Back When Punk Ruled – Reagan Youth
Punk rock ruled the East coast underground in the early 1980s with the CBGB club showcasing bands like The Misfits, & Reagan Youth. The name Reagan Youth was specifically coined to mock then President Ronald Reagan by likening him to Adolph Hitler. The band was politically driven with everything they did especially lyrically where strong statements were made on religion, American conservatism, hate groups, and anarchy. This was the brain child of now deceased front man, Dave Insurgent, whom died in 1993. Dave was the American equivalent to Sid Vicious with a known heroin habit and lifestyle to match which ultimately took his life in 1990. Reports indicated a dispute with a New York City heroin dealer as the cause.
Reagan Youth was important because they had qualities not always found in the underground movement. Their message was always sisynced and conveyed with logical thought processes despite their aggressive views of the system. Not all punk bands were able to be politically cogent. Consider the much publicized gang from England called the Exploited who never wrote songs with great wisdom to buttress the passion but always showed colorful mohawks with anarchy flags citing that Punks Not Dead. Unfortunately punk was dead when the message isn’t there despite the marketing concept of punk which laid dormant for years until Green Day arrived and showed the world how to market poorly written songs with no substance by calling it punk. Fuck you Green Day, the 90s were a period when the youth needed a voice and you gave us garbage. The irony of American Idiot was lost on Green Day but ten years earlier Reagan Youth showed intelligence of history and tied facts to religion with some very noticeable guitar work with “Jesus Was a Communist”. The corresponding video is below but be advised the author included his own religious imagery which follows suit but not an official Reagan Youth creation.
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My apologies for the youtube disabled video, hopefully you clicked the title and heard why Reagan Youth was special. What jumps out the speaker when listening to the song is not the extreme contradiction of the Socialist-hating conservatives who use Jesus as justification to attack any social program when Jesus was obviously a highly respected example of the Socialist/Communist people who have tried to bring the Communist health care system in 2012. The obvious guitar work was not found in early punk music but was a frequent trademark of Reagan Youth’s sound as Queens native Paul Cripple shows his passion for technical guitar stylings of virtuoso legend Jimi Hendrix. Front man Dave Surgent is pictured below.
Reagan Youth had the message, ability to articulate the message, and the people to deliver it in a relevant context to give America a homegrown example of what the punk movement could be in the states. From the Volume two album the following song “One Holy Bible” is a six minute classic.
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Lastly, I’m compelled to mention the extreme nature of Reagan Youth’s message of anti-racism, anti-christian conservationism, and aggressive approach against hate groups like the KKK. This type of behavior isn’t around these days unless you are aware of Rage Against the Machine’s lyrics on similar issues. Reagan Youth would feature images of the hate groups they opposed on their albums which really confused my gramma when I hung their albums on my wall. See the following image of said album.
I brought this album into my high school for people to hear and was denied by the school who cited the album was offensive and inappropriate. I tried to explain the point of the album content as it relates to the cover but nobody was interested in the facts, they just wanted it to go away. The most empowering, revolutionary, and challenging ideas since the 1960s was rejected on appearance which shows how quickly we forget whats important. Ronald Reagan is responsible for changing the tax structure in this country which took the top 1% off the hook for paying most of the taxes and shifted it to what was once the middle class. The tax structure that allowed this country to prosper during the previous 60 years was changed by Ronald Reagan which has put America into a crisis impossible to overcome. Destroying your own country based on greed is an appropriate correlation to make with Reagan and Hitler.
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