Cro-Mags - "The Final Quarrel: Live at CBGB 2001" DVD Review (MVD Visual) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cro-Mags - "The Final Quarrel: Live at CBGB 2001" DVD Review (MVD Visual)

Cro-Mags - 'The Final Quarrel: Live at CBGB 2001' DVD Review (MVD Visual)The latest incarnation of the Cro-Mags (with John Joseph and Mackie Jayson) have been touring pretty regularly over the last few years and it seems hard to believe that it had now been twenty-five years since the release of Age of Quarrel. I’ve read some recent interviews where John has been talking about recording a new Cro-Mags disc which should prove to be interesting as the band’s last recorded legacy was the “final quarrel” show that John, Harley and Doug played at CBGB back in May 2001 under the moniker Street Justice.

To give some background for this show, Harley & Parris (along with Rocky George and Gary Sullivan) released the Cro-Mags final studio disc Revenge (2000) but a major falling out between Harley and Parris resulted in Parris breaking up the band. The Revenge lineup reunited the following year with John Joseph and Doug Holland and started touring in support of Soul Brains (the reunited Bad Brains). Former rhythm guitarist Parris Mayhew attempt to stop this lineup of the band from calling themselves the Cro-Mags (see segment of Parris’ posted quote below) so I can’t remember whether the band was playing CBs as a ‘secret show’ or if this was to avoid Parris’ threatened lawsuits.

"This recent attempt to perpetrate fraud on the fans was easily stopped with the friendly notification to the venues involved in the SOUL BRAINS tour, that the use of the name CRO-MAGS was not permitted by the owner. As of today, most of the venues are voluntarily pulling any current advertisements using the name CRO-MAGS. Their reaction to the issue was apologetic and immediate. They knew and recognized the ethical and legal position they were being deceived into being put in and expressed their shock and regrets.” – Parris Mayhew ‘01

Taking a look back at the Street Justice / Cro-Mags show, this video does a solid job of capturing the vibe and experience of a Cro-Mags show. The band rips through almost the entirety of Age of Quarrel, substituting “Everybody’s Gonna’ Die” (from the band’s 1985 demo) for “Seekers of the Truth” and adding a breakneck cover of “Blitzkrieg Bop”. Both Rocky and Gary are solid players in their own right, so the absence of Parris and Mackie isn’t that noticeable.

The show is filmed with a single camera from above the crowd so I'd have to guess this was filmed from the soundboard loft. The sound is clear but the mix is "off" as Gary Sullivan's drums and Rocky's guitar are too high in the mix while John's vocals are too low. The reality though is that none of this matters as the Cro-Mags were all about aggression, energy and attitude (which is well documented here) and this is what they sounded like from the crowd on any given night.

Included as a bonus feature on the disc is a full set from Harley’s War which was filmed during the final days of CBGB at the “last hardcore matinee” (where the bill also included Agnostic Front,Murphy's Law and Sick Of It All). The show is well filmed and looks and sounds great. Harley is a solid front-man with a great voice for the music and Craig Ahead (from SOIA) joined the band for "Hard Times". The set includes a mix of Cro-Mags songs and tracks from Harley’s War debut CD. Here is the full track list:

1 – Intro > Sign of the Times
2 - World Peace
3 - Show You No Mercy
4 - Malfunction
6 - Days of Confusion
7 - Street Justice
8 - Survival of the Streets
9 - Don't Tread on Me
10 - Do Onto Others
11 - Fuck the Middle East
12 - Down But Not Out
13 - It's The Limit
14 - Crush the Demonic
15 - Life of My Own
16 - Hard Times
17 - We Gotta Know

Other bonus features include Harley giving a tour of post-closure CBGB, Harley and his son in a pre-show warm-up and two live videos ("Life On My Own", "Down But Not Out") from 2002 when Harley's War first got started.

From this corner, I’d love to see one final Cro-Mags tour with the AoQ lineup. Harley’s been trying to bury the long-standing beef between band members but it sounds the likelihood of a full reunion is comparable to “hell freezing over”. A couple years back Harley posted: "Growin' up everyone has favorite bands that break up, and as fans, everyone always wishes they would reform or do a tour, and the fans don't care about the beefs, they just want the band back together. Very seldom do you have the opportunity to make a lot of people happy with one simple act. But unfortunately, it is not all that simple. People have a hard time growing up and old beefs die hard.

One can always hope though….

Harley's Cro-Mags Site
Parris' Cro-Mags Site
John's Cro-Mags Site