Believe it or not, a few cool things did emerge from the anti-drug movement of the 1980s. There was that Diff’rent Strokes episode with Nancy Reagan, for instance, and some trippy Rock Against Drugs commercials. In the world of hardcore punk, meanwhile, circa 1981, the short-lived but influential Washington D.C. hardcore punk quintet Minor Threat inspired the entire substance-free “straight edge” movement with their music. Across the pond, almost perfectly concurrent with Minor Threat, a New York advertising firm called Saatchi And Saatchi conceived of McGruff The Crime Dog, a gravel-voiced, trenchcoat-wearing, anthropomorphic bloodhound who warned kids about the danger of booger sugar and sticky icky. Such an alignment of the stars cannot be ignored forever. Three decades plus later, a Boston band called XCrimedogX, featuring Daniel Danger of The Saddest Landscape, has recorded a hardcore punk tribute album in McGruff’s honor entitled 1984-1986.
That enigmatic name comes from the copyright date on McGruff’s Smart Kids Album, the anti-drug mascot’s one and only venture into the world of music. XCrimedogX has taken classic McGruff tracks, like “Make Your Body Last,” and reshaped them in the style of hardcore punk, supplementing the pooch’s “positive messages” with “brutal riffs.” The group’s own, self-curated mythology holds that McGruff himself is the lead singer, though it’s doubtful that 1984-1986 has Saatchi And Saatchi’s official stamp of approval. The entire album is available for purchase either digitally or on vinyl from the group’s BandCamp page. A sample track can be heard below:
And, just for comparison’s sake, here’s how “Make Your Body Last” sounded when the original McGruff sang it 30 years ago. The initial arrangement was a lot more sax-heavy and not quite so angry-sounding.