WE WENT AND RECORDED IT ANYWAY: THE BEST OF POP-PUNK AND POWER POP 1977-84 - Various Artists (Brutarian Quarterly)
This is unadulterated goodness. Call it pop-punk, power pop, new wave, whatever you like. It's all stuff that flew under the radar, mostly in the US Midwest and Canada, while "punk" was a dirty word. Rough, tough and spirited, just as you like it.
"We Went And Recorded It..." picks up the ball where the long-running Killed By Death series ran out of steam. The man behind this compilation, Keith Dagger, plays bass with under-appreciated punk veteran Dennis Most and currently active Sanity Assassins. His similarly-themed "You Only Get One Shot At The Big Time" on Wizzard In Vinyl spreads the same gospel.
It's not polished but there's an often naive melodic edge to much of this music that earns it its pop wings. Most of it had no hope of being played on a radio station outside the fledgling college network. Heading the pop contingent is Michigan-grown The Seatbelts, whose "American Bandstand" is an unreleased gem that might have bucked that trend if it had gone past the demo stage.
Likewise, Doug Derek & The Hoax;s "Bobby's Got To Get Back To Boston" is an unashamed pop stunner, in the ilk of The Plimsouls. How this New Haven crew didn't earn their deserved time in the sun is a mystery. They're good enough to have come from Perth.
Britpunk/popsters Rudi are clearly another that got away with the irresistible "Who You."
Swapping geography for genre, you could say Detroit is especially well represented here. The place may have been regarded as a musical wasteland in the late '70-s and early '80s but there's enough evidence around to suggest that was just blinkered snobbery. Cadillac Kidz rock like the bejesus with their Wayne Kramer-produced "Establishment Bash", aided and abetted by a vocalist with a Roky vibe.
Still in the Motor City, The Sillies stump up their glam-punk necrophilia anthem "Love You To Death." Leisure Class sound like a trashed Devo on a three-day bender on their pre-NYC "Weekend Punk", while the hitherto unknown Lipstick sound like Destroy All Monsters' little sister on "Powerslide."
The Nervenbreakers are a band I've been hanging to hear more of and their Texas-via-The Bowery "I Love Your Neurosis" is an amazing bitter-sweet rumble, a swaggering and bitter-sweet, kiss-it-or-kiss-off, pounder.
Benedict Arnold And The Traitors' "Kill The Hostages" was an obvious yank on Middle Amerika's chain but its reliance on then current events leaves it sounding dated. Their "fuck 'em if they can't take a joke" ethos, however, remains thoroughly relevant. Sharon Tate's Baby may be one of the worst band names of all times but their "Bored Stiff" has a gutter-dwelling savour faire that takes some beating.
Not much matches the Mack-truck-with-a-lose-wheel power of Canadians Terminal Sunglasses. Things get off the rails in the dying gasps of "Fear Of People Who Look Insane" but it's a damn fine ride while it lasts. - The Barman
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