Friday, March 2, 2012

Allied Records

My post about Peaceful Meadows reminded me of what a great label Allied Records was. It was started in 1990 by the graphic designer, John Yates, who was also working at Alternative Tentacles during Allied's 9-10 year run. Besides designing album artwork for the Dead Kennedys and other AT bands, he has also designed and created artwork for bands like Propagandhi, Jawbreaker, Bad Religion, Alkaline Trio, Promise Ring, His Hero Is Gone, Hot Water Music, Screeching Weasel, Green Day, NOFX and many others. Oh, and he also published a zine called Punchline. (Man, am I a lazy piece of crap!)

Despite the "big" bands that Yates has worked with over the years, Allied Records was a champion of smaller, underdog punk bands of all kinds. From pop punk (Dogs On Ice, Stink, V.Card) to sludge (Scrog, Buzzoven) to folkish peace punk (Strawman, Political Asylum) to emo (Fuel, Friction, Phleg Camp) to noise rock (Fiddlehead, St. James Infirmary) to hardcore (Unamused, Antischism) to spoken word and more. There were some more notable bands who had Allied releases or showed up on compilations like Jawbreaker, NoMeansNo, Dillinger 4, J Church, Jawbox and Hot Water Music, but even they had a fraction of the notoriety that they have today.

Speaking of those particular bands, there was definitely some overlap and kinship with fellow label, No Idea Records, who had releases with many of those same, and similar, bands. I'm not sure if Allied was more of an influence or peer of No Idea at the time. While No Idea is synonymous with bearded Fest punk these days, it's always had a varied roster like Allied as well. Allied even released a Bombshell album, which featured none other than No Idea's head honcho, Var. (From what I remember it wasn't that great.)

And what made all Allied releases great was the design and aesthetics of each one. You could always identify a Yates release or design by its political statement, working class sentiment or simply its tasteful style. Each Allied release was like part of a collection that you'd want to hold onto (even if the music wasn't that great).

Allied's final release was the vinyl version of the only official Jawbreaker live album (which was eventually released on CD by Blackball Records). It was a very limited edition and I don't even remember hearing about it until it was long sold out, even though I followed Allied and MRR pretty closely at the time. The label could have capitalized on Jawbreaker's popularity, as well as Green Day and the Offspring opening the door to commercial punk possibilities, but Allied quietly called it quits, staying true to its variety and its ideals.

Music for the proletariat.

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