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Fugazi, Steve Albini, and John Cassavetes walk into a studio…

In Hear ThisA.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing.

According to a recent in-depth interview with Steve Albini (which can be heard right here), Fugazi initially intended to record only demos with the producer, but decided at some point before arriving in Chicago that they were going to actually make 1993’s intense, excellent In On The Kill Taker with him. But Albini tells Vish Khanna, “They weren’t quite as ready to record the album as they thought they were… and the recording that we did of that session was probably not my finest hour in the studio. They were absolutely right to re-record that record.” Still, the seven songs that have made the bootleg rounds—usually referred to as Albini Demos, and very easy to track down—should be massively interesting to Fugazi fans, even if they’re not as powerful as the versions later recorded by Ted Niceley and Don Zientara. 

The demo version of “Cassavetes”—Fugazi’s homage to the uncompromising film director and kindred spirit—sounds particularly raw in Albini Demo form: It has more primal energy but less precision, with booming drums taking over the mix. (It wouldn’t be crazy to call these Fugazi’s grunge mixes, though that also surely has something to do with the fact that the MP3s available on the Internet are compressed and were almost surely never mastered.) But the song itself, as with the other demos here, is still magnificently powerful. (To find it, just use Google, then buy one of the Fugazi Live Series shows as penance.)