The Wards, Reagan Dead Wards Alive | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

The Wards, Reagan Dead Wards Alive 

Album Review


(Self-released, CD)

“We are the Wards, we play punk.” Such is the sneering opening salvo from Wards front man Tom Curley, introducing the latest album from the seminal Burlington punk band, Reagan Dead Wards Alive. Like the record itself, it is a straightforward declaration free of pesky contrivances such as subtext or irony. And, like each of the band’s sporadic releases since 1977, it is aggressively, defiantly lo-fi. The Wards have outlasted the Gipper, but it appears they still have some work left to do.

Clocking in at exactly one hour, over 24 tracks, Reagan is a blistering “fuck you” to … well, the same shit that riled up the band three decades ago. Ronald Reagan may be dead but, according to Curley and co., his evil legacy lives on. The ills that plagued us then — war, poverty, social injustice, yuppies — still do so now. Sadly, bands like the Wards will never run out of things to scream about. But, oh, how they scream.

“I may be old, but I ain’t shot down yet,” declares Curley at the start of “Shot Down,” just as the band explodes in a maelstrom of slobbering punk fury. The song is representative of the Wards’ ethos as a whole. Guitarists Franco and Chris Alley unleash frayed lines with ragged enthusiasm over rudimentary bass and Rick Lincoln’s frantic drums. Meanwhile, Curley snarls sub-melodically with an unhinged intensity double that of most punks half his age. It’s a sloppy, bracing mess — in other words, exactly what punk is supposed to be. Take notes, whippersnappers.

Reagan features a re-recording of the Wards signature anthem “Weapon Factory,” originally released in 1983. Though the titular General Electric plant is no longer in Burlington, time has hardly softened the song’s bruising impact. When Curley excoriates factory workers for taking coffee breaks in the midst of building weapons that “destroy the future,” it’s as poignant — that’s right, poignant — now as ever.

In an age when punk rock has been reduced to the milquetoast wailings of adolescent wannabes decked in Ramones T-shirts from Urban Outfitters, the mere fact that a band like the Wards exists at all is remarkable. That they would still be compelling and relevant 30-plus years after forming in the Queen City is a testament to the enduring promise of the genre. Or, perhaps, a sad suggestion that we never quite learned the lessons punk rock was supposed to teach us. At least we still have the Wards.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

More By This Author

About The Author

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles is Seven Days' assistant arts editor and also edits What's Good, the annual city guide to Burlington. He has received numerous state, regional and national awards for his coverage of the arts, music, sports and culture. He loves dogs, dark beer and the Boston Red Sox... more


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Latest in Album Review

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2022 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401

Advertising Policy  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  About Us  |  Help
Website powered by Foundation