VANCOUVER COMPLICATION - Various Artists (Sudden Death)
Vancouver Complication not only documents one of the coolest underground punk scenes of the late ’70s, but also takes you back to a time when the boundaries of “punk” were more loosely defined.
Being a punk in 1979 (the year this came out) simply meant being against the mainstream, and the main weapon in a punk band’s arsenal could just as easily be a synthesizer as a guitar.
Vancouver was among the scenes that benefited from this open-minded approach. Though most of these bands are obscure even by punk standards, there’s a lot of great music on Vancouver Complication. As one would expect, two cuts apiece by scene legends DOA and the Subhumans are all classics, but the flag for traditional punk is also flown proudly by the K-Tels (aka, the Young Canadians) on “I Hate Music,” No Fun on “Mindless Aggression” and “Old,” and all-girl punks the Dishrags, who belt it out on “I Don’t Love You” and “Bullshit,” one of five bonus tracks. And to mix things up a little, you also get some fine cuts in the new wave/post punk mode such as “Quarter to Eight” by Tim Ray & A.V. and “U-J3RK5 Work for Police” by U-J3RK5. Then there’s “Pork U” by BIZ, a hilarious dirty sex ballad that doesn’t quite fit into any of those categories.
Not fitting into a category, of course, is a foreign concept in today’s regimented music world. Perhaps Vancouver Complication would be a good history lesson for punk fundamentalists. - Doug Sheppard
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