ANGELIC UPSTARTS: The Albums 1983-91

After having pretty good success on their early releases, the band started to lose some traction and after the failure of the Still From The Heart album, EMI said bye-bye and they were back to the indie scene. This was a great wake up for them since Reason Why? was a terrific album that brought them back to the punk rock glory that people loved them for. “Geordies Wife” and “Dollars And Pounds” are both politically charged poetry that adds something interesting to the album. The cool part is that you get ten bonus tracks added to the original album. CD2 which again comes with ten bonus tracks, mainly rare studio demos that show the bands raw edge. Along with politically charged punk rock, you get a cool cover of Martha Reeve & the Vandellas’ “Nowhere To Run.” Next up is Live In Yugoslavia, which is basically a greatest hits collection of the band’s songs and played with vim and vigor. Disc 4 is 1985’s Power Of The Press album which now comes with the bonus single “Brighton Bomb.” The album is a little more into the new wave sound of the time but still is a great listen. Next up is the even more new wave sounding Blood On The Terraces album with an included extra seven bonus tracks. The band still has some punk, but there is a lot of sound of the times going on and some controversial titles like “Heroin is Good For You,” and a cover of Kenny Rogers and The First Edition’s “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town.” Ending with Bombed Out which saw original guitarist Mond reunited with vocalist Mensi for the first time in nearly a decade. This seemed to invigorate the band and they came back to the punk rock sound again, and the box set ends on a high note.

Although not as mandatory as the first box set, this is still a great collection of songs that sound better on this release than on the originals and will bring back memories to us old guys. The booklet features pictures of all relevant sleeves, liner notes, news clippings, and many previously unpublished photos.

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THE BUSINESS: 1980-88

1980-88 (Clamshell Boxset) (5CD)

The Business was an English Oi! band formed in 1979 in Lewisham, South London. The band lasted for four decades until their frontman Micky Fitz died from cancer in December 2016. The band was formed by school friends Steven (‘Steve’) Kent (guitar), Michael Fitzsimons (‘Micky Fitz’) (vocals), Nicholas (‘Nick’) Cunningham (drums) and Martin Smith (bass). The band has had numerous line-up changes in their career until in late 2015, Micky Fitz was diagnosed with cancer on the lymph gland and underwent radiotherapy. On 1 December 2016, it was announced that Fitz had died. This 96 track, 5 CD, six-album clamshell box features all that Oi! legends The Business recorded between 1980-88. The 20 page booklet contains detailed liner notes, lots of previously unseen pictures and clippings from the band’s archives plus scans of all relevant record sleeves.

Disc 1 features 14 tracks by the band’s original incarnation including the Indie Chart hit single “Harry May” and Oi! favourites “Product,” “Suburban Rebels,” and a cover of Elton John’s “Step Into Christmas.” The songs are mostly demos from the original band and not as punk/Oi! sounding as they later did, but it is a great start to this collection and a chance to hear the very beginnings of this great band. The second disc is the band’s debut album Suburban Rebels, an acknowledged Oi! classic now bolstered by four bonus tracks including the Indie Chart No.3 hit “Smash The Discos.” This is where I first heard the Business, and owned this album, playing it quite a bit. “Harry May,” and “Drinking And Driving” are still great songs that were played by me when I used to DJ, and still get turned up loud when they come on. You can hear the improved playing and writing that this album had over the first recordings. Disc 3 has two albums on one CD. The original “stolen” recordings meant as their first LP plus the in concert Loud Proud And Punk-Live LP which hit No.2 in the Indie Chart and was actually recorded in a studio, with crowd noise dubbed in later. The master tapes for the first album went missing after disagreements between the band’s label and the studio, forcing them to re-record the album, so this is a great opportunity to hear what the band was going for before they had to come up with another album quickly. They included a cover of Crass’ “Do They Owe Us A Living” on the CD, which is pretty good, and the “live” album with their Sex Pistols cover of “Pretty Vacant,” is a great way to hear what the band sounded like live, or at least all playing together in the studio but without the cleaning up of their sound. The fourth disc features 1985’s Saturdays Heroes LP which now has the addition of the rare Get Out Of My House 12” EP. The album proved that the band were still vital and could keep getting better and better, with great production and a bunch of blistering songs, including the fantastic title track. As a bonus, we get the remade “Drinking And Driving,” “Outlaw” and “Coventry,” plus their versions of Sham 69’s “Hurry Up Harry” and Hustler’s “Get Out Of My House.” Now that’s a killer CD! The fifth disc is 1988’s Welcome To The Real World album which saw the band expand to a five-piece with the return of original guitarist Steve Kent. The song, “Do A Runner” has always been a classic and I loved it as soon as I heard it for the first time. A great song that still gets me singing long after all these years. This album is just as strong and tight as you would hope from them and will definitely get you shouting from the terraces. The bonuses are two songs from the Main Event gig, “Saturday’s Heroes” and “Harry May,” plus “Coventry,” “No Emotions,” the EP version of “Welcome To The Real World,” and two album out-takes, “Tina Turner” and “Get Yer Tits Out.”

Possibly one of the better collections out there since this is the classic stuff that they are so well-known for and even though they kept putting out newer albums, this is what I’ll always remember them by. If you are a crazed fan, you might have everything here, but for those that want to jump in, go for it…you won’t regret this at all, just great song after great song and the booklet is a great read too.

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DEAD FRIENDS 46: Hardcore

The band was formed back in 2015 by hardcore/punk rock lifers Don Mazza (vocals) and Jason Dovalina (rhythm guitar), who quickly recruited close friends Andy Spraker (drums), Sean McGuire (bass), and Shaun Andri (lead guitar). True stories from members’ lives and salutations to fallen friends drive the writing and influence of the album. Each band member has overcome their own significant obstacles, including incarceration and addiction, and it shows in their lyrics, activism and commitment to doing everything they can to educate, but not preach.

Originally self-released on CD format by the band as Athletes to the Front which sold out immediately, Hardcore contains two additional tracks (“Mass Hysteria” and “Blood Clot”). The album also features a cover of Peter and the Test Tube Babies’ “Banned From The Pubs” and Social Distortion’s 1982 classic “Mass Hysteria.” The album is a punch in the gut and a kick in the ears that will make you shout…not in pain, but in complete joy, because someone gets it! Hardcore without the metal wanking and bullshit lyrics that too many bands seem to have nowadays. These guys are taking the old school sound, before metal crept into hardcore and taking a step back, but pushing the format ahead at the same time. Since this is not metal, it’s like a blast from the past, but maybe others can get their shit together and join in what they are doing and start more bands that are pure hardcore…maybe the start of a new trend…of doing it right. Gruff vocals, buzz-saw guitar playing, thick bass, and drums pounded within an inch of their life, plus awesome lyrics make for an album that is pure gold for these old ears. Short, to the point songs with no filler, and yes…all killer…sorry. The last song is truly powerful, listing their departed friends at the end of the song, a hardcore version of Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died” in a way.

The album is a definite blazing collection of songs that will get you up and slamming along to, but take a listen to the lyrics too, feel the pain and emotion that the band puts forth. Having some people close to me die from drugs and bad decisions, this album not only was a punk rock fest for me, but it also meant something to me. Thank you for this great album guys.

Also posted at: http://ripplemusic.blogspot.com/2018/12/dead-friends-46-hardcore.html

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THE 4 SKINS: The Albums

This 76 track four CD clamshell box set rounds up all that Oi! legends The 4 Skins recorded between 1980 and 1984. They formed in 1979 and disbanded in 1984 – although new line-ups formed in 2007 and 2008. The booklet features in-depth liner notes and is packed full of rare clippings and memorabilia plus many unseen photographs from the time, plus the remastered sound is great.

The first CD features all the tracks recorded by the band’s original vocalist Gary Hodges. It contains all their contributions to the Oi albums, a rough and ready version of their classic “Clockwork Skinhead,” “One Law For Them” single and various live and demos offerings. It gives a great overview of what the band was and where they were going. The second disc contains their first album with new drummer Pete Abbot and singer Tony “Panther” Cummings joining. Their debut album actually managed to crack the top 100 of the UK charts…pretty impressive. The album was split into a studio and live sides, with the live music being “live in the studio,” not in concert. The album includes great songs such as “Plastic Gangsters” and “Yesterday’s Heroes” which are still terrific after all these years. Disc Three is the Fistful Of… 4 Skins album which hit No.11 on the Indie Chart and saw the band led by ex-Last Resort vocalist Roi Pearce. This is the album that I got into the band with and it holds a special place for me. “Forgotten Hero” and “Johnny Go Home” are classics that grabbed my ears when I first heard them and still sound amazing. The last disc is the rare live From Chaos To 1984 which showcases the band playing their hearts out for the punters.

The band was a great blast of energy and proved that skins could sing about more than being a skin, football, drinking, and fighting, they put a lot of thought into what they did and played as hard as they could. This is a great collection that deserves to be in your house and played frequently.

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COCK SPARRER: The Albums 1994 – 2017

Cock Sparrer is a punk rock band formed in 1972 in the East End of London, England. They are considered one of the most influential street punk bands of all time, helping pave the way for early ’80s punk scene and the Oi! subgenre. This is a collection of their comeback album and more remastered and with bonus tracks added. The detailed 20-page booklet comes complete with rare clippings and memorabilia, informative sleeve notes and pictures of all the releases. The whole project, like the recent 1978-87 The Albums box set – has been overseen by guitarist Daryl Smith. When Cock Sparrer re-emerged in 1994, they added guitarist Darryl Smith to the original lineup and this has remained in place for the last 24 years.

With tight some tight playing and the continued energy that the band is noted for, Guilty As Charged is everything that fans had hoped for in a return. The band gives us songs to sing along to, and great lyrics that the listener was expecting. “Last Train To Dagenham” and “Because You’re Young” are terrific songs that keep the high standard that they are known for, plus you get the complete Run Away EP as well as a bonus. Two Monkeys includes a rare cover version by the band of the 1970 England World Cup Squad’s “Back Home.” “Battersea Bardot,” is a tribute to ill-starred actress Carol White and is not the usual stuff that they do, but shows that they have the skill to include a different sound to their album and it’s a definite treat. Here We Stand is now joined by the 2008 single version of “Because You’re Young” plus a duet with WWF legend Dan Hardy on “England Belongs To Me.” “Gotta Get Out” is a ripper of a tune that I just can’t get enough of, and “Spirit Of ’76” is another fantastic punk song that shows that they have the heart and soul to show the kids just how it’s done. The last CD Forever keeps the high quality going and proves just how vital they are to the scene after all these years.

It’s great to see a band that is still going after all of these years and still giving their all to the fans. They may not be the most prolific band with only seven albums between 1978 and 2017, four live albums, one EP, nine singles and feature on many compilations, but the music is quality and that’s what really counts.

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BLITZ: The Albums 5CD CLAMSHELL BOX SET

Blitz was a street punk/Oi! band from New Mills, Derbyshire, England, formed in 1980 producing albums until 1983. The band signed to No Future in 1981, and their first release was the 7″ EP All Out Attack. Their debut album Voice of a Generation received a five-star review from Bushell in Sounds. The original Blitz lineup consisted of Carl Fisher (vocals), Charlie Howe (percussion), Nidge Miller (guitar), and Neil “Mackie” McLennan (bass). After Fisher and McLennan had a disagreement, Fisher and Howe formed their own band. In 1983 they produced Second Empire Justice on the No Future label with Tim Harris (guitar, keyboards), crediting Mackie. Because of its departure into post-punk and new wave characteristics it did not do well with the original Oi! audience. The album was commercially unsuccessful at the time, the No Future label sank, because Blitz was their main income and with it the Fisher and Howe arrangement. According to Miller, the band split up, because the original members had no interest in “touring, plus they were never really into the music.” It was Miller alone who produced the 1989 album The Killing Dream playing all instruments (guitars, bass, drums) with Gary Bassnett on vocals. This 90 track, 5 disc clam shell box set features everything released by Punk legends Blitz. The 20 page booklet comes complete with detailed liner notes, pictures of all relevant record sleeves and memorabilia and clippings from the era.

I remember hearing the classic “Someone’s Gonna Die” and couldn’t believe hav much I loved it and how thick it sounded, like a jet-liner taking off in my face, I knew that I needed  more from this band. Disc 1 is the seminal Voice Of A Generation album which hit No.27 in the UK National Charts as well as topping the Independent Chart. This album is fantastic with songs like “4.Q.,” which lept me coming back to it year after year, and playing it for anyone who would listen. A great debut that retains the pure power and force that makes it stand out from the pack. Disc 2 is a 29 track collection of non LP singles, B-sides and compilation cuts that was mostly the way a lot of people, myself included heard Blitz mostly. Back then, compilation albums were a great way to hear bands new songs, rare songs and get people to pick up their own releases. This CD is chock full of fantastic songs and will be stuck in your player for hours. Disc 3 is a rare In Concert live recording from 1982. This is an amazing in your face concert showcasing the band playing their hearts out to an appreciative crowd. CD 4 is the No.5 Indie Chart album Second Empire Justice which now features the “Telecommunication” and “Solar” singles as a bonus. This is the album that the older fans just shook thier heads at, “where was the punk, the fire?” The band took a lot of stick for coming across more like Joy Division than the old punk band that they were, but they still had great songs and the album sounds good in the light of years passing. Lots of hooks, and the lyrics were still on point, just let yourself relax and enjoy it. The fifth and final disc is the band’s album from 1990 The Killing Dream, now restored to its original track listing and running order. With a drum machine and still sounding like a post-punk album, it has some good moments, but isn’t the punk powerhouse that people might have been expecting. It still has enough interesting things going for it that I enjoyed it more now than I did back when it came out.

Having this great band collected is such a treat and will keep you happy for hours and hours, just keep an open mind. his is the definitve collection of a vital band that more people need to hear.

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SALVATION CITY ROCKERS: Too Young To Die…Too Fast To Live…Street Punk Is The Only Way Out!: LP/CD

French street punks Salvation City Rockers from Paris combine old school punk, some ska, a touch of reggae and street punk on this LP to great effect. It’s always a treat getting an album from a band that goes beyond your expectations.

This album is incredibly varied, and every song comes with a lot of feeling, emotion and melody. The fantastic guitar playing, pounding drums, driving bass and Hammond organ mix together for a collective sound that borders on terrific. Singer Alteau’s voice suits everything on here, from the punk rock songs, to the more 2-Tone tinged numbers. This has the sound of a touch of RANCID, and in turn THE CLASH as well, but it still sounds fresh and exciting. Song after song are tightly played and sung with conviction and power, making you want to keep replaying the album again and again. I can’t pick just a few songs that I like, since I enjoyed them all and will for a long time. They do a great cover of the Teddybears song “Punk Rocker,” and you get to see Bernie Dexter doing her great pin-up look on the cover and inside too.

This was a great old sounding street punk album that carries on the great tradition of Oi! into the future with a performance that makes your hair stand on end. Grab a copy, lace up the boots, and crank this bad boy up!

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