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Album Review

Album, the complete collection of Honor Role's work, excels more in concept than execution. Nearly every one of the 26 cuts features the same formula: monotone half-spoken vocals, a simple backbeat, piercing guitar, and non-existent basslines. Considering how early some of this work is (the first selections were recorded in March of 1983) allows some excuse for why much of it is unlistenable. Some songs ("Following Footprints" and "Skippy") sound like bad Spinal Tap covers, macho drones with lyrics that are equally engaging. But, as the retrospective progresses so does Honor Role's sound. The later stuff is reminiscent of Husker Du, Squirrel Bait, Big Black, and the Replacements. Fortunately the vocal duties are taken over by Bob Schick around 1985, which provides some relief since his spoken lines contain at least some tonality. Ultimately Honor Role will be a band remembered only through its influence. The emo sound and the Chicago hardcore scene emerged in part from their recordings. The vocal stylings and brash atonal drone can be heard on Slint's first record, as well as in most of Jawbox's catalog. In retrospect, it is hard to imagine anyone being blown away by songs this primitive, but at the time their sound was rawer and more daring than anyone else's on the East Coast.

Customer Reviews


The i-Tunes review on this is backwards - the songs start with the 2nd (and final) Honor Role LP, Rictus, to their 2nd 7", Judgement Day. They released 1 cassette and one 7" EP prior to the "Judgement Day" single. They were one of my favorite bands in the 80's, and they're still one of my favorite bands. I wish Merge would release MORE Honor Role! Their guitarist went on to Breadwinner, their singer went on the Coral and then Dynamic Truths, all of whom had records on Merge. Check 'em out!

still relative

Although it takes a certain type of someone to get into Honor Role, you must first start by putting their music into perspective. When I saw these guys with Corrosion of Conformity in 86 they were the odd men out in that environment. They intrigued me then and subsequently captured my attention after the purchase of their second album. It is still relative. Lyrics are in tact but I can understand if the vocal stylings are not your thing. I personally enjoy raw, stripped down, unpretentious music. Thanks, all these years later. Glad I did have to burn their stuff from vinyl to MP3!

When I think back about the Eighties...

Honor Role made more of an impact on me than any other band. The music is genius. The insights and emotion expressed with very simple, almost pedestrian words, move me unlike any other band. - Simon Bob


Formed: 1983

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s

Inspired by the hardcore explosion of the early '80s, Richmond, VA's Honor Role formed in 1983 as a run-of-the-mill punk trio but quickly grew into a distinctive quartet that twisted out bleak, inventive post-punk. Sadly, they never received recognition that equaled their wiry, inspired recordings. Jelling around guitarist/vocalist Pen Rollings and drummer Steve Schick, the early lineup released a speedy, rather contrived nine-song 7" (It Bled Like a Stuck Pig) in early 1984. The band's breakthrough...
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