Suffer (album)

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Studio album by Bad Religion
Released September 8, 1988
Recorded April 1988
Studio Westbeach Recorders, Hollywood
Length 26:14
Label Epitaph
Producer Bad Religion
Bad Religion chronology
Back to the Known
No Control

Suffer is the third album by American punk rock band Bad Religion, released on the Californian independent record label Epitaph Records on September 8, 1988.[1] It was the first album that was both released and distributed by the label. Following the release of the EP Back to the Known (1985), Bad Religion went on a temporary hiatus, then reunited with its original members and went to work on its first full-length studio album in five years.

Although Suffer was not charted in Billboard, it has been cited by some critics as one of the most important punk rock albums of all time.[2][3][4] A plethora of third-wave punk bands cite Suffer as a major inspiration, including NOFX's Fat Mike, who called it "the record that changed everything."[5] NOFX later referenced the album with their 2001 EP, Surfer.

The songs, "You Are (The Government)", "1000 More Fools", "How Much Is Enough?", "Land of Competition", "Best For You", "Suffer", What Can You Do?", and "Do What You Want", are all fan favorites, and a few of those are staples of their live show. The only song from Suffer that has never been performed live is "Part IV (The Index Fossil)".[6]


Bad Religion was formed in Southern California in 1980 by vocalist Greg Graffin and guitarist Brett Gurewitz. The pair hired Jay Bentley on bass and Jay Ziskrout on drums and began writing songs. In 1981, the band released their eponymous debut EP on the newly formed label, Epitaph Records, which was and continues to be managed and owned by Gurewitz. In 1982, the band released their first full-length album, How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, gaining the band a sizable following. During the recording of that album, Ziskrout left the band and was replaced by Pete Finestone. After experiencing more lineup changes and releasing their second album, Into the Unknown (1983), to lukewarm response, Bad Religion called it quits in 1984.

In 1984, Greg Hetson of Circle Jerks fame, who had played the guitar solo for "Part III" on How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, teamed up with Graffin on the song "Running Fast" for the soundtrack of the film Desperate Teenage Lovedolls. Soon after, Graffin reassembled Bad Religion with Hetson replacing Gurewitz, who had gone into rehab for his drug problem. Bad Religion returned to a somewhat mellower, rock and roll version of their original sound with the EP Back to the Known (1985), but disbanded temporarily soon after.

By 1987, Gurewitz had cleaned up his drug issues and struggled to find some kind of employment. After taking some vocational courses and a raft of odd jobs, he became a studio engineer and owner of a recording studio. Gurewitz noted, "I really enjoyed, still enjoy, being a recording engineer, but I had a terrible time trying to make any money. And my hours were horrible. I just knew I wanted to be in music. Then, in 1987, Bad Religion said, 'Hey man, why don't we get the group back together?".[7] After Bad Religion finally reunited, they began writing new material and entered Westbeach Recorders in April 1988 to record their next album. According to Gurewitz, the album took eight days for the band to record and mix.[8]

During recording sessions, the band even demoed a revamped version of "Fuck Armageddon...This Is Hell", a track previously released on How Could Hell Be Any Worse?. Whether they intended to include the song on Suffer is unknown and most unlikely.[9]

Members of L7 (who released their first album on Epitaph the same year) played on the record. Donita Sparks and Suzi Gardner played guitar on "Best for You"[10] and Jennifer Finch sang back-up vocals on "Part II (The Numbers Game)".[11]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[12]
Robert Christgau (B)[13]
PunkNews 5/5 stars[14]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[15]
Spin 7/10[15]

The album received critical acclaim, Robert Christgau gave the album a "B" saying; "This comeback is hailed as a hardcore milestone, probably because it's coherent. Relatively sane as their bitter analysis is—and I mean relative to both hardcore despair and mainstream complacency—it sounds a little pat. As if they're already a little slow for speedrock and don't want to upset the apple cart."

The album also received acclaim by the following magazines:

  • Alternative Press (3/02, p. 96) – Included in AP's "Essential Punk Influences '02 Style" – "...Their definitive album....they'd never eclipse this fireball of creative energy."
  • Kerrang! (p. 51) – "[With] sonorous, soaring vocal hooks. The melding of power and melody proved a statement of absolute power."

In a fan poll, "Do What You Want" was cited as one of the best Bad Religion songs of all time, along with "American Jesus" and "Along The Way." Rancid's Tim Armstrong has said that "What Can You Do?" is his favorite Bad Religion track.

In 2006, Suffer was ranked as the top punk album of 1988 on Sputnikmusic.[16] The album was also named the 99th most influential rock album of all time by Kerrang! magazine. As of May 2010, it is #2550 on Rate Your Music's Top Albums of All Time list and #49 on their Best Albums of 1988 ranking.[17] It placed at #6 on LA Weekly's "Top 20 Punk Albums in History".[18]

To celebrate its 250th issue, German music magazine Visions asked 250 famous musicians across all genres of rock music to review the one album that musically influenced them the most. Both, Fat Mike of NoFX as well as Chuck Ragan of Hot Water Music chose Suffer.


The album cover features a drawing of a teenager on fire wearing a T-shirt of Bad Religion's crossbuster logo, designed by Jerry Mahoney. The person on the cover has been taken by the band as a mascot, "Boy on Fire" is the name and can also be seen on Bad Religion accessories, including T-shirts. The cover art was also parodied for NOFX's Surfer EP, which depicted a surfer on fire.


The information regarding accolades attributed to Suffer is adapted from[19]

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Soundi Finland The 50 Best Albums of All Time + Top 10 by Decade 1995 35
Rock Hard Germany Top 300 Albums 2001 222

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "You Are (The Government)"   Graffin 1:21
2. "1000 More Fools"   Gurewitz 1:34
3. "How Much Is Enough?"   Gurewitz 1:22
4. "When?"   Graffin 1:38
5. "Give You Nothing"   Graffin, Gurewitz 2:00
6. "Land of Competition"   Graffin 2:04
7. "Forbidden Beat"   Graffin, Gurewitz 1:56
8. "Best for You"   Graffin 1:53
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
9. "Suffer"   Graffin, Gurewitz 1:47
10. "Delirium of Disorder"   Gurewitz 1:38
11. "Part II (The Numbers Game)"   Gurewitz 1:39
12. "What Can You Do?"   Graffin 2:44
13. "Do What You Want"   Gurewitz 1:05
14. "Part IV (The Index Fossil)"   Graffin 2:02
15. "Pessimistic Lines"   Graffin 1:07

Release history[edit]

Label Release Date Notes
Epitaph Records September 8, 1988 On the CD version, the inside cover features an image of a groupshot of the band behind CBGB. On the vinyl version, the same image appears on the back cover. The inside cover also features the lyrics written on the wall of an empty room where Greg Hetson's SG is towards the doorway while a pair of Converse and a leather jacket are hanging on the door knob. The head of a Rickenbacker 4001 (which belonged to Jay Bentley) also emerges from the hole in the wall. Jay once said that the empty room used to be his bedroom at his mother's house.[20] Also on the CD version, the back cover features the credits and the band members are listed next to the groupshot the band.
Epitaph Records April 6, 2004 Remastered along with How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, No Control, Against the Grain and Generator.



  1. ^ All Ages (liner notes). Bad Religion. US: Epitaph Records. 1995. 86443. 
  2. ^ "Suffer CD – Bad Religion Store". Kings Road Merch. 
  3. ^ "Prindle Record Reviews – Bad Religion". 
  4. ^ "Bad Religion – "Suffer" ::". 
  5. ^ "S&M Airlines | Albums | NOFX". Retrieved 2012-03-11. 
  6. ^ "Bad Religion Tour Statistics". Retrieved October 2, 2015. 
  7. ^ Diehl, Matt. My So-Called Punk. St. Martin's Griffin, 2007. ISBN 978-0-312-33781-0, p. 39
  8. ^ Brett's commentary on recording Suffer (listen to it here [1])
  9. ^ "Bad Religion – Fuck Armageddon...This Is Hell (Demo)". YouTube. January 28, 2010. Retrieved 2012-03-11. 
  10. ^ Best For You | The Answer | The Bad Religion Page – Since 1995
  11. ^ Part II (The Numbers Game) | The Answer | The Bad Religion Page – Since 1995
  12. ^ Allmusic Review
  13. ^ Robert Christgau Review
  14. ^ PunkNews review
  15. ^ a b "Suffer". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  16. ^ "Highest Rated Albums: 1988". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved November 11, 2006. 
  17. ^ Main Page for Bad Religion's Suffer at Rate Your Music
  18. ^ "Top 20 Punk Albums in History: The Complete List". LA Weekly. July 10, 2013. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  19. ^ "List of Suffer Accolades". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 2007-08-08. 
  20. ^ "Suffer (album) | The Answer | The Bad Religion Page – Since 1995". Retrieved 2012-03-11. 

External links[edit]

  • Suffer at YouTube (streamed copy where licensed)