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The Embassy Tapes

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Album Review

The Nation of Ulysses were seminal in a modern way, transcending easy definition. They obviously affected many bands, both in their body-shattering live performance reputation (mimicked by acts such as At the Drive-In and XBXRX) and in their rambling sonic attacks and flawless revolutionary songwriting. Nothing can touch the unending spout of energy and passion contained within their movements, as their cacophonous passion was put into the ridiculous, the childish, the pure. The Nation of Ulysses disbanded in 1992 after a short career that produced two full-length albums, and many people continued to romanticize the band, creating an underground cult following that has continued to spread partially via post-NOU projects of the band members, most notably the Make-Up and the Fucking Champs. Fortunately for listeners, a few of the NOU's later tracks written after their last album, Plays Pretty for Baby, were recorded inside the comfort of the Embassy, the band's group home. Although their second guitarist, Steve Kroner, was absent, these tapes still contained the everlasting youthful explosion of the NOU, including arguably some of their most well-written songs, such as "A.P.E. Embassy" and "Hex-Proof," and some reworked versions of their older songs, including "Shakedown" and "Last Train to Cool." Although the tape quality was quite low due to the volume of the music and the subpar recording process, The Embassy Tapes still commands an obvious value — a remaining trace of the much-loved, much-adored Nation of Ulysses.


Formed: 1988 in Washington DC

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s

One of the best-loved bands on the Dischord roster, the Nation of Ulysses are best remembered for lifting the motor-mouthed revolutionary rhetoric of the MC5 and blowing it up to an elaborate, almost ridiculous level. Any discussion of NoU inevitably comes to rest on their conceptual foundation: a relentlessly provocative (and entertaining) jumble of teenage rock & roll rebellion, leftist radicalism, anarchist punk polemics, and abstract intellectual rambling. This filled not only their lyrics but...
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