1988 – 1990: The Middle Period (The Transitional Era)

The year 1989 was a pivotal one for Anarchy. In the weeks following their first official gig, Reel became disenchanted with the band and quit. Baker and Potts continued to rehearse, learning more cover songs and writing more originals. With Reel's departure, the band's music began to shift from a punk/hardcore style to a more accessible rock style. While this shift alienated some early supporters, it garnered many more. The change in direction was motivated by a number of factors. One factor was Baker and Potts' dissatisfaction with the band's limited success and the dearth of opportunities to play music in the punk/hardcore genre. Baker and Potts concluded that by playing more accessible music they could get more gigs and, thus, have more opportunities to showcase their original music. Another factor was that Baker and Potts' musical tastes were changing. Baker had become interested in the early alternative music being played on college radio stations in other regions of the country and in classical and jazz music. Potts had become more interested in music by groups like the Beatles and Rolling Stones.

Cover songs by groups like Sex Pistols and Motörhead were replaced with songs from acts like Styx, Deep Purple, Guns N' Roses, and Rainbow. The original music began to shift direction as well. Most of the early punk/hardcore original material was dropped from the set lists, with a few exceptions early on like the catchy earworm "All I Want." In the new original material, the crunchy, distorted guitar sounds were still there. However, the tempos were more subdued. New songs like "Dead and Gone" and "Far Away from Here" showcased Anarchy's softer side, demonstrating a "cleaner" guitar sound with arpeggiated chords. Not surprisingly, the band began to explore the use of deeper, more pensive lyrics. Angst-filled lines like "screw all the politicians" gave way to "I remember yesterday, and what you used to say. Now you're so far away, far away from here." Later on, during this period, the band began experimenting with alternative music. Baker wrote early versions of the band's alternative classics "Turn to Me," "Dying to Meet You," and "Lonesome Road," which would later become the title track of the group's regionally successful alternative rock album. Baker and Potts also collaborated on The Cure inspired tune, "By My Side," with Potts writing the lyrics and the majority of the music. Even though the original music dramatically changed direction, dark lyrical themes continued to dominate: Shattered relationships ("Lonesome Road"), the longing to be reunited with a deceased loved one ("Dying to Meet You"), and the emotions and feelings of the terminally ill ("By My Side").


Flyer for a Middle Period show.

Around this time, Baker created Anarchy's famous, or perhaps infamous, Beethoven Medley, as a nod to the Rainbow classic "Difficult to Cure." (Baker was a great admirer of Ritchie Blackmore.) This instrumental piece was a hard rock tour de force of some of Beethoven's more well-known works. Kicking off with the opening bars of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, the piece then morphed into the theme from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony ("Ode to Joy"). Finally, the song concluded with a 4/4 time, rocked-up version of "Für Elise." The Beethoven Medley added to the band's credibility as a serious musical act and was a sincere tip-of-the-hat to the late composer and his glorious music. Collectively, the group felt that this piece was an important musical showcase, and consequently, it was performed at nearly every subsequent show.

Due to the various changes in musical direction, the band's set lists during this time could be quite diverse, perhaps too diverse. In retrospect, the band may have been, knowingly or unknowingly, struggling to find a new identity while attempting to meet contrariant demands: Playing more popular and accessible music; writing new, interesting original material; increasing the band's musical credibility; and keeping some connection with its past. For example, a set list might contain one or two tunes from the band's early punk/hardcore years (e.g., "All I Want"), popular rock hits of the day (e.g., Guns N Roses), classic rock tunes (e.g., Deep Purple), the band's new hard rock and alternative rock material (e.g., "Dead and Gone" and "By My Side"), and classical music ("Beethoven Medley"). The band once even did an extended jazz improvisational piece where the band members played multiple instruments, including Potts on trumpet and Baker on tenor sax. With all this variety, one would be hard pressed to say who was more confused — the band or the audience.

In the early summer months of 1989, drummer Nathan Stuffel joined the band. Baker and Stuffel, both sophomores at the same high school, had known each other since elementary school. Stuffel's love of classic rock coincided nicely with the band's new direction. Additionally, Stuffel's easygoing, laid-back persona, Baker and Potts would learn, was in sharp contrast to his aggressive, four-on-the-floor playing style. His playing would come to provide a solid backbone for their music.

In the later summer months of 1989, more changes occurred. Through mutual friends, Baker and Potts became acquainted with Aaron Crosby. Crosby, a 15-year-old guitarist who could also sing, proved to be a great addition to the band. The addition of another guitarist/singer enabled the band to perform the wider variety of music it was now pursuing. Moreover, since there was now a guitarist who could play backing chords and keep rhythm during the guitar solos, the music now had a fuller sound. This newer, more "commercial" version of Anarchy helped the band win new fans, gained attention from the local press, and piqued the interest of one man in particular, who would be crucial to the band's snowballing success.

Baker's father, whom the band simply referred to as "David L.," began taking an active interest in Anarchy. As Anarchy's manager, David L. created performance contracts, handled publicity and press releases, and booked several shows. Due to their ages (Potts was the oldest and was barely 18), the band was unable to get bookings at local bars, which was just as well since their fan base was primarily junior high and high school kids. It took a lot of creative thinking on the part of David L. to find, and book shows where Anarchy could play and their fans could attend. In true Anarchy form, they found success through unconventional ideas.

Beginning in fall of 1989, Anarchy played its first of nearly a dozen teen dances at the local Y.M.C.A. David L. was always careful not to book a show at the Y.M.C.A. on the same night the local high schools were hosting a dance. This strategy proved to be very successful. Many local residents still remember attending Anarchy's dances when they were teens.

Home Early Period Middle Period Final Period Conclusion

Audio Files

MIDI Recreations


MIDI recreation of "Wings of Eternity," a heavy metal-style song that emerged during the early middle period, showing a more sophisticated sound (composer: Baker)

MIDI recreation of "Tides of War," a heavy metal-style song that emerged during the early middle period, showing a more sophisticated sound (composer: Baker)

MIDI recreation of "Watcher in the Woods," a later, heavy-metal style fan favorite (composer: Baker)

MIDI recreation of "Coming Home," illustrating an evolution of from the "happy hardcore" sound to a more accessible rock round (composer: Baker)

MIDI recreation of "Worlds Apart," illustrating an evolution of from the "happy hardcore" sound to a more accessible rock round (composer: Baker)

MIDI recreation of "If You'd Shut Up," illustrating an evolution of from the "happy hardcore" sound to a more accessible rock round (composer: Baker)

MIDI recreation of "Bad Attitude," illustrating an evolution of from the "happy hardcore" sound to a more accessible rock round (composer: Baker)

MIDI recreation of "European Song," illustrating an evolution of from the "happy hardcore" sound to a more accessible rock round (composers: Baker/Potts)

MIDI recreation of "Highway Man," illustrating an evolution of from the "happy hardcore" sound to a more accessible rock round (composers: Baker/Potts)

MIDI recreation of "Razor Blade," illustrating the band's brief flirtation with goth music (composer: Baker)

MIDI recreation of the beginning "Dead and Gone," illustrating a middle ground between the band's punk/hardcore roots and the later alternative sound (composer: Baker)

MIDI recreation of the famous instrumental ending to "Dead and Gone," which starts off with a catchy ostinato riff, before Potts breaks into an improvised solo, showing off his guitar skills, periodically revisiting the main riff.

MIDI recreation of "Far Away from Here," illustrating the band's new, evolving alternative sound (composer: Baker)

MIDI recreation of "Turn to Me," illustrating the band's new, evolving alternative sound (composer: Baker)

MIDI recreation of "By My Side," illustrating the band's new, evolving alternative sound (composers: Baker/Potts)

MIDI recreation of the beginning of "Is Something There?," illustrating the band's new, evolving alternative sound (composer: Baker)

MIDI recreation of the ending of "Is Something There?," illustrating the band's new, evolving alternative sound (composer: Baker)