Assembled here are several "second division" punk groups i.e. not The Clash, The Jam or The Ramones etc. They are, in order - Penetration; The Ruts; Sham 69; The Rezillos; The Slits; Eddie & The Hot Rods; The Vibrators; The Undertones; X-Ray Spex; The Adverts; Generation X; 999: Wire; Altered Images and The Skids. At the end I cover some "also ran" singles from groups whose albums I have not reviewed....
This is one of the last pure, first wave, punk albums, to be honest, released just as as many of the original punk bands were turning towards new wave and/or reggae crossover material. This debut album is frenetic, harsh, tinny, riffy punk led by Pauline Murray's soaring, typically punk, rabble-rousing, wailing voice. It was also probably the last female-led punk album too. Siouxsie Sioux had already started to diversify into more sombre "post punk" by now. October 1978 was the month of The Jam's All Mod Cons and The Clash's Give 'Em Enough Rope, so, this album was, amazingly, already somewhat old hat. True punk really was short-lived. Listening to it now you can sort of understand why. Its short, sharp, buzzy and angry anthems were fine for one album, but not for much more, however edgy and wonderfully appealing they were in isolation.
Silent Community is an excellent, brooding, industrial-sounding number. Stone Heroes is an exhilarating Siouxsie-ish punky romp, with solid riffs and rolling drums. It is solid punk from beginning to end. Movement has an infectious opening riff to it and a strangely seductive vocal from Murray, with definite echoes of early Blondie in there. Too Many Friends has tinges of the white reggae that was de rigeur at the time, and some mysterious instrumental breaks. It is quite an inventive number, with some captivating guitar and bass breaks that are almost psychedelic or, dare I say it, proggy, at times.
Penetration played my local music club, Friars, Aylesbury many times. For more info on their gigs there, check out https://www.aylesburyfriars.co.uk.
It Was Cold has a rumbling bass line behind some crunching guitars and a vaguely Rolling Stones feel. It chugs on for quite a while, probably a minute or two too long, to be honest. The staccato Savage Circle sounds like something Green Day may have done some twenty years later. Like The Clash and Stiff Little Fingers, half way through the second side of their debut album, The Ruts included an extended reggae cut. unlike the other two, though, this was not a cover.
Jah War was an excellent piece of reggae, with some convincing Uptown Top Ranking-style horn backing and some good dubby passages. It is so evocative, and takes me right back to 1979. Superb bass on this track too. It suddenly ends after nearly seven minutes and the breakneck Criminal Mind gets back to punk essentials to get everyone pogoing. A sub two minute track after a long one, again, just like The Clash and SLF.
Backbiter has some good riffs and a rousing chorus. As I said, material like this is nothing special, but The Ruts have something that put them firmly at the top of the “best of the rest” pile. Out Of Order is an average punk rant as is the raucous, live recording, Human Punk, recorded live at London’s Marquee in July 1979. To be honest, though, punk like this was past its sell by date by now. The Jam had released All Mod Cons the year before, The Clash were in the process of recording London Calling and bands like Magazine were already “post punk” before punk had totally blown itself out.
Beloved of skins and oiks, Sham 69 just tried to "do it for the kids". This was something unique - perhaps the only punk "concept album". It is a series of connected songs based around the humdrum, working-class London life of an often disillusioned young man similar to the character of "Jimmy" in Quadrophenia. He is also called Jimmy on here, I believe (or maybe it's Joe). Lead singer Jimmy Pursey was not so subtly portraying himself. The songs are interjected with short vignettes of dialogue from the main character's domestic life. His mother was played by future East Enders actress Wendy Richard, known at the time for playing Miss Brahms in Are You Being Served? - "you bloody get upstairs and have a wash...". It has an excellent cover made up of contemporary newspaper headlines in collage.
On to the band. Sham 69 were an often shambolic, to coin a phrase, punk act. Their debut album, earlier in 1978, Tell Us The Truth contained some excellent, rabble-rousing anthems, especially the storming single Borstal Breakout, which is an essential inclusion in any "classic punk" playlist, for me. The Kids Are United was another wonderful tub-thumper of a single. I saw them live in 1979 and they were great. One of the most viscerally exciting punk gigs I ever saw. Unfortunately, they started to attract a neo-Nazi skinhead audience which eventually did for them. Bookings dropped and the always emotional Jimmy Pursey became frustrated by it all, claiming he "just wanted to do it for you kids out there...I'm just doing it for you...". Packing it in a few years later, he seemed a bit of a broken man. This, though, was his finest moment.
That's Life is a solid, riffy punk stomper. It has the main character bemoaning his lot, playing the victim. It is never his fault, of course. He then blows his last wage packet on a winning horse. This is related to us in the upbeat, oikish Win Or Lose. What next? Off to celebrate in the pub, of course. Up comes the hit single and laddish singalong of Hurry Up Harry. Some may find this a laughable, idiotic song. Personally I love it. As Pursey memorably sings, "How I wish you'd listen to me - no, I don't want a cup of tea....". Then it's time for our anti-hero to try his luck with the "birds" on Evil Way. It's Friday night and the lads want to "get their end away". The song is genuinely amusing. Well, it is for me anyway.
The Rezillos supporting The Ramones in late 1977, which was quite apt as The Rezillos were a bit of a Ramones imitation band. Instead of Joey Ramone, they were fronted by feisty Glasgow girl Fay Fife (although Eugene Reynolds took vocals too, and sounded like Stiff Little Fingers' Jake Burns). Their music was in your face, breakneck paced, guitar and drums-driven goofy pop. Full of great hooks and silly lyrics, this, the only album they produced was a barrel-full of punk joie de vivre. The first two tracks, the ridiculous Flying Saucer Attack and all-out punk attack of No (with Reynolds on vocals) are just so energetic and delivered with an enthusiasm that is infectious.
Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight is a delightfully bonkers piece of punk fun, with Reynolds wrapping his raspy tonsils around the song again. Fay Fife is back, however, for her finest moment - the utterly intoxicating, hundred miles an hour sheer pleasure of Top Of The Pops. Even all these years later I still love it. "Do I look up to date.."asks Fay in her broad Glasgow brogue. Another thing to mention is that The Rezillos looked bizarre in their outfits, like a bunch of extras from Star Trek getting together with some Teddy boys. Fay wore all sorts of different strange get-ups. 2000 AD, It Gets Me and the bassy, mega-punky I Can't Stand My Baby are all "1-2-3-4"style frenetic punkers. Like Dr. Feelgood on speed. Their cover of The Dave Clark Five's Glad All Over is superb. Just play it, you can't sit still and stop yourself from banging on the nearest table. (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures is another exhilarating romp - "she shapes my body like a lump of mud...". What a line. Their cover of Gerry & The Pacemakers' I Like It is deliciously nutty too. The Feelgood-esque Getting Me Down, Cold Wars and Bad Guy Reaction don't move from the formula much. Neither do the bonus tracks. The live material from the deluxe edition is good to have too.
Ah, The Slits. I saw them supporting The Clash in 1978, but actually can't remember much about it (The Slits, not The Clash, whose show was one of the best gigs of my life). This is their debut album, one more followed and then that was it, as was the case for many punk bands. This is a quite perplexing album. Drenched in dubby rhythms, addictive, intoxicating bass lines, scratchy amateur-sounding guitars courtesy of Viv Albertine, discordant piano and pretty appalling hammy vocals from German-born Ari Up. This group of UK girl punks was the true face of female punk subversion. Even Siouxsie Sioux sounded mainstream compared to this lot. It has a really odd appeal to it, and always enjoy listening to it every now and again. It is a fun, catchy, and at times irresistible album.
has another throbbing bass and the girls telling us how they are going to "do a runner" from a shop. Their cod-Jamaican accent as they go on about "Babylon" at one point is a bit embarrassing, however. Fm apparently stands for "frequent mutilation". Ok, girls, if you say so. It is another is the same vein - beguiling rhythms, odd lyrics and weird vocals. That wonderful bass is there again on the haunting Newtown which also has some weird noises behind a dubby rhythm. Ping Pong Affair is an amusing tale of a couple splitting up and Love Und Romance is another unique Slits love song. Typical Girls is the most well-known and the best track on the album, with a thumping rhythm and some fetching vocals, despite their discordancy.
A brief dip into pubby r'n'b-ers who turned into punks, somewhat by default. Dating from 1976, in many ways this was the bridge between Dr. Feelgood’s Stupidity and The Sex Pistols’ Never Mind The Bollocks. For many people, like myself, whose teenage years were in the mid 70s, their first experience of punk was bands like Eddie & The Hot Rods and The Vibrators.
Certainly, for me, having heard all the hype about “punk rock”, the first single that I heard that I thought sounded like “punk” was supposed to sound was Eddie & The Hot Rods’ breakneck two minutes and so of Teenage Depression. If this was punk, I thought, I would have some of that.
Nobody remembers either the band or the album as being a forerunner of punk, but they were. Their gigs were a sweaty mass of pogoing punks and the often bare-chested singer Barrie Masters fitted the bill, despite not having the spiky hair-do. The album was half an hour of fast paced punky rhythm and blues. Dr Feelgood had begun the punk ethos in many ways. Just as Graham Parker started the new wave as much as Elvis Costello did, then Eddie & The Hot Rods were as responsible for the early punk atmosphere, certainly at gigs, as The Sex Pistols were. This is a enjoyable piece of heady nostalgia. A bit “of its time” but none the worse for it.
No Heart also reminds me of the first Magazine album and also Gang Of Four's material from a few years later. If She's Bringing You Down isn't punk, then I don't know what it is. This has hot, sweaty gigs in 1977 all over it. The same applies to the frantic, raucous Petrol. London Girls has some great punk riffs and a great, decadent atmosphere throughout. Even more so is the superb, slightly Velvet Underground-esque (not sure why, though) Whips And Furs, always one of my favourites from those heady days.
Public Enemy has a bluesy riff and a grinding feel to it. The Vibrators were starting to sound a bit like Dr. Feelgood here, although the whining punk voice kept them punk. Destroy is a great punk anthem, full of rolling drum fills and choppy guitar. Nazi Baby is a grinding intense punk rocker with, incredibly, some string orchestration appearing at the end.
I was slightly harsh on The Undertones when reviewing True Confessions (Singles A's & B's), dismissing them as naive youths playing in the big boys' world of punk and being totally unconvincing. Some of that still stands. They were certainly not credible in the punk rock authenticity stakes, however, listening their debut album again, I have to admit to enjoying it quite a lot.
Let's Submerge is a rollicking, rousing romp. You cannot call into question the effervescent, pure energy on this album. It is infectious. I Can't Do Anything also has a catchy, handclappy beat to it. Identity has Poly bellowing the title of the song as the opening before we are launched into a copper-bottomed punk classic. The saxophone blares, the sumptuous bass rumbles, Poly squawks and the angry intensity never ends. Genetic Engineering continues in the same vein, as indeed does the beautifully sax-drenched I Live Off You. The sax on this almost sounds like The Beat in places.
I Am A Poseur is another hundred miles an hour but then we get the complete change of pace in the hit single, the evocative Germ-Free Adolescents. Plastic Bag has poly telling us, cynically, that her "mind is like a plastic bag". The pace on this one is even faster at times, in between some slower, early Roxy Music-influenced passages. The Day The World Turned Day-Glo was also a single and is a madcap, bonkers slice of riffy livewire fun. Full of parping saxophone and hollering vocals. Punk perfection. Also fitting the latter description is the non-album single Oh Bondage, Up Yours!. Listening to this again has been a real pleasure. A breath of punky fresh air.
The Adverts were best known for the great single, Gary Gilmore's Eyes - they only did two albums, this was the first of them. Released ever so slightly late, in February 1978, this, from Devonian punk group The Adverts, has to go down as one of the most underrated punk debut albums. It lies forever in the shadows of The Clash and Never Mind The Bollocks, yet it crackles with the same aggression and verve. It reminds me a bit of Wire's Pink Flag, from the previous year, in its pure, visceral punk energy.
Its original release did not contain the now-famous single Gary Gilmore's Eyes, which I have covered elsewhere (click the link).
One Chord Wonders is an excellent, bristling, riffy opener telling of the group's supposed musical uselessness. "We don't give a damn" they sing, in a way that screams out that they need do give a damn. The punk energy continues on the equally punchy Bored Teenagers. New Church is more of the same, but sightly more melodic, albeit in a grinding punk way. The tempo slows down in parts of On The Roof which combines frenetic punk with an almost post punk sombre feeling in between its manic choruses. Newboys has a staccato but pounding beat and Bombsite Boy has a big punky chorus as they tell us that "the bombsite boys are going to mesmerise".
No Time To Be 21 has a Status Quo style riff underpinning T.V. Smith's typically thing, sneering punk vocals. Safety In Numbers is a great, little-known punk gem of a song as too is Drowning Men. Both are worth putting on a punk playlist to give a bit of variety from the usual suspects. On Wheels has an atmospheric, deep bass line and an infectious grinding beat. Great British Mistake ends this short but hard-hitting album in rousing, fist-pumping style.
The Adverts never made it, probably because unlike, say The Clash, The Jam or The Stranglers, they did not diversify as punk's furious fires soon blew out. Look, I don't spend much time listening to this sort of thing now, to be honest, it hasn't travelled that well (unbelievably, I would choose prog rock over it now) but when you're eighteen to twenty, it was ideal. Oh, and we all fancied bassist Gaye Advert.
Ready Steady Go was a minor hit single and it brings back memories for me of 1978. It is a catchy tribute to the iconic sixties music show but it always irritated me a bit - where Billy Idol sings “Cathy McGow-ow-ow-ow-an...”. Kleenex is a bit of a silly typical punker. Promises Promises is not the Buzzcocks song, it is an extended attempt at a punk anthem, sort of Still Little Fingers and The Ruts meeting The Boomtown Rats. Actually, it’s quite good. Probably the best track on the album. Day By Day is a frantic thrash that tells of going round and round on the Circle Line. The Invisible Man, all stabbing riffs and rolling punk drums is a bit like those songs Bruce Foxton wrote for The Jam, lyrically.
** The bonus track single Your Generation is a pounding, thumping killer of a track with a coal mine deep bass line throbbing along throughout. Its 'b' side was the equally bumptious, stomping, glammy Wild Youth. Both are good ones. Wild Dub is great too, with some excellent bass and drums. A bit Clash-like in places. No No No is a frenetic Ramones meets early Stiff Little Fingers thrash. Trying For Kicks is a Buzzcocks-fashion grinder. This Heat is very early Boomtown Rats in its feel. All these tracks would have been fine on the album.
Night Of The Cadillacs was like a typical Mott The Hoople mish-mash, like Violence or Crash Street Kids, just not as good. It was a bit like the stuff ex-Mott The Hoople bassist Overend Watts wrote when Hunter left and the band became Mott. Paradise West is an attempt to be a Springsteen meets The Boomtown Rats street anthem but it never really gets there, despite some grandiose guitar parts. Its five minutes plus don't realise any potential it may have had. Yes, it has a few good points (a great guitar solo, for one) but probably more unconvincing ones. A few listens, though, and it does sound better, so there you go. Friday's Angels sounds like an Ian Hunter bonus unreleased track that didn't make it on to an album.
Next up were two singles, the moderately successful but annoying (to me, anyway) rock 'n' roll pastiche of King Rocker and the chugging sub-Clash meets Rebel Rebel rock of Valley Of The Dolls. I didn't really go for either of these at the time and they still sound decidedly ordinary. English Dream is ok, but once again in a very Ian Hunter/Boomtown Rats sort of way. It is probably one of the album's better cuts, however.Love Like Fire is clunky, uninspiring sub-heavy rock. While one-time punk bands like The Clash and The Jam moved on successfully with albums like Give 'Em Enough Rope, London Calling, All Mod Cons and Setting Sons and even lesser punks like Stiff Little Fingers released Nobody's Heroes and Go For It! material like this ensured that Generation X would not do the same thing. The Prime Of Kenny Silvers, Pt. 1 finds the band trying to be The Who or The Jam in a character-driven song mixed with the street-drama of Bruce Springsteen or Bob Geldof. Pt. 1 merges seamlessly into Pt. 2 and the tempo drops a little. Look, it is ok, but as with most of the album it just sound right, whereas Rat Trap did. This was no Jungleland or anything off Quadrophenia or Down In The Tube Station At Midnight. It was a bit of a shame, because its intentions are fine, but some songs make it and some don't.
John Lennon's Gimme Some Truth is given a speeded-up punk makeover in which, ironically, Idol condemns punk rockers. Again, you could see what was trying to be achieved here and once more, it didn't quite work. It ends up like Sham 69 with chanted "truth" shouts. Another cover ends the album - Johnny Kidd & The Pirates' Shakin' All Over, something Ian Hunter regularly covered live, much more convincingly. So it was farewell, then to Generation X, probably rightly. Billy Idol went on to have a few solo hits, notably White Wedding and Rebel Yell in the mid-eighties.
999 - 999 (1978)
999 were another in the long line of "second division punks" - known for a couple of killer singles but not much more. I have reviewed their debut album only here. Admittedly, those two singles were great, though. There is not a huge amount that can be said about 999's March 1978 debut. It is classic punk meets new wave fare - fastly strummed guitar, rumbling bass, thumping, metronomic drums and a bleating , whining vocal, supplied here by Nick Cash. It is pretty much 1978-79 second division punk-by-numbers and sounds somewhat dated these days. It is not without its appeal, though, and it gets me somewhat nostalgic. I remember seeing the band live along with many other gigs by many others like them - consequently I can't recall too much about it, other than I went to see them play their single, Emergency. They ranked alongside The Ruts, The Rezillos, Penetration and Generation X for me, at the time, and still do. They were perfectly ok, but had nothing that made them extra-special. I have still enjoyed revisiting the album, though. It's 1978 again.
Me And My Desire is a mid-paced piece of guitar punk while Chicane Destination is faster and more obviously punk in style. Crazy is slightly rock 'n' roll-ish in that punk-new wave style that was quite common in the late 70s. It is almost glammy in places.
Your Number Is My Number is more new wave than punk while Hit Me is back to breakneck, riffy punk (it sounds like those punky songs Bruce Foxton wrote for the Jam in places) as indeed is the frantic I'm Alive. A change of sound and pace can be found (to an extent) on the infectious, bassy groove of Titanic (My Over) Reaction, a track that unusually featured its parentheses in the middle of the title. It features a nice guitar solo and a melodic bass line. A good track all over.
Pick It Up doesn't break the mould much and then we get the afore-mentioned Emergency, which was one of the great underrated punk singles. Sure, it was second division, but it still had something that makes it worthy of putting into any punk playlist. Its riff was brooding and post punk and it chugs along most satisfactorily. The last three - No Pity, Direct Action and Nobody Knows are all fast punkers in no real need of analysis. I am sorry that I can't find too much more to say about this, particularly on a track-by-track basis, other than it it is entirely representative of much punk music from 1978-79 and it's a lot of fun. I have to say, though, that albums like this, while ok for half an hour, have not travelled as well as those from other genres - quite a lot of soul, reggae, heavy rock, blues rock, psychedelia and even prog still sound credible today, whereas this, for all its gritty raw appeal, sounds very much stuck back in 1978.
** Another great single they did was Homicide, which is well worth checking out. It shares that gritty punk-new wave atmosphere that made Emergency such a great track.
Wire - Pink Flag (1977)
Wire were an unusual band - as aggressive and raucous as any punk group but also considerably post punk in their bleak nihilism. Let's take a look at their blistering, critically-adored debut album. I have to say that this, Wire's debut album, from December 1977, completely passed me by despite the fact that I think I saw them live double-heading with The Cure, but I can't remember for sure. The album didn't do particularly well at the time and there was so much other new stuff to get excited about - The Clash, The Jam, The Ramones, The Stranglers, Elvis Costello, Blondie etc etc. It is also an extremely oddly-conceived album - its 35 minutes contain 21 tracks, many of them under one minute in length. Were they taking the Ramones' get in there and thrash out as many songs as possible to the nth degree or were they subtly introducing a grinding, industrial post-punk ideology before punk itself had even started? Whatever, it is a most unusual album and there is no doubt that some of it is ahead of its time and was hugely influential on much of the post-punk material that emerged over the following couple of years. It is now, retrospectively, considered to be one of the great punk albums and is often found coveted by people you wouldn't expect to have liked punk albums, bizarrely. Although very much of its time, it still sounds incredibly energetic and invigorating today, although there is a far darker side to this than much of The Ramones' goofier material. The album is musically minimalist - choppy guitar, punky rolling bass lines, pounding drums and oikish punk vocals. The best tracks are the longer ones - the post punk before its time grind of Reuters, the punk thump of Ex-Lion Tamer, the equally powerful and sombre Lowdown, the chaotic Pink Flag and the gloriously menacing slow grunge of Strange. The sound on this launched many a moody post punk band. The catchy Mannequin is a good one too.
The shorter tracks, on the whole, are punky riffy thrashes that invariably end too soon. They sound great, though. Fine examples of this are the excellent Fragile and the almost poppy Champs. It does give the album a lack of cohesion, though, and many of the tracks have the feel of studio demo experiments. You just have to learn to live with them. Whereas the prog rock bands of the early seventies released "suites" of music that lasted a whole side of a vinyl LP, here the opposite occurs, the suite being made up of as many short snippets as possible.
That is about as much as I can say, it defies deeper analysis other than to say that if you want to blow the cobwebs away with a maelstrom of manic punchy punk energy, stick this on. In many ways it as pure a punk album as you could wish for. It's a bit of a shame it has taken me twenty-four years to get round to properly listening to it. On the other hand, it now sounds very much a period piece and I can see why I preferred the sixties-influenced Jam, the ear for an anthem Clash or the goofy bubblegum-pop punk of The Ramones. Those artists' work still stands up today whereas more visceral punk has not really stood the test of time. I find myself listening to The Grateful Dead these days. How things change...
Altered Images - Happy Birthday (1981)
This pop-influenced group, fronted by sometime actress Clare Grogan, were a short-lived post punk-new wave band who only released three albums and had three top ten hits - the great singalong fun of Happy Birthday, the slightly dubby new wave pop of I Could Be Happy (best listened to in its 12" format) and the girl group-influenced but surprisingly muscular and very catchy Don't Talk To Me About Love. This latter one is very much part of the sound of 1983. Their debut album, from 1981, with the exception of Happy Birthday, is a surprisingly sombre post punk offering, or maybe not so as it was produced by The Banshees' Steve Severin. The sounds on songs like Love & Kisses, Idols, the instrumental Legionnaire and Real Toys is relatively dour, metronomic drums, throbbing bass and post punk jangly guitars, raised only by Grogan's light, breezy voice. Were these tracks sung by a gloomy sounding male voice, they would be classic post punkers. As it is, Grogan's vocal delivery gives the album a bit of a lighter feel. So you get post punk moody minimalism topped off by a cutesy little girl voice. Faithless and the musically chunky Beckoning Strings are both tracks that sum up this sound perfectly. Clare sounds like a fourteen year-old trying to sound like Siouxsie Sioux in her bedroom. Furthermore, I always thought the band sounded really amateur on Happy Birthday, like a student group rehearsing, and they are like that throughout the album. All very incongruous but strangely intriguing, making it ok for the occasional listen, but no more than that, really.
The Skids - Scared To Dance (1979)
Scottish band The Skids were second division punks, coming to the scene a bit late in 1979, by which time the whole thing was ebbing away into post punk. They were led by charismatic singer and songwriter Richard Jobson and future big country guitarist Stuart Adamson. I have covered their first two albums here. This was their debut. Jobson was the lyricist, while Adamson wrote the music. Listening to it, though, I feel that it sounds a lot like the sort of material that Adamson wrote for Big Country, lyrically. Maybe he was heavily influenced by Jobson. Certainly the music sounds very much like prototype Big Country. It was all a bit in need of fine tuning, however, something Big Country managed by the time of their debut album, The Crossing, in 1983.
What a storming opener Into The Valley was, though, with its killer, additive riffs and anthemic, rabble-rousing chorus. It has Big Country written all over it. The same can be said of the chugging but incisive Scared To Dance, a sort of post punk slow punk song if you get my drift. It is a fine, brooding, Caledonian-sounding track. The frantic, punky and energetic Of One Skin begins with a very Big Country-esque riff that continues throughout the song. The staccato Dossier (Of Fallibility), although muscular, doesn’t quite get there for me, being a bit too “chunky slow punk by numbers” for my liking. Melancholy Soldiers is a fine, rousing Into The Valley soundalike with more great riffing and “woah-ho” chorus. Hope And Glory is in the same vein of most of the album, but it sounds a bit clumsy, particularly on its chorus. The Saints Are Coming is very Joe Strummer-esque in its introductory vocal and is powerful enough, but once again it has a definite poor man’s punk feel about it. By the time this was released, on 1979, many of those original punks had moved on.
Six Times has some great riffs and is a bit Sex Pistols-ish in places but it ends up as a bit of a racket. Calling The Tune slightly appropriates the riff from The Sweet’s Wig Wam Bam, while also sounding like one of The Sex Pistols’ lesser-known chunkier songs from Never Mind The Bollocks. Integral Plot is a Clash-like rocker with a real Big Country guitar sound, while Charles seems a little Jam-esque to me. I quite like it, though, despite its derivative sound. This enjoyable but not particularly remarkable album ends with more of the same riffing on Scale. All ok enough, but I wanted more by 1979, I think. It was a bit punk and a bit post punk and probably not enough of either to really convince, but what a fine hit single it produced in Into The Valley.
The Skids - Days In Europa (1979)
Hot on the heels of their debut album came more Caledonian riffing from The Skids. Personally, I prefer it to the debut - the compositions are fuller and beefier. It kicks off with a real Big Country-sounding rocker in the excellent Animation. It was the album’s third single. The big, rolling, military-style drums are here as is the bagpipe guitar sound. Next up was the minor hit single, Charade, which is beautifully chunky in its riffage and has a rousing chorus refrain (the song’s title, basically). Although not quite up to Into The Valley’s standards, it was still a good one.
A fine riff also introduces the catchy, singalong Dulce Et Decorum Est (Pro Patria Mori), which also features those bagpipe guitars. Big Country were well on the way, weren’t they? Pros And Cons is deliciously riffy too (what a surprise) and the album’s other single, Working For The Yankee Dollar, was an upbeat once more tub-thumping song that made a great choice for a single. Home Of The Saved was brooding and sombre, however. At the risk of repeating myself, the riff is just so....Big Country. The Olympian features some rolling drums and another fist-pumping chorus and yes, more searing riffs as does Thanatos. A Day In Europa is tuneful, but it doesn’t pull up many trees, while Peaceful Times finds the group dabbling in echoey electronic sounds, surprisingly. Its reverse-played vocals are a big mistake, though.
** The non-album single from the period was the unsurprisingly up and at ‘em strains of Masquerade.
Punk & New wave "also-ran" singles
In many ways, the true essence of punk lay in its many great singles. So, featured here are a selection of fine singles from punk-new wave artists that I really like, but the artists do not justify full album reviews in the way that others have, so I have lumped them all together:-