THE ORIGINAL COWBOY
Cash-in release of the demo versions of the classic 'As The Eternal Cowboy' album.
While everyone waits with bated breath to see what's next for Florida punkers Against Me!, Fat Wreck have decided to release the demo version of their second album to ease the wait. This was originally heavily leaked on the internet and the buzz it created back then has deemed it worthy of release now. Surprisingly, for demo material, the production isn't half bad. Eight of the eleven tracks from 'Eternal Cowboy' are here in raw form, the only radical difference being that the version of 'Unsubstantiated Rumours' has an entirely different arrangement. This may largely appeal to the bands hardcore fan base but it is a classic album and having two versions of it in any record collection is fine by me.
RETURN TO THE PLANET OF THE BAKESYS!
(Do The Dog)
2tone-tinged joy straight outta Newbury.
Retaining a devoted following since their birth in the early nineties, Newbury ska revival masters The Bakesys, who included Pama International vocalist Finny and Do The Dog’s own Kevin Flowerdew on electric ivories, are back with an album of classics recorded live in Germany 1994, during the very peak of their moonstompin’ career. Chock full of 2tone upstrokes, ska swishes and chucklesome lyrics, The Bakesys (along with bands like The Loafers and The Hotknives) mark a period in ska history often overlooked between the fall of 2tone and the rise of ska punk. Highlights include the floorfiller ‘Sunnyside Up’ as well as a souped-up version of the Harry J Allstars reggae classic ‘Liquidator’.
WOMEN AND CAPTAINS FIRST/THE POWER OF LOVE
The good Captain's ‘80s chart hits.
5/5 / 5/5
If at least part of the reasoning behind Captain Sensible teaming up with producer Tony Mansfield was to show his more serious side, away from his day job with The Damned. This was soon scuppered when his cover of ‘Happy Talk became a massive novelty hit, topping the UK chart. Which is a shame, as these two albums from 1982 and 1983 reveal a superb songwriter, with their mix of 80’s pop, psychedelia and eccentric British whimsy. 'Glad It's All Over', from 'The Power Of Love', a breezy classic, was another Top 10 single, but it's surprising to note that the sublime 'Croydon' from 'Women And Captains First' never even charted. Approach with an open mind punks -there's much to be enjoyed here.
GIVE ME…A KEG…OF BEER.
Garage punk never sounded so good.
This has to be one of the best ‘60s garage punk albums that isn’t ‘60s garage punk album ever. It has everything that is great about the genre, wild, abandoned vocals, a beat that won’t let up and an organ swirling around those relentless guitars seemingly only held in check by the chanted backing. There are sixteen tracks that can be pretty much described in that way. All played and recorded in a style primitive enough to be authentic but cleverly enough to ensure it enhances the feel and not fucks it. You don’t need a keg of beer for this slab of wildness to whisk you off to an underground 1960s Go-Go bar, you’re already loving it. ‘Squares beware’ they warn. No need, as there’s none at this party.
POW! THAT’S KILLMUSIK 666. VOLUME ONE: REVISION
Music for the pit: the early years of a band remade.
In their three-year career Peterborough old skool crew Destructors 666 have churned out enough oddly titled EP’s and splits to fill a tidy space in any record store punk section (and that’s not to mention the roster of their 70’s incarnation the The Destructors). Many of these have sold out or faded into obscurity and that’s exactly where Pow! comes in. Cataloguing the earliest of the band’s recordings, along with six newbies thrown in as a treat, the album is boisterous, careering and unrefined: everything punk rock is supposed to be. Roll on volume two!
Sarah and Skip get busy blending.
‘Bitter Sweet’ is ten songs that power along, mixing female vocals with some serious skatepunk-esque drumming and riffage. Touring with the likes of Pennywise and Everclear seems to have left indelible influences, which blend well with the poppier melodies that are lobbed into the mix. The whole concept works well and results in an album that is excellent for what it is. The trouble is, there’s nothing new as such with the combination you get having been done plenty of times before… maybe not much better but before. With that in mind it is going to be hard work to stand out from the crowd judged just on ‘Bitter Sweet’ but if you are a fan of No Doubt you’re still going to like it.
RADIO NO GO
Cracking Clash-style punk.
It seems too easy to compare Electric River to the Clash and Rancid, but there's no getting away from such obvious influences. And while with a band like Strawberry Blondes it might be superfluous to mention both bands, with Electric River it's important as they manage to capture both the rougher edge of Rancid and more subtle nuances of the Clash. But having said that, this band are far from mere copyists, with the likes of 'Anita, Don't Cry', a pumping rock song with odd touches of swing and the chugging, brooding 'On Another Day'. But if it's '…And Out Come The Wolves' - style rabble rousing anthems you're after then the title track is for you.
THE GRIZZLEY ENDS
THE UNFORTUNATE DEMISE OF THE GRIZLEY ENDS
If only they'd done this six years ago.
I was going to tell you that this Guildford mob specialise in speedy pop punk of the kind perfected by Captain Everything, then a quick, um, squint at their website reveals that they have actually played with the wacky Watfordians (if there's any such word). And when I say super speedy, I ain't kidding - this 11 track album was over in the time it took me to pour a drink, find their website and type the above: 13 minutes and 14 seconds! The Ramones would have doffed their caps, had they possessed any. To take one example, 'Keep It Together' may clock in at just 1 minute 42 seconds, but it packs in all the essential elements of pop punk with style.
SPOILS OF WAR
Full-throttle pissed-off hardcore assault.
Featuring, as they do, members of UK hardcore legends Voorhees and Imbalance within their ranks, it’s no surprise The Horror deal in no-holds-barred, heads-down hardcore rage. From start to finish, ‘Spoils Of War’ is characterised by full-throttle, no-frills brutality that eschews any temptation to dabble in the murky waters of metallic hardcore and instead relies on sheer bluntness and speed to get its pissed-off point across. With lyrics taking in everything from social injustice to disgust at the political system, it’s obvious the anger driving this record is very much ‘for real’, and it sounds all the more essential for that. With 15 tracks belting past in frenetic fashion, there are no stand-out moments - ‘Spoils Of War’ is just great from start to finish.
OCD GO GO GO GIRLS
Fuzzed-out budget rock extravaganza.
Note the extra ‘Go’. And the extra V. Lovvers play from so down-on-deep in the basement, there’s a fuzz box on the vocals. Permanently. As a kind of sonic counterpart to the Mummies’ bandages, it’s a cloaking device that will admittedly bracket Lovvers as an acquired taste – unjustly so as there’s some righteous raw tuneage on offer here. Tracks like ‘Creepy Crawl’ or the aforementioned ‘OCD Go Go Go Girls’ are reassuringly replete with slashing guitars and humming valves, two-minute fifty-nine second teen-punk-pop bashalongs that recall the glory days of such figures as the Buzzcocks. A cracking follow-up to last year’s underrated ‘Think’ EP.
PAY THE CRIMES
Excellent debut and it’s all ours.
If I had the time to let this grow I reckon it would, in fact it is already and that’s quick. All the elements of a great punk album are there. The vibe is like a mix of The Gaslight Anthem and The Clash but before you dribble all over the page I’d have to add before either of them attained their ultimate greatness. The vocals are very British and the lyrics delivered passionately with choruses that will stick in your head. The pace is restrained but pummelling all the same and you get the feeling all hell could break loose at any minute before the pressure is off and the harmonies kick in, great stuff with greater to come.
1 2 3 GO!
Grade A Euro punk with XX chromosomes.
Female fronted punk can go either way: in some occasions it can be a credit to the genre and in others it can make you want to chew your own eyes out. Thankfully, Swedish punk rockers the Ninja Dolls fall into the former category and this, their sophomore effort, provides everything needed from a recording. Like the Bouncing Souls with a shot of Oestrogen: the drums are rapid, melodies creative and lyrics delivered with a smatter of satire. Songs like the bratty ‘Nobody’s Girlfriend’ and the anthemic Green Day-esque ‘Miss Young and Naïve’ stand above the rest, but to be honest, any of these fourteen tracks get a thumbs up in this reviewer’s book.
'80s style hardcore from members of NMDS and Municipal Waste.
Do you miss the raw yet melodic fast-paced hardcore of the likes of Dag Nasty, Gorilla Biscuits and the Descendents? Well so do the ex-members of Orlando, Florida's defunct New Mexican Disaster Squad (now in Virgins and Gatorface too). Joined by the distinctive and energetic Municipal Waste frontman Tony Foresta on vocals, No Friends are enough to excite the most jaded '80s hardcore fan, channelling the power, fun and honesty that's so often lacking in modern hardcore bands. Highlights include the anthemic 'You Have No Friends' and the Minor Threat-esque 'Set In Your Ways', both featuring gritty backing vocals from Sam Johnson. Although they're all in other bands, this storming debut album better just be the start for this supergroup. They won't have no friends for long...
THE SINGING LOINS
Touching folk-punk slices of English life.
Lifting the lid on the bubbling undercurrents of life in London and its home counties environs, Singing Loins operate a curious kind of semi acoustic post-punk cabaret. Unravelling England offers a highly idiosyncratic insight on Englishness, one that nimbly sidesteps the pitfalls of parochialism, much in the spirit of kindred rockin’ cockneys Ian Dury or Steve Marriott. The raw-edged urban-folk reels of ‘Dirty Dora’ or ‘The Fat Boy Of Peckham’ reverberate with warmth and wit, and the heart-sick laments of ‘Since You Were My Girl’ or ‘Everywhere’ are as human and touching as anything I’ve come by in a good long while. This is rag ’n’ bone folk ‘n’ roll with poetry and soul.
CREATIVE OUTLAWS: UK UNDERGROUND 1965-1971
Essential roundup of ‘60s Brit underground nuggets.
An intoxicating, if at times bewildering sweep through the mod-folk-freak scenes of the mid-to-late sixties UK underground, Trikont’s comp casts its net wide. Embracing the greats - Small Faces’ ‘Whatcha Gonna Do About It’, famously covered by the Pistols a decade later - cult favourites such as proto-punks John’s Children with ‘Desdemona’, featuring a young Marc Bolan on lead guitar, and outright curiosities like the Bonzo Dog Band’s ‘We Are Normal’. An eclectic collection, ‘Creative Outlaws’ showcases the radical, the subversive, the hip, the dippy and, inevitably, the brain-meltingly drug-damaged, without which this comp wouldn’t be the complete picture; good, bad and druggy, Trikont throw open the portals into a long-vanished but crucial musical scene.
THIS IS PSYCHOBILLY: 25 YEARS OF ROCKIN’ & WRECKIN’
Pure boneshakin’ music.
From granddaddies of the scene like The Meteors, Batmobile and King Kurt to mere fledglings like Judder and the Jack Rabbits, Luna Vegas and The Scourge Of River City: this three CD compendium from psycho merchants Anagram complies the cream (or should I say scream?) of the crop since the very birth of rockabilly’s evil twin. With sixty nine tracks of double bass pounding, guitar twanging malevolent fury and detailed bio’s of each of the players laid out in the accompanying booklet- can a bad word really be said? A must for any wrecker worth his salt and a great starter package for newcomers to the genre.