Maybe it's their inherently anti-establishment nature, but punk labels are usually so poorly run that they either bankrupt their artists, bankrupt themselves or both. Ironically, two of the most fiercely independent and artist-friendly labels -- Dischord and Touch and Go -- are also the two most resilient. But Dischord is the oldest, predating T&G by a couple years and, over the past two decades, setting the gold standard for creative independence, social integrity and, well, excellent punk rock. Originally slated for release two years ago (for their proper 20th anniversary), "20 Years of Dischord" is a triple-disc box set that celebrates that history in typically iconoclastic fashion. Two discs are taken up by one song each from the 50 bands who have recorded for the label, so yes, that means that all of the label's questionable signings (say, Fire Party) get as much recognition as true pioneers like Fugazi. And that opens the song selection to serious debate. But any self-respecting punk already has the tracks by Minor Threat, Dag Nasty, Government Issue and Jawbox that aren't here. The treasures are the third disc (23 unreleased tracks, an interview and six live video clips) and a hefty 134 page booklet that's more a libretto-length hagiography than standard liner notes with great, rare photos and (obviously) an in-depth history of the label and its bands. It's all packaged beautifully and respectfully and, of course, it's cheap too.
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