Review by Puszone (October/November 1986 Issue)
Even though the last release was not on Jeff and Ian's label, this one is, and again is one of those new breed bands with that obvious influence. Except this time, this band features ex-Minor Threat guitarist Brian baker and you'll hear that side. Even though there are many variations, a style is a style. The band is Dag Nasty, a hot D.C. outfit who feature Dave Smalley, ex of Boston's D.Y.S. on vocals, who pours out his heart with effective crooning that really picks up and brings this whole musical composition into its own. Add the booming bass bites of Roger Marbury and the head-pounding beats of drummer Colin sears, along with a superior production, you get Dag Nasty's debut ten songs album Can I Say. Very professional packaging brings you a lyric sheet of knowledgeable beliefs and expressions all well-written, put finely to the tunes and executed with a true passion. Take the straight driven attack of the melodic Dag Nasty sound with all the heart behind it and you're experiencing some pure hardcore in every sense. A dash of speed, a lot of harmony and fill the rest with dedication and Dag Nasty break down the walls. On Dischord.
Review by Fourfa.com
Dag Nasty - Can I Say LP/CD (CD includes later "Wig Out at Denko's) [Dischord Records, 1985]. Musically, this is fast melodic punk but the vocals are *so* heartfelt and emotive, and the lyrics *so* unrelentingly introspective and hopeful.
Review by Randall Helmstutler / Satan Stole My Teddybear
Can I Say : Ah, the roots of emo-core. This is one of those albums that only comes along once every few years, where every single song is a gem. This is an essential addition to anyone's record collection. The intensity and passion in Dave Smalley's vocals on this record have made him a standard punk reference under the file "influences." Brian Baker's guitar work is an extension of his Minor Threat sound, but if you think this sounds just like a Minor Threat album, you're not listening closely enough (this is a frequently encountered criticism of this record, and not totally unfounded). This virtually started emo-core. The lyrics are driven by honesty and there are lessons to be learned about life and relationships in every song. And these are not cheesy admissions of fault or revelations of crushes. Some classic lyrics: "Words would've made a difference but they always stayed unsaid"; "I should've realized you were running in circles, I let you lead when I knew damn well you were blind"; "All these smiling faces have lost their shine". Especially lyrically strong are "Circles" and "Never Go Back." If you like the DC sound, you will like this. This record is too fundamental for it not to be possessed by every fan of underground music.
Review by Unamerican.com
Dag Nasty: Graham Spencer, ringleader of the boys who created the Excite search engine, made this as a tape for me, and I am oh so thankful. Dag Nasty was pure. They wrote punk that promoted the idealism, the tenacious belief in being as courageous as possible in a world that doesn't favor you. If you need confidence, this will give it to you.
Review by vegiman / "Can I Say" why this is so good?
Circa the mid-80's, after the legendary debut of the early Dischord scene, a band called Dag Nasty released an album that captured the vitality and energy in a very similar form. While bands like Rites of Spring who existed in a similar time had a more forward looking sound, Dag Nasty was mid 80's hardcore at its finest.
The keys to Dag Nasty were Dave Smalley and Brian Baker. Dave migrated from Boston where in he was part of that city's straight edge lineage with bands such as DYS. His lyrics and singing conviction made this album what it is placing it on the hardcore map as one of the greatest of all time. I would even say it made the Dag Nasty stamp more of a part of Dave's resume than his earlier Boston bands, strange when you consider that people are usually known for the first band they were in. All subsequent Dag Nasty albums were Dave Smalley-less and all subsequent Dag Nasty albums sucked. The band he has been with for the longest since, Down By Law, has had its moments but is still not that wonderful.
The other key to Dag Nasty was Brian Baker's guitar. The pure power that we experienced in Minor Threat is very evident on this album. You will definitely start a circle pit in your living room, well at least if you are about 16 and hearing it for the first time. This also represents perhaps Brian's last honest effort as he fell off the wagon soon after (read: grew his hair, joined the butt rock generation; ever hear of Junkyard?) He later went to play for Bad Religion in their less than worthy times. As a Dischord worker told my friend Glenn, ³Brian likes to paid to play his guitar².
I always think of Dag Nasty in the same breath (think, breath, ?) as Minor Threat. While these two bands are a generation apart (well, 2-3 years) if you like the legendary MT, this Dag Nasty album will be right up your all. Strong lyrics, power and conviction make this, as I said, an all time hardcore classic.
*btw, this would be a low 5 stars for those counting, unlike most people out there, I don't dole out praise like candy; Minor Threat is a high 5 stars, Dag Nasty a low 5 stars, but 5 stars nonetheless.
Review by Epinions.com - What no Shawn? by: smoll (Sat Aug 5 '00)
I can't say I know the entire history of Dag Nasty, but I know enough to say this album is one of my favorites of all time. Dave Smalley has an amazing voice and he uses it to his full potential on Can I Say. The other reviewer of this album slammed all other Dag Nasty albums and I just can't do that. If I had to choose one it would be Can I Say but Field Day was not THAT bad and Wig Out At Denkos I think is pretty good. Although, I do not play either of them very often.
Shawn Brown originally sang for Dag Nasty and I also think he is great but Dave Smalley was just a better fit. Shawn went on to sing for Swiz which is another amazing band.
I have always enjoyed the lyrics on this album. That probably drove me to love this more than anything else. Not only do they make you think but they seem to be timeless. There are bands I listened to in high school that I rarely listen to now because I can't relate anymore. This album isn't like that at all.
At the time I first heard this album it was very melodic and not as rough as most music at the time. Now everyone seems to have a melody but that's a whole other story. I think Never Go Back has always been my favorite song on this album but there isn't one that I don't like. It seems like Dag Nasty paved the way for other bands who wanted to slow things down a bit and do more than just yell. This album is for sure a must have for any fan of punk rock. I can't imagine life without these tunes in my head on a regular basis. This is by far Dave Smalley's best work, well and ALL. If you don't own it BUY IT.