rock
- June 1981 – Dance With Me album, 11 tracks of mid-tempo goth-inspired punk rock
- 1982 – Weathered Statues EP, four tracks of experimental mid-tempo punk
I refuse to discuss the music released by the band after vocalist Jack Grisham and drummer Todd Barnes left the band in late 1983. Despite the fact original guitarist Ron Emory and original bassist Mike Roche were still around that version of the band managed to release music that to this day still makes me throw up in my mouth a little. I am still pissed that I got talked into seeing that line-up play at The Mason Jar.
Thankfully the original band did get back together eventually, releasing a live album in 1991 and four studio albums between 2001 and 2009. Sadly Todd Barnes passed away in 1999 of a brain aneurysm.
Now, fans of the band will notice that I left one album from the original line-up off the list. Beneath the Shadows was recorded in 1982, released in 1983 and is the inspiration for this post. Dance With Me is still my favorite album from TSOL, an album I believe is an ESSENTIAL part of any valid punk rock collection. I will admit, being young and dumb when Beneath the Shadows was originally released I didn’t “get it” at the time. To me the first EP and first album from T.S.O.L. epitomized the band and I was not ready for such a dramatic change. “C’mon, keyboards on a punk rock album?” Well, it took me a good 15 years or so I think to grow up and finally realize what a great album this is. Adding Greg Kuehn was sheer genius, helping create a sound that brought to mind what The Damned was doing at that same time, as well as reminding me of Siouxsie and the Banshees. The ten songs on that disc are beautiful and this album is probably the most punk rock album TSOL created. It’s just too bad the change led to the break-up of the original line-up.
T.S.O.L. appeared in the 1984 movie “Suburbia”. The band performed two songs in the movie, “Wash Away” which is my favorite track on Beneath the Shadows and “Darker My Love” which was not released in studio form until 2005! The live version of “Darker My Love” shreds, enjoy.
Album Inspiration: Beneath the Shadows