Better Than a Thousand – “Just One”

I’ve always had a sort of fascination with the straight edge/posi-core scene. Not because I have any experience with it other than what I’ve read, but because what I’ve read intrigued me. The idea of a community oriented, positive punk movement is contrary to the way punk has been portrayed (often falsely) in the media, and it’s obvious that many of these straight-edge fans are articulate and thoughtful… though sometimes they can come across as dogmatic about their message and lifestyle, just like their peers in other subgroups.

When I bought Just One I wasn’t familiar with Better Than a Thousand. I knew they were punk, but that was about it. It was in doing some reading prior to listening to this album for the first time that not only was it a side project that took on a life of its own, but also that Better Than a Thousand was a straight edge/posi-core band. I mean, singer Ray Cappo is involved in the Hare Krishna religion and apparently works as a yoga instructor. If that’s not pretty straight edge, I don’t know what is (recognizing, of course, that those things hardly “define” the straight edge movement).

So what about Just One? Well, as near as I can tell the initial release was around 2,600 copies, with close to 600 on clear vinyl and the rest on black (like mine). Released in 1997 by Revelation Records, the 12 tracks on Just One are musically excellent – this isn’t just a bunch of noise played really fast and loud, but instead legitimate and structured songs that have different sounds and flows (there’s even an instrumental called “Sunshine” – I can’t think of too many punk instrumentals…). It’s certainly hardcore, but you can still clearly hear and follow the lyrics, something that tends to get lost with a lot of fast punk bands. And if there’s anything you can’t make out, the guys from Better Than a Thousand included a lyric sheet, which makes a lot of sense given that they’re trying to convey some positive messages through their music.

And I’m sorry for the apathy,
And I’m sorry for the lethargy,
Won’t let it get a hold of me,
Cause I won’t settle for mediocrity.

This is one I may need to burn from vinyl to mp4. I like what I hear from Better Than a Thousand, and frankly I’m too cheap to by it on CD/digital download when I can just rip it right of the record. It’s good music with a good message, a somewhat rare combination these days, and one worth listening to more.

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