FEBRUARY ISSUE REVIEWS
First album in 25 years from Leeds punk veterans.
Subtitled ‘When the punks go marching in volume 2’, in tribute to their debut album from back in 1982, the Wheels could always knock out a cracking sing-along chorus with ease and nothing’s changed. There’s a fierce punch to songs like opener ‘Fight The Enemy’ and ‘Nothing To Lose’, which Rancid would be proud of, but they also showcase a sensitive side on ‘Soldier’s Prayer’. Singer Shonna may now be in his forties but he doesn’t sound any less angry and the dual guitar attack gives him a perfect platform to show it. It’s a real achievement that ‘Skum’ fits in so snugly with today’s punk scene. Definitely worth that long wait.
Acca Dacca box set bonanza!
If you want AC/DC’s blood, well with ‘Backtracks’ you got it! The ultimate ‘DC box set experience, it features 3 CDs of live and studio rarities, a vinyl LP of studio collectibles, a coffee table book, plus a ton of memorabilia and fine art lithographs. Live tracks are included from 1977 (‘Dirty Deeds’) right through to a 2000 recording of ‘Safe In New York City’, while studio rarities include the seldom heard, early pop sounding ‘Fling Thing’. The DVD includes the previously released ‘Crown Jewels’ collection of promo videos through the years and a complete live show from Munich in 2003.
This is definitely the ‘DC’s dog’s bollocks and will be eagerly welcomed into any fan’s home this Christmas!
Eugene Big Cheese
LIFE GOES ON
(People Like You)
Clockwork punks still cutting it.
Ipswich outfit the Adicts formed in 1976, originally with unwise names like the Afterbirth and the Pinz, before releasing debut ‘Lunch With The Adicts’ EP in 1979. When the UK82 wave of punk came, the Adicts were more than ready for it, becoming one of its top acts, and the original line-up are still with us. ‘Life Goes On’, their latest studio album, throws up 13 playful, perfectly executed tracks of mostly glammy pop punk, but there are some surprises. ‘The Gangster’ is spookily brooding, while ‘Mr Hard’ is like something from the movie ‘Cabaret’. But don’t worry, the boys still punk-out on the likes of ‘The Full Circle’ and ‘Tuned In’.
VICTIM IN PAIN
Re-issued lost hardcore classic from one of NYHC’s finest.
Long since out of print, Agnostic Front’s classic debut album ‘Victim In Pain’ gets dusted down and revamped in time for its 25th anniversary. This is brutal, no-nonsense New York hardcore played the way it was meant to be. Classic tracks like ‘Your Mistake’ and ‘United And Strong’ still stand the test of time and, although the production has dated the venomous songs haven’t. Big up to Bridge Nine for making this available again with bonus tracks and a particularly lovely limited vinyl edition.
Finnish punk ‘n’ roll jokers.
Yes, you get exactly what you expect from a name like that. Unsurprisingly, Anal Thunder don’t take themselves too seriously and it’s too their credit. With 12 years, over 300 shows all over Europe and 6 releases under their belts, they’re writing exactly the kind of music that they want to, whether it’s the spoken word “fuck you!” of ‘The First Song Of The Album’, the raucous ‘Deaf Or Dumb?’ and ‘Freakshow’, the stupid Euro dance-mocking ‘Dance Motherfucker’ or the anthemic closer ‘Liquid Face Lift’. If you like Bowling For Soup and The Dwarves then check this out. It’s not big, it’s not clever but it’s damn fun.
PLEASE TAKE YOUR CASH
Image-conscious, eclectic punks.
Not to be confused with US Hardcore types Anti-Product, this London based bunch of nutters have been around since 2000, but ‘Please Take Your Cash’ is only their third full-length album. Not that they’ve been idle during that time, oh no. They’ve toured hard, racked up a slew of singles, EPs and DVDs, and generally put themselves about with a variety of increasingly bizarre publicity stunts. This is a strange mish-mash of punk, glam, pop and metal, with growly boy vocals and sometimes soaring, sometimes shrieking girl vocals, that somehow manages to sound futuristic and old-school at the same time. Plenty of terrific songs, too, like the Wildhearts-esque ‘Arms Around The World’ and anthemic ‘Best Day Of Your Life’.
DEAD TO ME
Hit and miss second album from San Francisco punks.
Three years back Dead To Me released the anthemic, gruff bu melodic debut ‘Cuban Ballerina’ and now they’re back and they’re quite a different beast. With vocalist/guitarist Jack Dalrymple taking a break from the band (he’s recently become a father), they recorded this record as a three-piece. With guitarist Nathan Grice joining vocalist/bassist Chicken on vocal duties, he adds a slightly cleaner, classic melodic punk sound to the likes of ‘Nuthin Runnin Through My Mind’. While ‘Fell Right In’ and ‘Modern Muse’ are rousing D4-esque sing-alongs and ‘X’ is a nice dub opener, there’s definite Clash worship here. The album sags and closer ‘Blue’ is pretty dull. It’s a decent record but not the triumphant return many were hoping for.
Reprobate rock ‘n’ roll in a Damned/Dead Boys mould.
A snot-nosed outburst of brothel-creepered punk from the unapologetically trashy DeRellas, ‘Hollywood Monsters’ is a B-flick take on the vintage punk sound, leaning heavily towards the amphetamine snarl of the Damned. In fact, Brian James might well check his pockets if he’s ever in earshot of some of these boys’ guitar licks, but there’s no harm in a bit of sincere flattery. The DeRellas are hardly rewriting the rulebook here, but in terms of sneering high powered riffery, these boys can certainly cook it up. The perfect soundtrack for a sweaty night in a hot basement, the DeRellas are proudly keeping it young, loud and snotty.
EDDIE AND THE HOT RODS
THE SINGLES COLLECTION
Pub/punk rock legends’ finest.
Never mind post-punk, the Hot Rods were pre-punk. Major players in the mid-‘70s pub rock scene, along with Dr Feelgood and Joe Strummer’s 101ers, they embraced punk when it came along and expanded their sound accordingly. ‘Get Out Of Denver’, recorded at the Marquee in London, gives a flavour of why they had such an excellent live reputation whilst the classic ‘Do Anything You Wanna Do’, which broke the top 10 in 1977, highlights them at their peak. The later singles suggest it was the right time to call it a day in 1981. A great introduction to the band (who are touring and recording again) or a worthy addition to the collection.
B-SIDES & RARITIES 1994-2005
(People Like You)
The second most famous rock ‘n’ roll act from Norway to the mighty Turbonegro, Gluecifer trailblazed their brand of no frills rock from 1994 until splitting in 2005. Not a million miles away from Scandinavian neighbours the Hellacopters, their early releases were also on the White Jazz label. And now, as a bit of a late swan song, we get their 18 song b-sides and rarities from PLY. Kicking off with the total riff-o-rama of ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’, Gluecifer never reinvented anything, but they played with such full-on conviction, attitude and power it’s impossible not to come along for the ride.The likes of ‘Shitty City’ and a revved-up version of Cheap Trick’s ‘Surrender’ show that the band were far from done upon their split. I for one will miss ’em.
Eugene Big Cheese
THE JIM JONES REVUE
HERE TO SAVE YOUR SOUL
(Punk Rock Blues)
Stompin’ singles comp from Jim Jones’ rock ‘n’ roll powerhouse.
If we’re in any danger of disconnection with rock ‘n’ roll’s primal essence, it’s up to the likes of the Jim Jones Revue to put that right. This 8-track round-up of the Revue’s singles so far is a succinct reminder of rock ‘n’ roll’s true purpose – staying up late and behaving disgracefully. Infused with the no-half-measures conviction of Jerry Lee Lewis and James Brown, ‘Here To Save Your Soul’ comes lurching at you red-eyed from some Soho doorway and breathes bourbon fumes in your face. It’s not pretty, but by God it’s necessary.
NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM
(12 Step Plan)
Fresh skacore from the seaside.
This seven-piece skacore/punk band from Brighton unveils this ripping debut EP, mixed and mastered by legendary producer Dave Chang, who has worked with the likes of Capdown and Lightyear. And it’s a stunner. Opener ‘Scream Your Dreams’ demonstrates the skills of each member in the band beautifully, including funky saxophone and trumpet solos. Their upbeat skacore is dynamic and socially aware but, but perhaps more importantly, fun and different. ‘Novus Ordo Seclorum’ is thoroughly enjoyable to listen to and certainly far more than junk. In fact, this could be the start of something very special. Check out a track on this month’s Big Cheese covermount CD.
TOTAL MADNESS –THE VERY BEST OF MADNESS
All the singles. All the videos. 100% Madness.
It’s hardly surprising that with the commendable success of ‘The Liberty Of Norton Folgate’ (which reached #5 in the charts back in May), ‘80s ska giants Madness would quickly follow up with a ‘best of’ compilation. Spanning the band’s entire 33 year career, the album features all of the single releases, from playlist toppers like ‘One Step Beyond’ and ‘Baggy Trousers’, to tracks like ‘Bed And Breakfast Man’ and ‘My Girl’ that you’ll forget you forgot. But I don’t need to sell Madness here: you’ll either be a lover or hater. Perhaps the accompanying bonus videography will tip the scale a little.
MISSION OF BURMA
THE SOUND THE SPEED THE LIGHT
Legendary alt-rockers return.
There can be no doubting the influence that this band has had on the world of alternative rock since the heady early ‘80s post-punk days. Their varied material and intense live shows have always helped them stand out in a crowded field. We have seen many a band from that era become irrelevant or just run out of creative steam. No such problems for MOB who still sound as exhilarating and vital as ever. Again plotting a somewhat chaotic course through the more experimental end of alt-rock here, we wouldn’t want it any other way. A genuine artistic triumph.
A BOY IN A MAN’S WORLD/ NOW
Frat boy punk rock re-issue that certainly shows its age.
Considering the most interesting thing about Mucky Pup was that their guitarist Dan Nastasi went on to play in mid-‘90s rap-hardcore outfit Dog Eat Dog, it’s a bit of a surprise to find the band’s first two albums, from 1989 and 1990, being given a re-release. Even though they’ve joined the seemingly endless list of hardcore bands going on reunion tours, there’s still not much here to make ‘A Boy In A Man’s World’ and ‘Now’ worthy of your attention. Both records are characterised by puerile lyrics and knock-about punk-funk-thrash, sounding not unlike a Beastie Boys-meets-Fishbone mess. Even more underwhelming in 2009 than they were first time around.
COKIE THE CLOWN
The punk rock jokers return with a 5-track EP.
Featuring 5 songs recorded during the ‘Coaster’ sessions but didn’t make the record “cuz they were too good!”, these tracks as always combine NOFX’s sense of humour with their ability to write driving melodic punk tunes. ‘Cokie The Clown’ is the best track here, a fast-paced song with both Eric Melvin and Fat Mike singing and lyrics about a drug-obsessed clown, portrayed by Fat Mike on the cover. It’s surprisingly varied, with pop punk (‘Straight Outta Massachusetts’), fast and dark skate punk (‘Codependence Day’) and an emotional and surprisingly sincere acoustic version of ‘Coaster’ album track ‘My Orphan Year’. This EP (also available as two 7”s) is another reminder of why these veterans are still going strong.
A refreshing slice of nostalgia from Stock melodic punks.
Forming in Barlaston, near Stock, in 1990, Reverse split in 1997, leaving behind a musical legacy that sounds as fresh and inspiring today as it did twelve years ago. Containing elements of Snuff, China Drum and a touch of Leatherface (the band would even record a session with Frankie Stubbs shortly before breaking up), the likes of ‘Two Rooms One Door’ and ‘Stem The Slide’ are rich with melody and emotion, straddling the fine line between tuneful and gruff. Fronted by Nick Sharratt, the man himself has provided Damaged Goods with a full history of the band that helps make up the ‘Glance Sideways’ package along with unseen photos and a complete discography. A nice package for an unsung band that are well worthy of your time even now.
TRAPPED IN A SCENE: UK HARDCORE 1985 – 1989
The volatile and varied UKHC sound documented.
Influenced by everything from the UK82 sound, the DIY anarch punk movement and the thrash/hardcore punk crossover scene, the UK hardcore scene of the ‘80s was an incredibly varied melting pot of energetic and raging bands. This excellent compilation from Cherry Red throws together 31 bands from some of the scene’s finest and most definitive acts (with a mix of classic and obscure songs), including the seminal Napalm Death, Nottingham’s Heresy, melodic hardcore sound of The Stupids, Extreme Noise Terror, Long Cold Stare, Paranoid Visions and many more. This is an exhilarating compilation capturing the sounds of a vibrant underground.
UNDER THE RADAR
1976 punk legends still buzzin’.
Showing no signs of running out of batteries, 1976 100 Club punk legends the Vibrators release their 18th studio album just in time to tour the UK and Europe. The 14 songs contained on ‘Under the Radar’ prove there’s plenty of life in the band yet. From the zombie-loving garage stomp of ‘We’re The Dead’ through to the classic ‘77 sounding punk of ‘Darkness Before Dawn’ and ‘Nightmare Town’, original members Knox and Eddie, plus bassist Pete and former Members guitarist Nigel have released an album every bit worthy of the band’s 33 year legacy. In fact, the searing guitar of the former Members, um, member on ‘Under the Radar’ really adds to the album’s urgency and, with an overall ‘60s feel, it looks like the Vibrators still mean business.
Eugene Big Cheese
LIVE AT THE ROUNDHOUSE LONDON 2008
CD/DVD document of Poly Styrene’s long-awaited return to the stage.
We’re currently spoiled for choice with punk reunions but the unexpected reactivation of the ‘Spex last year was particularly poignant. While illness and paranoia might have contributed to the band’s implosion back in 1979, the Roundhouse show seems to have proved a happy occasion – a relaxed and smiling Poly Styrene leading her band through an extensive chunk of their catalogue. The savvy humour of tracks like ‘Oh Bondage Up Yours’ and ‘The Day The World Turned Dayglo’ still burns brightly. A brace of rare numbers along with the inclusion of a quality DVD of the show makes for a doubly desirable package.