'Another Fine Day' (nra80cd) CD 1999
From the bad to the ugly! God I fucking hate this uninspiring, safe, session musician guitar drivel!!! A type of music that has that tired pansy vocal harmonizing and ultra melodic feel about it all over the place! This ain't fucking punk...it can't be!!!! 13 tracks of unusually safe rock, especially for the ugly mug shots who sing and play on it. You'd expect that these world weary fuckers would have some great street story's to tell us instead of middle aged and sanitised sonnets, that have as much to do with punk as U2. There ain't no real anger here and there ain't no scorch mark identity that could make this band stick out. In fact Badtown Boys seem a pretty faceless bunch. This music don't show no character as far as I can see, and I've played the fucker a few times hoping I'd missed something but apparently I ain't. On a good point It's played well and they know their instruments but I'm afraid play- in instruments well does not always signify great punk rock you need something more. 'Another Fine Day' is just too fucking squeaky clean and too well rehearsed!!! Sack the singer, lose some weight, get rid of the facial hair and try and capture that early spirit what got you into this fucking game in the beginning!!!! Badtown USA huh! PLASTIC. www.newredarchives.com
'God Bless Starjets Punk Collection' (ahoycd99) CD 1999.
First time I actually heard anything by this late 70's Belfast punk band. And I gotta say on this collection it's a pretty good diverse sound. Their style is straight from the early poppy side of the late 70's UK punk arena. Similar to the Skids if you want a rough comparison, but the Starjets had a lot more scope courtesy of duel guitarists/ vocalists...Terry Sharpe and Paul Bowen. They supply some great catchy power pop punk vocals that come in a crisp production in this their 21 song repertoire. You can see why record giants Epic snapped em up! They were classed in some punk circles as the Bay City Rollers of punk! Which is understandable with their youthful boy next door looks and clean cut vocal harmonies. Take 'Run With the Pack' as a prime example. You can sniff they were going all out for the bigger chart success, which sometimes got em giving us really throwaway ballads. This CD won't attract the noise boys out there but if your a punk with a penchant for more melodic punk outtings then this on further listening will actually have you hooked. But by far the Starjets best attributes were their splendid anthems like on 'What A Life'. It's got great chorus and guitars attacks. They also know how to change style with ease and on the sugar coated intro to 'Smart Boys' which gives it a really sickly sweet feel you think oh noooo but before you chuck the CD in the bin it quickly turns into a smart little new wave number that actually fucking works! The Starjets have the knack to create addictive tales through their songs of life amongst the back- drop of troubles, especially with songs about love across the divide. Which 'I'm So Glad' that has a brilliant lyric of "Religions in our way, Ignorance Is tragic, I've even heard them say, Cupid was a Catholic" and the optimistic 'War Is Over' along with the brilliant 'War Stories' single that reached the UK charts back in 1979. They have harmonies that the boy bands of today would kill for but instead of manufactured kids and samples singing em you've got punks from the war torn streets of Belfast with duel guitars and addictive rifferama kicking off in the background, these songs are actually real. 'Shiraleo' was another hypnotic singalong blast and the last record to be released under the
Starjets tag. They changed their name to Tango Brigade when co-singer Paul Bowen left and released the atmospheric 'Donegal' and 'In Vain'
45 which seen em disappear.Yeah Northern Ireland had a knack of producing snappy exciting punk bands and although the Starjets are probably more poppy than most they are well WORTH A LISTEN
'Speak Up Brown...Your Mumbling'
(hsI14) CD 1999
This Stoke band are a hard bunch of straight, misfits to weigh up? First and foremost their pop punk attitude is a hard one to get round in the Wolf's Lair, I can tell ya. Call me glum or moody but I wanna be entertained not nullified by throwaway poppy songs. It just don't do it for me! This bright, happy, false feel to their music just grates with me. And those comedy vocals make this an odd 16- song collection. What Destination Venus do have going for em is a good powerful duel guitar sound, and of course they don't take themselves too seriously! Which is good. They have a handful of catchy numbers and 'Speak up Brown...' does get slightly better with more plays. They seem to be living out their Stoke On Trent fantasy on this CD. A dream-world of birds, booze and surf. Which to anyone who's ever had the misfortune to visit the grey inbred streets of Stoke will know that ain't nor could ever be true. Crabby the quirky vocalist pours out his heart on getting a bird, going down the match and loads of other lighthearted observations, in tracks like 'Ist time', 'Dweeb' and
'Suckers'. Their best songs were probably the football rousing 'Saturday' and the infectious 'He Goes Everywhere', about a stalker (snigger). At least they pick a couple of varied covers to bang out with that oldie 'Spaceman' and the Clash's
'Capitol Radio'. Destination Venus are a bunch of seasoned sensibly dressed blokes who can play their instruments, know a tune or two and can belt em out as good as the next. But as I said this type of jokey punk doesn't really get me motivated at all and leaves ya with an AVERAGE sounding album.
HIGH SOCIETY RECORDS
'The Punk Collection'
(ahoycd102) CD 1999.
I was well impressed by this UK band from the dark distant days of the late 70's. I always remembered seeing their name supporting the bigger guns at London's Lyceum back in heady 1980's, but never actually got to hear em until this come through the post. From the first track 'Inside Out', which I vaguely recognized from some long lost John Peel show many moons ago, I knew these were gonna be more than just a name. It's one of those songs that sticks to you like a beggar in a pub, but you just can't put a name to it. So once those crashing power chords and well timed halted punktuations kicked in, it bought it all back. I was shocked to read in the sleeve notes that these had been around in one shape or form since '76! , Before they fizzled out somewhere in Europe circa 88! They were never big news amongst the then cliquey London punk music media, coz coming from the wrong end of the country (Blackburn to be precise) had big disadvantages...mores the pity. The Stiffs represent a type of punk that's probably associated with melodic new wave by today's brutal standards. But don't get the wrong idea, coz the Stiffs have a fucking powerful motor running under their well composed addictive bonnet. And as some disc jockey who once referred to em as being "the Slade of the 1980's" was never taken seriously, on this 20-track slab it's pretty well founded. Phil Hendriks lead vocals/guitar ain't no guttural Noddy Holder, but he does have a hard, no-messing powerful vocal to trade off with the crunching but articulate dual guitars.They also have a strange Glitter band sound as well in a few of the songs, which don't sound half as bad as it reads. Especially on the atmospheric 'It's Not Rock 'n' Roll' with it's echoing "Hey" chants and the big beefy Phil Spector sound alike of 'Yer Under Attack'. They do slow things down on their more commercial attempts in songs like 'Affairs Of The Heart' which don't really do much for em, unlike their more energetic numbers...'Volume Control' and the classy 'Innocent Bystander'. The Stiffs live up to their name and know how to create a dog rough glance at the opposite sex in what's gotta be a love song, dare I say it! Yeah in today's punk circles it's sacrilege and pretty hard to find a song like this but 'Goodbye My Love' is similar to the Star Jets in the way they can really pull it off without it being naff...pardon the pun. You can also tell by any band who sing about guitars (Lurkers/Guitar Gangsters) etc. that they have a love affair with em and like the Lurkers maybe that's why the Stiffs never really connected with an audience on a bigger scale, coz they were just yer average Joe off the streets who played sweat ridden, loud, rock 'n' roll that was too powerful or fiery to be categorized under anything else but punk. Probably their best song if not the catchiest came via the infectious '(Bring On the) Chelsea Girls' that could've stormed the charts easy with the right backing. The Stiffs made a comeback at this years Morecambe all-dayer so I dunno how that went?, but with songs like 'Inside Out' and 'Chelsea Girls' I bet they were worth seeing. So check this out if yer can coz it's well WORTH A LISTEN The Stiffs or
'The Boys' (ahoycd101) CD 1999.
Another rerelease here from the UK's Captain Oi! stable, and this time it's The Boys debut album (plus bonus tracks), which was first released in the summer of hate 1977. The Boys however were pretty much classed as second division punk compared with the bigger guns of the Pistols and Clash. They also had bad luck with the original release due to some fat fucker called Elvis kicking the bucket!, so this got pretty much ignored by the music press when it hit the streets. And to tell you the truth, they had far too few really standout classics cuts amongst their set. But with hindsight this a great collection and shows us just how good the smaller, lesser known original UK punk bands actually were. The Boys always had a heavy rock 'n' roll feel to their sound particularly with Casino Steels piano, and this for me is their only detraction. Gimme an organ but a piano just don't cut if for me. They do however use it low in the mix which I think was planned to give em more edge. And along with some great cocky vocals, supplied by Kid Reed and Matt Dangerfield make this album worth your attention. I do like the way they have clever simple lyrics that portrays a lifestyle of sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll...and of course being skint which added that real life touch to em. This band were a groupie magnet by all accounts and unlike the boring straight- edge punks of today who are more prone to a life- style of papal proportions they certainly had a few songs up their sleeves about their shagging, drinking and drug exploits. Songs that were dead witty without being blatantly sexist. Their best track on this album and probably in their entire career is captured in the classic second single 'First Time' , all about losing your cherry! A slow but powerful addictive number with it's fatalistic "Oh Oh Oh Oh" chants on the chorus secures em a place up there with the best of em. Another favourite was 'Cop Cars' with it's typical '77 police siren of wailing guitars in the background and of course 'I Don't Care' for obvious reasons.The Boys had some great catchy ditties on this release and although they ain't all out and out classics there ain't really a bad track amongst em, and there's fucking 22 to choose from. They end the collection with the hilarious 'Worm Song' , an adaptation of some old nursery rhyme, which they released under pseudonym the Yobs for Xmas 1977. Great sleeve notes and lyrics. Definitely a UK CONTENDER for this prime slice of punk history. Captain Oi! Records
'Channel Fiction' (tv99) CD 1999.
French TV Men have always had a shoddy reputation, so why name your band after cunts like that eh? Well this version of TV Men have been around a few years now and they play rock 'n' roller kinda punk in an Iggy & The Stooges vein, which ain't bad in places, but those god awful broken English vocals read positively like an 'Ello Ello' sketch! So forget the lyrics coz they mean fuck all...this is a band who sing about macho lovers, porn mags and being chased by the FBI (snigger). It's the duel guitars that sustain the Asheton breaks and vibes but it all seems so ordinary in the long- run coz nothing at all on here grabs ya. The whole 9 tracks leave a pretty lame taste in your mouth. They do a Supersuckers theme song which will win em no favours but it is probably the most lively song on the CD! On the whole though this is just like being witness to demos from a Stooges tribute session but without Iggy and Ron Asheton of course. Not bad, but not good either just fucking AVERAGE I guess. Mass Production Records.
THE PILLAGE PEOPLE
'Attack of the Blood sucking Retards' (oinko11) CD 1999.
These are fucking mad, goofy and very funny on this their debut album of curiosities. 'Attack Of The
Bloodsucking Retards' is like taking a ride through the subconscious of some pissed off lunatic. They have captured the burlesque humour of the
Dead Kennedy's and the looniness of a zombified Dickies in attitude and style. The only thing missing is tighter arrangements, but that's a minor detail cos this 15 song slab of entertainment is a rare find in today's punk scene! It's got no boundaries, no regimented formula and most of the tracks come at you from completely different angles. Quite a surprise too considering it's out on the ultra 'street- punk' label Oink! Records. But a welcome one!
The Pillage People (great name) kick off with the addictive 'Hey Koolaid Man' that's an energetic ghost-ride through South American government crimes and conspiracies and is probably their most addictive song on the album with it's chanting chorus. I also love the cryptic organ that makes an appearance at timely moments on this platter. This band ain't scared to experiment too. They're definitely not for those of a nervous disposition as the intro to 'Gas Chamber' proves! It's good enough to put the biggest serial killer off a murderous spree! The song topics are across the board which I like and cover such suburbanite topics as Jail addiction, sperm, high school killings and waste disposal cover ups which gives it a comical but diverse feel. The Pillage People who hail from the car jacking capitol of the US (Delaware) are fucking certifiably mad as hell but have fun doing it which in turn makes it fun to listen to coz they have a great novel way of dishing out their punk tunes. They opt for the more traditional punk blasts on 'Waste Of Sperm' that has a good solid punk riff running through courtesy of co- songwriter Rahne Pastor who also produced this set of morbid curiosity. No morals in a punk band is a redeeming quality and sadly missing in today's climate, but it gives these jokers that extra edge. If you can't point out some of life's facts why bother? Most of the songs are wrote by the deadly duo of Pastor and lead singer Aric Calfree who looks like Jello Biafra circa '80 on the cover shot. So maybe the resemblance ends there...coz the humour certainly don't. This bands seeps humour like the sewers in Royston Vasey, and in the same black kinda way. Take 'Dead Rock Stars' which is a rundown of the fatalities in rock with the classic line of "Easy E was felled by Aids, I hope the rest use razor blades' (snigger), which sums this album up. They also do a funny version of that old sixties hit 'The Blob'. That great cheesy organ rears it's ugly little head one more time on the penultimate track 'Life Is Ugly So Why Not Kill Yourself' which boasts some fucking nutter letting rip over a pumping organ. The Pillage People just basically take the piss but it's done with very sharp originality! Check these out coz they are sick, mad and insane just like all good punk bands should be. US CONTENDER $12.00 Oink! Records PO Box 27813, Washington, DC 20038, USA or
'Left Opposition' (haus029) CD 1999.
Fast manic depressive, powerful political hardcore here with local angry bastards Assert from Telford. First time I'd heard these on vinyl and have only just seen em in a live situation, which was a bit disappointing. No confrontational outbursts, no bashing around the walls that I had heard they were capable of. But to be fair to veteran singer Britt who was spewing up prior to the gig, he wasn't in the best of health! But back to the album, yeah this is a real surprise for me. Assert have their own sound if that's possible in the straightedge UK hardcore scene and that's mainly down to Britts vocals. They are pretty unique, a sort of Lemmy crossed with Leon Trotsky, if you get my meaning? Angry and determined with a snarl that sets the songs apart from the hounding pack. I somehow couldn't get into the pseudo-intellectual lyrics that read like they are from a Socialist Workers mag. But hell I'm just another dumb white suburban punk! Although Assert's Sinister and O'Sqeel (bass and guitar respectively) have sussed out how to change guitar gear in mid-song without it becoming a chore to listen to, the sometimes tinny drum sound and that hardcore stop/start structure that this type of punk seems bound to, leaves me feeling frustrated. Lets hope the new drummer-boy from Wolves can show em the light! 'A.T.V.' is one of the standout tracks to shout about..."the Alien box in the corner", followed by the anti-labour 'United Colours' which is my favourite track along with the pounding 'Statement Of Intent' , all about working class solidarity. Fucking hell the working class hate each other where I come from! I couldn't take a double album of this rhetoric though, coz there ain't one glimmer of humour in or around this band. They are just too fucking depressing which adds to their intensity but leaves a monotonous atmosphere in the air. 'Left Opposition' is definitely music to man the barricades with or to play before your going into the ring. But to listen to this for pure punk entertainment or fun leaves me cold. Maybe I'm an old cunt with no stamina anymore but it would be good to hear these make a joke song, just for the crack! But I doubt that chief tyrant and Assertive revolutionary Britt would let his shield drop or stand for that kinda nonsense within his band. WORTH A LISTEN just for the intensity coz you certainly won't need an ice pick to make your ears burn with this album. £8.50 ppd UK, $12.OO ppd rest of the world from Household Name Records at
Demo Tape 1999
These are a young trio of kids from up in Scotland. So maybe they can learn something before it's too late to realise this dross ain't gonna do us or them any favours. From the opening chords this six-track demo sounds like indie rock! Which is the harbinger of doom for this punk rock web site. And no I won't and fucking will not condone indie rock in any shape or form. It's like a bad form of the pox, it's gets all over the place and needs radical disinfection right now! Talk about dreary and depressing with that Kurt Cobain heroin feel hanging around on tracks like 'Acid Rain'. No this is too bland and too fucking student for my senses. They had one good guitar riff on the last track
'Sticky Hippy' but that ain't gonna save this from the pit of banality. File under NO FUTURE for you!
I lost their address but it's alright boys, I don't wanna embarrass you any further OK! NEXT!!!!