Wrecking Crew
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  • Vocals: Glenn Dudley
  • Guitar: Ralph Dinunzio
  • Guitar: John Darga
  • Bass: Keith Bennett
  • Drums: Taras Hrabec

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Balance Of Terror

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Wrecking Crew didn’t have an easy legacy to inherit.
They were all young’uns watching Boston Crew legends like SSD, Negative FX and DYS carve their respective names into the granite face of Massachusetts’ early 80’s hardcore Mt. Rushmore. Even some of the area’s best bands like the still jawdropping Siege or the Outpatients from Western Mass went virtually unnoticed in the shadow the shadow Boston Hardcore’s founding fathers.
Yet, by 1987, it was a new generation of kids that were showing up in the parking lot of the Channel club for Sunday afternoon Hardcore matinees. Guys like DYS’ Dave Smalley had moved back to his native Washington DC and joined Dag Nasty. Al “Lethal” from SSD had pretty much lost interest. Literally, just Negative FX’s Choke remained the lone wolf of Beantown’s early 80’s hardcore sect, wielding mic and hockey stick with Slapshot. There was a new generation ready to get off the stoop in Boston’s Kenmore Square (more specifically, the booths of the infamous Pizza Pad!) and show their hardware.
New kids. New scene. Hell, Wrecking Crew even had a song called “The New Crew”! Instead of continuing the Bostonian tradition of pulverizing power chords, Wrecking Crew looked first to British shores and the likes of Discharge, Tank and Warfare to root their sound. And Motorhead! Bassist Keith Bennett’s love for the work of Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister bordered on the obsessive. Add to that a huge dollop of the metal crossover sound then exploding in the New York Hardcore scene and the sound of Wrecking Crew was forged.
They were metalcore long before that sound became the province of Christian kids with smart haircuts.
With a solidified lineup including Bennett, guitarists Ralph Dinunzio and John Darga, drummer Taras Hrabec and vocalist Glenn Dudley, Wrecking Crew was off to stake its claim on the Boston hardcore scene. The debut show was on May 24th with Corrosion of Conformity T.T. The Bears’ in Cambridge Mass. A handful of area gigs led to the band hitting the studio in January 1988 and cutting 8 songs; four of which were released on a 7” through Slapshot drummer Mark MacKaye’s short-lived Vortex label. One of the songs from that inaugural session, a cover of Negative Approach’s “Tied Down” became a staple in the band’s stage pile-up-inspiring live set.
It was a trip to New York City to open for Cali straight-edge overlords, Uniform Choice at CBGB’s that caught the eye of Hawker Records’ A&R man John Bello. Sure, there was a bit of standoffishness from the native New Yorkers that Sunday afternoon as Wrecking Crew played over Warzone but the kids from Boston won the crowd over. And began a longstanding friendship with NYHC stalwarts like Agnostic Front as well as metal heroes Nuclear Assault and a bunch of poodle-heads called Anthrax.
Hawker, a Roadrunner offshoot (named that because RR owner Cees Wessels thought that was what John Bello was saying through his thick New Yawk accent when he said ‘Hardcore’) signed The Wrecking Crew that year and in 1989 released the band’s still one and only album Balance of Terror. Recorded at Boston’s Syncro Sound (the same studio that the Bad Brains recorded Rock for Light at), Balance of Terror captured the band’s energy and crunchtastic assault. It remains Wrecking Crew’s finest recorded moment – save for the fact that it has been out of print since its initial release!
Wrecking Crew’s one full-fledged US tour in 1989 for Balance of Terror had its share of high points – a Los Angeles show with DI, a gig in Lawrence Kansas with Toxic Reasons – low points, and a lot off days off in between. And a gig or two at a local pizza restaurant not to forget getting booked on a “battle of the bands” or two somewhere deep in the Midwest. One notable gig was at Berkeley’s Gilman Street Warehouse where upon finding out that Portland hardcore leviathans, Poison Idea, were playing in nearby San Francisco, the Wrecking Crew loaded up their gear and bolted across The Bay. The headliner at Gilman that night was a band called Green Day.
The Hawker label folded shortly thereafter for the same old reasons: lack of sales. There were a few notable releases on the Roadrunner imprint: a live record called Free for All, that was recorded at CBGB’s in 1989 featuring Wrecking Crew alongside the likes of New York’s Rest In Pieces, Token Entry and California’s kings of straight edge and controversy, No For an Answer. With the exception of a couple of Token Entry records, most of the records on Hawker were a financial bust: Philadelphia’s The Pagan Babies and Boston’s Jones Very being notable underachievers. There have been a few half-hearted attempts at reissuing BOT by a few grassroots labels. Unfortunately, until now, no one has actually attempted to strike any kind of deal with Roadrunner. Hence, Balance of Terror has actually been completely out of print and fading from Hardcore’s increasingly selective memory.
A compilation on Boston’s Taang! Label entitled Boston Hardcore 89-91--- was graced by a cover shot that featured Glenn Dudley onstage as well as two Wrecking Crew cuts: “Confusion” and a cover of The Battalion of Saints’ “My Mind’s Diseased”. Though the record was released in 1995, it documented a period in Beantown HC during which the Wrecking Crew was top dog. Fellow bands on the album included Eye for an Eye, Sam Black Church and one very young Only Living Witness (a band frequently cited as a huge influence on the hugely successful Bay Staters Shadows Fall and Killswitch Engage).
By '91, Wrecking Crew was going through it's own internal strife. The first blow came when a deal for a follow-up record with Biohazard's first label, Maze, came crashing down when the label folded. Add to that, the band became increasingly less enamored with Glenn's vocals, wanting a more versatile singer. In addition, John Darga was more interested in playing Rockabilly with ex-Jerry's Kids guitarist Bob Cenci in a sideband called The Rockats.
A new vocalist was eventually found in Nathan Elgin James with a succession of guitar players coming into and out of the band before future Sick of It All producer Dean Baltulonis became the man for the job. With the muscular, snarling James fronting the band, The Wrecking Crew did actually take a step forward. For better or worse, that lineup was soon to buckle under the sort of pressure and disatisfaction that most bands feel after a number of years and split in 1994. Dean and Nathan continued together in the more rock leaning 454 Big Block as well as the proto-emo crew, The World Is My Fuse.
The frontman is still active, having played guitar with Beantown straight edgers, Righteous Jams while also writing and recording solo material. He can also be seen along with footage of The Wrecking Crew in the first Boston Beatdown DVD. Baltulonis is the proprietor of Atomic Recording Studios in Brooklyn, NY and has recorded the likes of The Hope Conspiracy and Lifetime amongst countless others.
Now gone for over a decade, Wrecking Crew might be considered the glue (yes – an obvious SSD reference!) and spearhead for Boston Hardcore for many years. Clearly, time hasn’t forgotten the band with Massachusetts’ Bridge 9 label issuing a retrospective CD simply entitled -1987-1991 comprised of all the band’s recordings sans Balance of Terror.
With this reissue, consider Wrecking Crew’s legacy fully restored.

Mike Gitter, NYC March 2006

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