The Outcasts

Reviews

Blood and Thunder LP

Northern Ireland’s OUTCASTS have been carrying the punk standard since ’78, and I’ve always been a big fan of theirs. So it really hurts to say that their second album is something of a letdown. Their earlier punky pop sound has gradually mutated into a churning, militaristic, metallic juggernaut with lots of hooks and inherent power, but little humanity. Moreover, eight of these twelve tracks have already been releases, their new versions of old classics like “Frustration” really pale in comparison, and “Sex and Glory” is the only newer song that really stands out. The OUTCASTS have lost their innocence, and the results are at best mixed.

Tell Me the Whole Story 2xLP

This appears to be the first complete and definitive singles / EPs collection from this Belfast group. The ’78–’79 material is classic jagged-edged adolescent punk with a dash of that mandatory pop that’s evident in basically every Irish punk band from the ’70s. Sort of akin to more distinguished and catchy ’70s punk like THE ADVERTS, but far more juvenile. I hadn’t previously ventured into the ’80-’85 material, and turns out they predictably become more refined, with prominent new wave tendencies, but the tunes remain enjoyable, or at least listenable. Song themes don’t stray far from love, adolescent misogyny, street life, or inspiration from whatever the songwriter was reading at the time. “I wrote this song about a girl I was dating. She told me one day she was now a Christian, so this line came to me: ‘you’re a disease babe / your faith’s a disease I don’t wanna catch.’” Each song gets a little blurb or anecdote from the main songwriter Martin Cowan, laid out across a gatefold sleeve with the original sleeve art of each single and EP. The whole thing sounds great, and appears to be about as faithful of a collection as anyone could hope for.

Angel Face / Gangland Warfare 7"

Probably the weakest single ever from this long-standing Northern Irish punk band. Nothing could salvage that putrid piece of muzak, “Angel Face,” though their militaristic rendition comes close. The flip is a remixed version of an already-released song. This band is capable of much more than they display here.

Nowhere Left to Run 12″

At first, I couldn’t believe that this beautiful dance-oriented post-punk music was even produced by the OUTCASTS. However, once I got over the initial shock, I began to enjoy it tremendously. All three versions of the title song feature a hypnotic rhythm, extraordinarily evocative guitar frills, and a haunting overall effect heightened by chimes. The punked-out version of KENNY ROGERS’ “Ruby” is more pedestrian.