Why weren’t multinational punkers Toxic Reasons huge?

It’s a question I’ve asked myself many times over the years, and the conclusion I always come to is that they weren’t a band that was meant to be huge, preferring instead to stay away from the voracious maw of the American music industry and make music on their own terms. Which was undoubtedly good for the band’s collective sanity and integrity, but a massive shame for the millions of ears they should have reached but never did.

So it’s hats off to the Back On Black label for putting out this handy, seventeen track primer that’ll hopefully inspire you to do some digging around into the band’s quite superb back catalogue (they have also re-released five of the band’s full-lengths for your convenience and enjoyment – Ed).

The band were formed in Dayton, Ohio in 1979, though GBA doesn’t pick up the story until 1984’s Kill By Remote Control, which saw the band churning out a pleasing hardcore sound that’s very much of it’s time but still pretty exciting to listen to. The riotous Powercrazed mixes the Circle Jerks, Dead Kennedys and Motörhead in energised fashion, and still gets the blood pumping nearly forty years after the fact.

By 1985’s the band had made a bit of a musical volte-face – maybe another reason they never quite got as big as their promise suggested they should – developing a post-punk/new wave sound that was probably a bit too sophisticated for their underground following. That said, the bass-driven gothics of Then Came The Rain and It’s So Silly are still a pretty compelling listening proposition in 2022.

The band signed to legendary label Alternative Tentacles in the UK for 1986’s Bullets For You, which saw a general beefing up in sound and a return to the anthemic punk of their earlier efforts; Killing The Future is almost an Oi! track with it’s big bollocked chorus, whilst the stomping Breaking Down The War Machine, with it’s irresistible chorus and punk metal stylings is probably the band at their absolute best. The poignant Party’s Over brings in threads of the agit punk of New Model Army, and overall Bullets For You might be seen as the band’s most well-rounded album.

1994’s No Peace In Our Time saw the band returning to their US punk roots, the album’s raw production taking the listener back to the band’s earliest days on the title track and Up Ahead And Around The Corner.

With the addition of a couple of previously unreleased tracks, this is a fine introduction to the band if you’ve never heard them before, or a timely reminder of just how good they were if, like me, you’re a long term fan who hasn’t given their albums a spin in a while. Either way it’s a winner…

God Bless America is out now.