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Top Sounds - Comps

Action Time Vision: A Story Of Independent UK Punk 1976 - 1979 {Cherry Red} Well, if this isn’t an essential purchase for any Punk, then I don’t know what is!! Cherry Red has really done a phenomenally great job here, presenting a 4-CD, 111 track box set of Independent UK Punk Rock from the first blast of THE DAMNED’s ‘New Rose’ through to the arse end of 1979. You get some absolute stunners here from those well known and not so well known alike: DRONES, COCKNEY REJECTS, JOY DIVISION, RUTS, DISCO ZOMBIES, KILLJOYS, ADICTS, SLF, RUDI, FLYS... The list is endless. Additional to the staggering track listing however is a 68 page, full colour insert giving release dates and essential trivia about each track and band, plus an introduction from former ZigZag editor, Kris Needs. As this features only those bands that went the independent way, you do NOT get any SEX PISTOLS, CLASH, STRANGLERS, GENERATION X, SIOUXSIE etc - and in many ways it’s all the better for it. Sure, from personal opinion there is the odd duffer - there has to be when you get 111 bands!! However, as documentation of how the original UK Punk explosion literally swept the country, this is unsurpassed. This is veritable proof that Punk was an entirely new youth culture, one that would have long lasting consequence and one that Britain so badly needed, both artistically and socio-politically. What’s more, these are fucking great songs - sure some bands here only did one EP, but what a cracker it was. Get my drift?? This is essential and certainly cheaper than tracking down all of these gems on vinyl. (05.05.17)

At The Heart Of What Is Wrong With The British Establishment {Orchestrated Dystopia} Eight band 7", with all tracks giving some kinda commentary on the British Establishment - with the Royals, quite rightly, in the firing line. Although there is a breadth of styles here, this is rooted pretty much in gnarly Hardcore with the likes of DIS-TANK (that do a frenzied, distorted blur that makes DISORDER sound like LAGWAGON), DOMESTICS, TWIN DRACULA and FEAR INSIGHT all churning out bitter, bilious Hardcore. Elsewhere we have SECOND IN LINE that do mid-paced Punk, OVERDOSE that do a VANILLA POD-gone-’77 thing, PUBLIC ORDER ACT that inject a bit of a CAPDOWN vibe and my favourite, KNOCK OFF that offer a sneering, snotty ‘77 style cracker with some great call and response vocals. More please! A neat wraparound lyrics sleeve, poster insert and a limited pressing of 300 make this a bit of a winner. (17.07.16)

Consolidated Record Label Sampler Summer 2015 {Self Destructo/ Strange Magic} Two labels unite to produce a 25-track, 70+ minute comp of fast, uncompromising Rock ‘n’ Roll. Plenty of highlights in the shape of AGAINST THE GRAIN, the wonderfully sneering JONNY MANAK AND THE DEPRESSIVES, CHUCK NORRIS EXPERIMENT, HIP PRIESTS, the pulsating BITCH QUEENS, CHANNEL 43, ADAM WEST and CUCHILLO. Sounds like both labels are a good match sonically, with Self Destructo going for a more heads-down, no fucking about, sneering rock approach and Strange Magic being a bit more Garage Punk/ Power Pop based. Packaging is virtually zero as is often the case with these things. If you’re putting an order in with either label, it would be wise to lay down a dollar or two for this as it introduced me to a few bands I want to hear more of, particularly those on Strange Magic as I’m not familiar with the label. If TURBONEGRO and THE EXPLODING HEARTS are frequent flyers on your stereo as they are at the House Of Scanner, this comp will have plenty on offer for ya. (31.10.15)

Dope Guns ‘n’ Fucking In The Streets Volume 1 - 11 {Amphetamine Reptile/ MVD} What a monster and completely awesome comp. If you didn’t know, ‘Dope Guns ‘n’ Fucking In The Streets’ was a series of 7" compilations that Am Rep started releasing back in 1988. This 47 track double CD collects the first 11 volumes and you get some crackers. Immediate hits are DWARVES, COWS, COSMIC PSYCHOS, GAUNT, GAS HUFFER, MUDHONEY, JAWBOX, CHROME CRANKS, SUPERCHUNK, ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT, UNSANE, JESUS LIZARD, BRAINIAC, TAD, TODAY IS THE DAY... Get the idea? Lots of great bands from the more discordant, grungy, noise-terrorism end of the Punk spectrum. All the covers get reprinted on the inner sleeve so you can see what volume your favourite tracks appeared on and there’s a history of the series written by head Am Rep honcho Tom Hazelmyer. The only negative is some rather lazy track listing has the last eight tracks on disc one listed as the first eight on disc two. A minor quibble but one that just sits a little uneasily amidst such a reputable label and formidable collection of bands and songs. (05.11.16)

Four Way Split {Dry Heave} Featuring FREEBASE, QUIET MAN, BLASTED and TEEF, this 15-track comp is certainly a gnarly, grizzled and fast expose of some of the bands in the current UK Hardcore scene. FREEBASE kick off and some how fuse IMBALANCE power with SICK OF IT ALL pace and growled vocals. QUIET MAN is one of the highlights doing some kinda down-tuned, epic TRAGEDY style HC coupled with a discordant Punk vibe and vocal that had me thinking RUDIMENTARY PENI. Check ‘Carcosa’ as one of the disc highlights. BLASTED is already a Scanner fave and drop another four ripping, face-melting, non-downtuned, non-growled vocal Punk crackers. The band has a vicious DWARVES meets FREEZE vibe here, especially ‘Cult Rituals’. The band’s 7" impressed and this is better still. TEEF bring the disc to a close with a gravel-vocalled, riff heavy sound that brought to mind ANTISCHISM and BORN DEAD ICONS with all songs lasting less than a minute. All in all, destructive stuff and impressive if you like your ‘core laced with a splash of metal riffage. (14.04.15)

Fat Music Vol.8: Going Nowhere Fat {Fat Wreck} Latest Fat Wreck sampler consisting of 25 tracks from the label’s current roster of bands. If you’re a fan of the label, there’s plenty here to please, be it the BANNER PILOT opener through TOY GUITAR, LEFTOVER CRACK, GOOD RIDDANCE, SNUFF, MORNING GLORY, CJ RAMONE and NIGHT BIRDS. There’s some great unreleased/ rare goodies too, in particular SWINGIN’ UTTERS and WESTERN ADDICTION unreleased tracks, and PEARS and NOFX rarities. Of course there are tracks that blow too - MASKED INTRUDERS vomit-inducing, cliched blandness, ME FIRST AND THE GIMME A BREAK, STRUNG OUT’s pseudo-metal bluster, MAD CADDIES limp Ska and, oddly, a let down from LAGWAGON with a track from the ‘Hang’ album that sounded a lot like Black Sabbath! The good stuff certainly wins out though and there’s a neat fold out insert with track details on too. A good starting point if you’re new to this Punk thang and Fat Wreck only means NOFX (or worse, ME FIRST.. (06.05.16)

Looking For Johnny: The Legend Of Johnny Thunders Original Soundtrack {Jungle/ MVD} The film (reviewed here) was superb and this double disc set easily lives up to expectations. Amidst the sprawling 30-track set you get THE HEARTBREAKERS, THUNDERS solo and with PATTI PALLADIN, and ACTRESS along with a few additional soundtrack tracks, most notably VIC GODARD. This is all about Johnny though and most of these tracks are culled from alternative sessions and out-take releases, with a few having never been released at all. In fact, the highlight of the whole set is a live, unreleased version of ‘Little Bit Of Whore’ recorded in 1985 in Switzerland that must be among the best live recordings of Johnny I have heard (and that’s a lot!). A full official release of that gig would be awesome! Elsewhere, there are alternative ‘L.A.M.F’ versions, a number of tracks from the ‘Que Sera Sera’ album and, like you couldn’t guess, I loved every minute! The only oddity/ negative though, is not a single NEW YORK DOLLS track. Not just a release for hardcore Johnny fans, as this would serve as a great introduction to the man’s back catalogue too - so for the Johnny-curious, get off the phone and go get this.

Mild In The Streets {Fat Wreck} Regular readers will know I’m a sucker for acoustic stuff. I firmly believe that the heritage of Punk - particularly that which is politicized - can be traced back to the likes of Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and the protest folk singers of yore. Seems the dudes at Fat Wreck agree cuz we got 17 acts here all doing acoustic stuff, some of which are unreleased. The title and cover artwork are a brilliant pastiche on the CIRCLE JERKS album too! Highlights? SWINGIN’ UTTERS, MORNING GLORY (with an absolute cracker), ANTI-FLAG and AGAINST ME! Of the unreleased goodies, there’s RUSS RANKIN of GOOD RIDDANCE, UKE HUNT (doing an inspired version of ‘Xanadu’!) and MATT SKIBA doing an unreleased take of ALKALINE TRIO’s ‘Continental’. Most impressive though is YOTAM BEN HORIN with the excellent, political ‘State Is Burning’. Elsewhere STACEY DEE gives us an unreleased song from the ‘Home Street Home’ sessions and the closer is an epic orchestral take of ‘The Decline’ performed by BAZ AND HIS ORCHESTRA. If this does but one thing, I hope it makes a few of those blinkered Punk kids realise acoustic music can be equally as valid as that which is amped and loaded. (31.10.16)

New Wave Of The Grave New Beat Vol 2, The {Our Future} Whopping 24 track, 66 minute compilation of bands playing some brutal and uncompromising sounds ranging from Metal-tinged Punk through to distorted, destructive D-Beat and flat out raging Hardcore. Most impressive of those bands include the forceful Metal-Punk of opener PRICE OF SILENCE, the brutal ‘core of ENDLESS GRINNING SKULLS, BOMBARDMENT’s female DISCHARGE attack, FINAL FUKKER’s total disregard for production values and come out sounding like nothing else on earth, ENTER OBSCURITY who take on ‘Grave New World’ and make it sound impressive and FIVE THOUSAND stealing the whole disc with their rolling, dark, powerful Hardcore and rendering many of the other bands typecast in their attempt to out thrash and out distort each other. Each of the 17 bands gets a page in the booklet and if you like you Punk/ HC distinctly DIY, relentless and heavy on the DISCHARGE and DISORDER influence with screamed and/or belched lyrics, then this should be your next purchase. If ya hoping for GASLIGHT ANTHEM blandness or ANTI-NOWHERE LEAGUE’s tired, dated pedestrianism, look elsewhere. (16.06.17)

Swanfest 2016 {Antigen} Few readers outside of Ipswich, England will be aware of the fact that The Swan is a pub in said town that has quite a stellar reputation for putting on cutting edge music. In July 2016, it held a three-day festival which, I assume, featured most if not all of the 16 artists on this compilation. It’s a diverse bunch of bands and solo artists with highlights being SUPERGLU, CATHEDRALS AND CARS that do something like PULP with more balls, THE THINKING MEN that come on all ‘London Calling’ CLASH before slipping into NICK CAVE world, the dreamy acoustic pop of JACK RUNDELL, the fuzzy, bristling Garage Rock of CLAWS that’s the disc highlight and JOHN CALLAGHAN that does something like THE CARDIACS without the guitars. Interesting and generally eclectic stuff but one that gives an insight into just why The Swan is one of the best places to go for music that takes a few chances. If you are ever in the town, make sure you pay it a visit. One thing is for sure, you won’t have to endure any Fleetwood Mac from the resident DJs!! (03.12.16)

Without Kibou There Is Nothing: Vol Four {Kibou} Final instalment of this gnarly series of multi-band 7"s. Of the nine bands here, highlights include THE DOMESTICS with yet another rager, RATS AS BIG AS DOGS that do a vague SHITTY LIMITS meets WIRE thing and probably land the prize for the EPs best track, the always impressive ACTIVE MINDS, the distortion blur of DIS-TANK and the brutal SLUG. Could’ve done without VIOLATION and POGO ASSAULT; I’m sure there are more interesting bands around than that in the UK. It’s pressed on sky-blue vinyl and includes a download code and comes packaged in a gate-fold sleeve containing lyrics and pics of each band. As with previous volumes, this brought a few new bands to my attention and if you are swayed by the D-Beat, think GAUZE is the best thing to ever come outta Japan and read Profane Existence, then you should be looking to purchase now. (04.07.16)

Hit HERE for material reviewed prior to 2015 including:
A Celebration Of Punk Down Under, Blood Sweat And Punk Vol. 1, Drop The Needle: Boston Punk Anthology, New Rides Of The Furious Swampriders, These Troublesome Thinkers, Without Kibou There Is Nothing Vol 1 and 2