Repeater is the full-length debut album by D.C. band Fugazi. It was released in 1990 on the Dischord label after the band had released the two EPs Fugazi and Margin Walker. These were later put together for the 13 songs album. It also marks the first record where Guy Picciotto plays guitar as he had been only contributing vocals previously. As well, the band was working on songs as a band now. Previously Ian Mackaye had written all the songs.
While not being a huge success at the time, Repeater is now considered to be hugely influential. In my opinion, it is a classic—an important part of music history. The list of bands influenced by what Fugazi was doing at the time is endless.
The album starts with “Turnover,” which sets the tone for the record’s sound. It features Guy Picciotto on lead vocals and sounds different from the songs on the first two EPs, which could be due to the whole band contributing now. The first time you hear Ian Mackaye singing on this record is on the title track “Repeater.” The big track on this side and the album overall is “Merchandise,” with its chorus of “We owe you nothing, You have no control!!” It really has the feel of an anthem. Next, we have “Blueprint,” which starts slowly but kicks in pretty hard when the vocals start.
One thing I really love about this record is the instrumentation. The guitar playing in particular is fascinating to listen to. There is a lot going on there.
Sieve Fisted Find on side two continues the onslaught. More great singing from Guy Picciotto and great guitar work from Ian Mackaye and Guy Picciotto. The album ends on a slightly slower but still intense track called “Shut the Door.” There is not a bad track on here, and it is a very cohesive sounding record.
I first discovered Fugazi in 1991. This is due to the fact their record Steady Diet of Nothing was included in Spin magazine’s top 20 albums of the year. It took me a little time to get my head around what Fugazi do once it clicked I was all in.
There were a lot new bands and music out that year, so it was a year of musical discovery for me. This list also introduced me to Mudhoney, Urge Overkill, Smashing Pumpkins, Hole, Massive Attack, and Teenage Fanclub.
Live Show and Personal Connection
I have managed to see the band twice, and the first show was special although I didn’t realize why at the time. I was excited to see Fugazi, and this was for the In on the Kill Taker tour. The band had two opening acts for this show in Vancouver at the Plaza of Nations. A holdover venue from Expo 86, now renamed expo gardens. The first act was Sparkmarker, a great band from Vancouver who definitely had the Fugazi spirit in their sound. The other band was Mecca Normal which is just two people, Jean Smith and David Lester, also a Vancouver act. So some great music there.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that the drummer for Sparkmarker was Rob Zgaljic, my neighbor when I was growing up. I discovered this when I bought the band’s 7-inch record Plug. He was the first person to introduce me to KISS and AC/DC. I managed to see Sparkmarker one more time. He was later in The Black Halos and currently is with Red Vienna. All good bands and worth checking out.
With all of that being said , you can check out my video on Fugazi’s Repeater as part of my Top 100 albums series below:
Dig this article? Check out the full archives of Surface Noise, by John Siden, here: https://vinylwritermusic.com/surface-noise-archives/
John Siden grew up surrounded by music from a young age. John’s father played guitar and performed in bars prior to John being born, and his mother also loved music. There was always music playing around the house or while driving in the car, mostly Country and Western on all forms, including vinyl, 8-track, and cassette. John’s first personal interest in music was piqued when he saw an ad for the Monkees TV show, featuring reruns, which as an eight-year-old, he had no idea these episodes were from the ’60s. This was John’s first musical obsession. Soon after, he was introduced to KISS and became a big fan. After the murder of John Lennon, the Beatles obsession began as John had not really heard much of their music up until then. It led to an education on the Beatles and the 60’s music as a whole. This occupied a lot of John’s teenage years. Following that, John got interested in all music especially Metal in the 80’s and Alternative/College type stuff later. Collecting records soon became his main hobby. In the ’90s when CDs took over, John still held onto his record collection, but just added a lot of CDs to the music collection, occasionally taking a special trip to record stores like Zulu records in Vancouver, which were hard to find at the time, and getting something special. John picked up the vinyl collecting bug again around 2013 when vinyl was making a comeback and a lot of bands were offering bundle deals on pre-orders where you would be able to get vinyl, CD, and a download code. Gradually more stores started opening up, and the addiction returned; vinyl collecting became a full-time hobby again for John. John’s interest in writing has been around for as long as Internet access has been a thing; he had a blog on Tumblr called My Diminishing Returns -John Writes about music, where he expressed his thoughts on music. Since 2019, John has had a YouTube channel called Surface Noise where he discusses music mostly focused on vinyl. John works in the security industry and also is an avid reader and lover of film. He also plays guitar and sometimes accordion.