Steve Spinali

Social Disease Today EP

Pleasantly buzzy guitars liven up this three-track EP of mid-tempo punk anthems from SOCIAL DISEASE. “World at Ransom” is a moderately catchy composition with an intriguing riff, but the other tunes don’t rise to that standard, despite some wonderfully garargy production values. Above average.

The Adicts The Sound of Music LP

A fabulous cover design on the ADICTS’ second album doesn’t help an affable, yet insignificant, collection of pop-rock ditties reminiscent of a cross between the early ADICTS and ADAM & THE ANTS. The single (“Chinese Takeaway”) is catchy enough but most of the songs have a cloying style and no thematic depth or personality. It’s OK for parties, I suppose.

No Choice Sadist Dream EP

This offbeat record displays a good hand for social satire on the title track, which is basically a spoken poem over an acoustic backdrop. The flipside, however, compensates for a throwaway number with a vaguely wimpy, but nonetheless engaging pop-punk composition (“Nuclear Attack”). Interesting.

The Partisans The Partisans LP

Both consistent and powerful, this debut album by the PARTISANS contains a bevy of fine composition exploring themes of social protest and youth rebellion. An exciting version of “17 Years of Hell” accompanies new streamrollers like “No U-Turns” and “I Never Needed You”—possibly the best material this band has ever committed to vinyl. A lyric sheet would have been appreciated, but it’s more than made up for by the twelve straightforward, unpretentious punk anthems here.

Red Alert City Invasion / Negative Reaction 7"

Noisy and somewhat annoying, this latest effort by RED ALERT fails to approach the standard set by themselves or most other “skunk” bands recording in Britain nowadays. Both compositions here are musically undistinctive and, surprisingly, quite messily produced.

Screaming Dead Children of the Boneyard Stones Cassette

A primitive, garagey sound permeates this 6-song cassette by horror rockers SCREAMING DEAD. Perhaps not as stirring as their Valley of the Dead EP, this tape still contains abrasive standouts like “This Is the End of the World” and “God of Love.” It comes complete with a ghoulishly illustrated booklet and a SCREAMING DEAD button.

Code of Honor What Are We Gonna Do? / What Price Would You Pay? 7"

Strong (and occasionally annoying) heavy metal influences punctuate both sides of this hardcore offering by SF’s own CODE OF HONOR. “What Are…” grapples with the important issue of passivity in the current punk scene, while the somewhat slower B-side addresses a variety of societal ills. Highly credible and articulate lyrics.

Butcher On the Ground / Grow Up, Don’t Blow Up 7"

Haunting guitar progressions and an impressive wall of noise distinguish both sides of this debut single by BUTCHER. While “Grow Up” wins points for its breakneck, amphetamine-paced instrumental attack, the flip maintains more dramatic power and distinctiveness. Good, rowdy hardcore energy throughout.

Fallout Conscription EP

The six short compositions on this EP suffer from badly mixed, garage-style production values, with the guitars pushed way into the back. Too bad, because the subjects covered on this record demonstrated a high level of political astuteness and credibility. “Conscription” and “Laughable Attack” are especially topical.

Malcolm McLaren Buffalo Gals EP

If you enjoyed the classic 12″ by GRANDMASTER FLASH, chances are that you’ll favor this scratch version of “Buffalo Gals” by SEX PISTOLS creator and music entrepreneur Malcolm McLaren. Demented, confusing, and very funny, this collage of tape loops and dubs definitely hits the mark.

V/A Wessex ’82 EP

Four punky bands from Wessex participate on this strong compilation EP. The SUBHUMANS connect with “No Thanks,” their vitriolic commentary on “making it” in the music biz, while the PAGANS’ track (“Wave Goodbye to Your Dreams”) provides the high-velocity excitement here. Even the A-HEADS mix a satisfying melodic approach with their anti-government tirade. A very fine effort.

The Saints Out in the Jungle LP

The SAINTS’ current album is bound to be a disappointment to some and a surprise to all. The mid-to-slow-tempo numbers use acoustic guitars and even brass section at times, and the slick recording actually does justice to solid compositions like “Follow the Leader” and “Curtains.” Quite frankly, though, Out in the Jungle qualifies as nothing more than competent light rock—nowhere near past triumphs like “I’m Stranded.”

The Three O’Clock Baroque Hoedown 12"

Psychedelic pop without the acid flashbacks. While I prefer the guitar-heavy sound of earlier vintage SALVATION ARMY/THREE O’CLOCK, infectious songs like “With a Cantaloupe Girlfriend” and “I’m Wild” stand out as peaks on this EP of comparatively spare, vocal-oriented melodies. Some might find this record cloying, but it’s still recommendable.

Fastbacks Play Five of Their Favorites 12"

This refreshing, buoyant platter of pop-punk would have been highly recommendable even if it didn’t have one of the best songs of ’82 (“In America”) on it. Seattle’s FASTBACKS rely on amphetamine velocity and memorable songwriting to fuel their better compositions (“No Lethal Hope” and “Wait”), and on ingenious changes of pace for the stunning “In America.” Enormous fun!

TSOL Beneath the Shadows LP

From their inception, TSOL’s finest efforts used both hardcore energy and a fiery dramatic tension to fuel their compositions. Sadly, there’s surprisingly little excitement or drama on their latest LP; instead, they’ve opted for a heavily atmospheric approach to hold together a set of weak post-punk songs. I will always admire TSOL’s contributions to the California punk scene, but I cannot recommend this record.

Varve Bamboo Curtain EP

San Francisco’s most provocative all-girl outfit has preserved much of their garagey charm on this debut single. “Bamboo Curtain” and “The Plan” retain too much artiness to connect as good pop songs, but “Erotic Fridgidaire” has a pleasant melody and a bouncy guitar riff to recommend it. Above average.

Chelsea Stand Out / Last Drink 7"

CHELSEA seem to have fallen into a stylistic rut in their latest single. While the production factors are raw (a welcome change), CHELSEA have galvanized the hooks and choruses from their last two singles and album into an effective but unoriginal package. The lyrics, too, tend to degenerate into the predictable.

Dirt Nevermind Dirt, Here’s the Bollocks LP

This live LP (EP?) by DIRT captures all of the raw intensity of their exemplary debut, and fuses it with a punky venom that’s quite irresistible. Admittedly, the songs on this record vary considerably in quality, but their fiery version of “House of the Rising Sun” is alone worth the price.

Poison Girls Where’s the Pleasure LP

This record represents a dramatic change of direction for POISON GIRLS, Britain’s preeminent post-punk band. Their highly produced, sometimes disco-fied instrumental backdrops provide an unexpected contrast to their scathing commentaries on sex, politics, and power. Where’s the Pleasure? may lack the standout compositions which accompany their other albums, but the open-minded will find good music in a variety of styles here.

Rubella Ballet Ballet Dance EP

This intriguing four-track EP contains music reminiscent of early KLEENEX, with an added sophistication of production values. “The Ballet Dance” and “Unemployed” are recommendable kinetic rockers, but the catchy “Something to Give” gets added points for interesting lyrics and a strong melodic sense.

Violators Summer of ’81 / Live Fast Die Young 7"

This single seems more ordinary in comparison with their debut single and their work on the A Country Fit for Heroes compilation LP. In addition, the VIOLATORS’ compulsion with violence makes this release disturbing. “Summer of ’81” remains the poppier of the tracks here, though some might find favor with the sheer velocity of the flip. Better than most of the Oi currently available.

Chron Gen Outlaw EP

CHRON GEN’s polished ’77-style pop-punk may not be very exciting to listen to, but their emphasis on accessibility and politically astute lyrics make this EP an above-average one. “Outlaw” draws an especially convincing point on fashion vs. content in contemporary punk, while “Behind Closed Doors” addresses the subject of abortion somewhat ambiguously.

Disrupters Shelters for the Rich EP

Although a vast improvement over their Young Offender 45, this three-track EP fails to score any marks for distinctiveness or style. The political points are astutely drawn and written; unfortunately, the compositions here are very basic and very uninvolving.

The Enemy Punk’s Alive / Twist and Turn 7"

The basic riff is familiar, but “Punk’s Alive” remains a pleasing enough cut, with sentiments to warm the heart of any hardcore aficionado. Even though the B-side doesn’t meet the standard, an abrasive guitar mix and orange wax make it all quite worthwhile. Recommended.

Erazerhead Teenager in Love / All for Me 7"

A disappointment. Over their past two singles, ERAZERHEAD had developed a pleasant, hard rock sound reminiscent of the LURKERS/RAMONES. In place of this, they do an awful cover of the old DION AND THE BELMONTS song, while the flip tries for a more upbeat approach. Unimpressive.

Riot Squad Religion Doesn’t Mean a Thing / Riots in the City 7"

Standard Britpunk mining a heavy metal vein. This kind of thing has been done so often and so much better elsewhere that a record like this really has a hard time maintaining interest. Fast, loud, and tedious.

Screaming Dead Valley of the Dead EP

This exciting British import combines the trashy songwriting of the CRAMPS with atypical hardcore energy and bite, resulting in a disarmingly effective debut EP. While all the songs are very good, “Valley” sets especially high standards in Halloween-style noisemaking. Also note the cheap price.

Total Chaos Factory Man EP

TOTAL CHAOS specializes in a terse, powerful hardcore sound when they so choose, and this four-track EP is quite distinctive stylistically. Songs like “Factory Man” and “She Don’t Care” contrast well with the brooding protest of “I Die,” making this an atypical, though by no means outstanding record. No major developments since their debut.

V/A Bullshit Detector Two 2xLP

Those who found Bullshit Detector 1 disappointing may be pleasantly surprised at the quality and intensity of this important double album set from the people at CRASS. The musical spectrum ranges from experimental and poetic right through to the trashiest of contemporary hardcore, and the tracks by BOFFO, RIOT SQUAD, and the SUSPECTS are worth the price of admission in themselves. In addition, you’ll find this to be the best document of the current British underground scene to date.

Legal Weapon Death of Innocence LP

This well-produced debut album by LA’s LEGAL WEAPON presents a solid collection of hard rock numbers in the same general style as 45 GRAVE, but without the satanic overtones. Compositions like the kinetic rocker “Daddy’s Gone Mad” utilize Kay Arthur’s rather plaintive voice to good advantage, even though the highlight of Death of Innocence is probably the haunting “Wanna Be”—a ballad. This album definitely grows on you.

The Wrecks Teenage Jive Cassette

You probably won’t be able to get this garage-punk gem anymore, but suffice it to say this nine-song cassette is both funny and wise—with lots of hardcore thrills mixed in. Even though the WRECKS are no longer with us (sigh), songs like “Couldn’t Believe It” will live on in the annals of punk history. Mark my words.

The Adicts Viva La Revolution EP

The three supremely infectious pop-punk compositions on this EP are matched, unfortunately, but rather generic themes of teenage rebellion. “Steamroller” and “Numbers” ripple with fast melodies and enormously clever lyrics, and undoubtedly “Viva la Revolution” could have been a classic if only they hadn’t run the chorus into the ground. Very entertaining, but not very important.

Anti-Pasti Caution in the Wind LP

Definitely not as gritty and hardcore as ANTI-PASTI’s first album, Caution in the Wind opts for a greater emphasis on melody in the mid-to-fast-tempo compositions. This “classical punk” sound adds a new dimension of distinctiveness to the songwriting (especially in standout tracks like “Get Out Now” and “Mr. Mystery”), even if it does occasionally wimpify some of ANTI-PASTI’s best songs. Entertaining, but not particularly energizing.

Blitz Warriors / Youth 7"

BLITZ limps into their third single with two Oi anthems of only passing musical interest, especially in comparison with their past triumphs. Predictably, “Youth” whips through the familiar turf of teenage rebellion, but “Warriors” remains the far more disturbing of the two cuts; its lyrics, surprisingly, almost condone British gang warfare. Avoid.

Chelsea Evacuate LP

CHELSEA finds the groove with an upbeat collection of melodic 1977-style punk anthems. Often inconsistent in the past, CHELSEA’s latest lineup orchestrates classics like “Cover Up,” “War Across the Nation,” and the incredible “Evacuate” with flair and authority. Best of all, the band fuels their political sentiments with a higher level of literacy than most rock outfits can muster. There is only one bad song in the bunch. Snap this record up.

Chaos UK Loud, Political & Uncompromising EP

The incessant, no-holds-barred thrash on this EP surpasses on all counts CHAOS UK’s serviceable debut, Burning Britain, with a strong combination of intense vocals and a blistering guitar sound. All three songs set fairly high standards of quality, but fans of the VARUKERS should take special note of the vitriolic rocker “No Security.” This is loud, political, and uncompromising.

Chron Gen Chronic Generation LP

CHRON GEN’s debut album derives most of its influences from CHELSEA circa ’78, though without as many of the catchy melodies to depend on. Originals like “Reality,” “Chronic Generation,” and “Mindless” are the class offerings here, but it’s odd that all of these appear on past singles. Nonetheless, the bonus free live EP is excellent, hinting at the excitement of their tight, powerful live performances.

Crass Christ the Album 2xLP

Two albums, one poster, and a splendid 28-page large-format booklet (all in a sleek boxed set) seems all too much to digest—especially from England’s most astute punk outfit, CRASS. The studio LP, ranging from unrestrained thrash to sophisticated post-punk, contains some of CRASS’s most astonishing compositions to date; especially exciting are “The Great Working Class Rip-Off” and “Tribal Rival,” two impassioned attacks on Oi violence, and the superbly written “Reality Whitewash” which exposes vicious sex stereotypes and roles. In addition to a delightful live LP, Penny Rimbaud’s extensive article in the booklet provides a historical background for CRASS that’s spellbinding, perceptive, and lyrical. This release is incredibly mandatory.

Conflict The House That Man Built EP

Of the four tracks on this record, “Wargames” blazes through familiar hardcore territory, anti-war protest, with economy and splendid production values, while “I’ve Had Enough” connects with a poppier approach. The other two numbers, more workmanlike and less inspired, still hold enough requisite punk energy to be recommended. A fine debut.

The Cravats Rub Me Out / When Will We Fall 7"

After two disappointing singles, the CRAVATS almost return to their true 1980 form with a pair of mid-tempo post-punk offerings. While “Rub Me Out” opts for a more hypnotic effect, the real stuff appears on the flip, with its spooky changes of mood and entertaining sax work. Quirky, inventive, and original, this single also has the most hilarious lyric sheet I’ve ever seen.

Current Obsessions Faceless Rite EP

Don’t ask me how an unknown band from Wales emerges with a winner like this. Songs like “Woe-Man” succeed modestly in a slow, atmospheric vein, while “Fish” and “Faceless Rite,” mining the territory of light pop, deliver totally original melodies with complete finesse. I especially enjoyed Debbie’s unpretentious, nonchalant vocals, though the novel use of woodwinds was probably the deciding factory on this EP.

Drongos For Europe Death’s a Career EP

Despite a rather dreary B-side, DRONGOS FOR EUROPE injects genuine passion into the anthem like “Death’s a Career,” an angry tirade against military conscription. True, war is a rather easy subject to rebel against, but the message is important—even if this sub-genre needs more particular targets (take your pick) in the future.

GBH Sick Boy EP

Judged in comparison to their first two records, this latest EP by GBH is bound to register as a major letdown. Yet, in its own frantic, trashy way, songs like the rather hilarious “Sick Boy,” as well as the more serious compositions on the flip, grab your emotions by virtue of their sheer vigor and enthusiasm. While by no means a great record, this EP remains undeniably effective in its modest way.

The Lurkers This Dirty Town / Wolf at the Door 7"

They’re back? Yes, but with a new vocalist, and two incompetently written and edited ’77-genre punk rock-outs. While I admired the hard guitar sound, the songs here (especially “Wolf at the Door”) go on far too long, and with surprisingly primitive production to boot. Was this the same outfit who did “Freak Show” and “Last Guitar in Town”? The old LURKERS are nowhere in sight.

The Mob No Doves Fly Here / I Hear You Laughing 7"

The anti-war sentiments of this single are related with a good feeling for concise, compelling verbal imagery; too bad this effort veers into non-descript pop, especially on the flipside. While a song like “No Doves Fly Here” would have been right at home on the Wargasm compilation, its subject matter has been done more powerfully, lyrically, and eloquently elsewhere. Disappointing.

Peter and the Test Tube Babies Run Like Hell / Up Yer Bum 7"

This respectable funnypunk entry by PETER AND THE TEST TUBE BABIES doesn’t have quite the innate charm of their last single, yet it’s still enjoyable hardcore fun. “Up Yer Bum,” with its driving guitar attack, rates as a fine example of hate-rock, though “Run Like Hell” strikes an amiable compromise between hard pop and Oi—with hysterical lyrics to boot. Recommended!

Poison Girls Total Exposure LP

The POISON GIRLS, easily one of Britain’s finest post-punk ensembles, have translated a sense of rawness and snarling intensity onto this live LP which hasn’t yet been heard on their studio efforts. Commanding songs like “Persons Unknown” and “State Control” stand on their own, but familiarity with their material helps in appreciating this album. Elegantly packaged.

The Raincoats No One’s Little Girl / Running Away 7"

This delightful post-pop single represents the RAINCOATS’ definitive vinyl to date. While the A-side, “No One’s Little Girl,” impressed me with its subtle melodic sense, the SLY STONE cover on the flip is quintessential RAINCOATS—good-humored, loose, and charmingly amateurish. Good stuff.

Red Alert Take No Prisoners EP

This second single by UK’s RED ALERT would have been fine if the tracks had appeared on an album. The recording is powerful, the themes politically astute, and the songs above average; unfortunately the three Oi songs are far too generic-sounding to be on a single. “Take No Prisoners,” the best track here, is only mildly catchy.

Six Minute War Six Minute War EP

The reissue of SIX MINUTE WAR’s first EP provides fans of intelligent political punk a great opportunity. Production here is very garagy, but more than compensated for by its thought-provoking lyrics and inventive arrangements. Standout songs like “Strontium 90” and “Camera” contribute to the integrity of this abrasive, mid-tempo record.

Subhumans Religious Wars EP

Like their last single, this latest EP by the SUBHUMANS (UK) offers one excellent ’77-style punk cut and three good examples of filler. There’s no doubt that “Religious Wars” has it all. Inventive guitar-work, manic velocity, and scathing anti-religious lyrics; unfortunately, the other songs imitate generic Brit-punk.

Television Personalities Three Wishes EP

The TV PERSONALITIES (a.k.a. the TIMES, the GIFTED CHILDREN, TEENAGE FILMSTARS, etc.) perform a truly charmed version of “Geoffrey Ingram” here, a perfect pop song from the HERMAN’S HERMITS camp of pop music. The wry human commentaries which made their early singles so disarming, however, are missing from “And Don’t the Kids Just Love It” and the mildly catchy, psychedelic “Three Wishes.” For TVP fans.

The Varukers I Don’t Wanna Be a Victim EP

This record demonstrates improvements over the VARUKERS’ very good debut, and also a development from their early DISCHARGE influences. “Dance Till Your Dead” maintains a thrashy power with added melodic complexity, though “I Don’t Wanna Be a Victim” seems more ordinary. All in all, the VARUKERS mix energetic songs and powerful production with astute, intelligent lyrics.

Vice Squad Stand Strong Stand Proud LP

Some feel that VICE SQUAD is falling into the morass of contemporary post-punk. Not quite yet. Stand Strong Stand Proud, despite several throwaway numbers, clashes with social malignancies like vivisection (“Humane”), political passivism (“Freedom Begins at Home”), and the steady erosion of punk values (“Out of Reach”) with power and complete credibility. In addition, Beki’s point of view provides a welcome contrast to the typical male-dominance in modern-day hardcore. Highly recommended.

The Birthday Party Junk Yard LP

Not as accessible as the first two BIRTHDAY PARTY LPs, Junk Yard meanders into the nether realms of dementia, violence, and sex. The style here reminds one of the POP GROUP, but this is only a comparison of convenience; the predominately dirge-like song on this record captivate your attention with their originality and unusual lyric concerns. An acquired taste, though worth an investment of time.

SPK The Last Attempt at Paradise Cassette

Deathly industrial noise abounds on this well-recorded tape, a document of SPK’s last American tour. Simply the best band of its type, SPK runs through their disturbing pop music parodies and every manner of human atrocity, and always with that dynamic tribal beat in the background. The show must have really fried their brains in Lawrence, Kansas. This cassette is extraordinary.

SPK Leichenschrei LP

SPK, utilizing their encyclopedic knowledge of sound and its relation to specific emotional states, hit the bull’s eye with this landmark industrial music release. Leichenschrei takes perfectly orchestrated chunks of noise, modulates them with a powerful percussion section, and even adds little shreds of humor for the hell of it. The result: industrial music-making that, instead of isolating the listener, involves them. One of the three or four best LPs of 1982, no question about it.

Arkansaw Man Every Job/Mark Twain 7″

Good production and fascinating song structures distinguish this new release by ARKANSAW MAN. Post-punk influences are softened by lively tempos and the addition of a brass section, and there’s certainly more than enough originality on this record to make it a solid contender.

The Gymslips Rocking with the Renees LP

This British all-girl trio emerges from relative obscurity with a delightful album of hard pop reminiscent of early GIRLS AT OUR BEST. Songs like “Drunk Problem” and “Barbara Cartland” counterbalance a gutsy guitar sound with irresistible melodies, but even ballads like “Thinking of You” connect with a vengeance. Comes with a free four-track EP.

Toy Dolls Dig That Groove, Baby LP

The high-velocity insanity of this debut album by the TOY DOLLS brings to mind the work of great funnypunk bands like the DICKIES and the NOTSENSIBLES. Virtuoso guitar work, unforgettable melodies, and patently hilarious lyrics raise Dig That Groove, Baby to instant classic status, especially clever ditties like “Spiders in the Dressing Room,” the title track, and “Glenda and the Test Tube Baby.” Spirited and (s)punky.

The Leather Nun Primemover / FFA 7″

The newest 7″ from Sweden’s LEATHER NUN features two compositions mining an atmospheric post-punk vein. “Primemover” uses a basic metal riff to underline restrained, understated vocals, while the flip maintains a slower tempo and showcases more demented lyrics. No revelations here.

Slime Alle Gegen Alle LP

The mid-to-fast-tempo punks on this, SLIME’s third album to date, range from melodic ’77ish material with catchy choruses to hardcore thrash. Most of it is quite good, but I particularly enjoyed the title track and “Junge Junge” (a cover of BUDDY HOLLY’s “Oh Boy”). As you might have expected, it’s another superior release from SLIME.

The Celibate Rifles But Jacques, the Fish? EP

Catchy power-chord progressions, tasteful lead breaks, and extremely clever lyrics set this debut four-track apart from most current British hardcore. “Kent’s Theme” integrates snippets of cigarette jingles with a sharp anti-smoking attack, while “Let’s Get Married” adopts a loose, good-humored quality. An exceedingly winning release from a relatively unknown band. Bravo!

V/A Lung Cookies LP

Originally released as a cassette compilation, Lung Cookies features an impressive collection of bands from all over America expressing a variety of styles. The recording quality varies from cut to cut, with most being quite garagy, but these compositions provide an intriguing view of the domestic underground music with an emphasis on hardcore. The bands include RF7, SACRED ORDER, RED MEAT, the REJECTORS, TEN MINUTE WARNING, and several others.

Bad Brains Rock for Light LP

The tracks on this album exemplify the BAD BRAINS’ unique blend of reggae and metal-embellished hardcore. Ric Ocasek’s excellent production works especially well on the thrashers by underlining some of their complex arrangements and superb musicianship, and even though a fair proportion of this material has been released previously, it’s difficult to ignore memorable blasts like “Fearless Vampire Killers” and “How Low Can a Punk Get?” Solid and powerful.

Kommunity FK The Vision and the Voice LP

A variety of influences and moods infuse this unusual effort from KOMMUNITY FK. The mainly slow-to-mid-tempo compositions here feature some experimental intros, BAUHAUS-oriented song structures (though these Angelenos are better), and very stylish vocals. I especially admired the rich, abrasive guitar sound. Fans of the eclectic should find favor with this offbeat release.

Newtown Neurotics Blitzkrieg Bop EP

The NEWTOWN NEUROTICS’ command of melodic ’77-style punk is reconfirmed with this single. They cover the RAMONES’ classic, but add explicitly anti-war lyrics in an effort to increase its salience as ’80s political punk; the change works, though the vocals aren’t as affecting as Joey Ramone’s. On the flipside, they reprise the splendid song from their debut single, “Hypocrite.”

Pork Dukes Pig Out of Hell LP

Just when you thought they had been sold off as bacon, the PORK DUKES make their grand return to vinyl after a five-year hiatus. Admittedly, their new album suffers from inconsistency, but the DUKES seem to have recovered slightly from their calculated trashiness to connect with some real pop-punk delights here. Rumor has it that this band is actually STEELEYE SPAN incognito, and Jeff Bale detects elements of the SPAN sound in a couple of songs.

The Skeptix / OHL The Kids Are United EP

England’s SKEPTIX and one of Germany’s premier thrashers share this four-track EP. While SKEPTIX’s “Got No Choice” boasts a scorching delivery and good, trebly production, OHL’s “Spionage” ranks as the best song on the record, with its catchy guitar progressions and clever stop-and-go arrangements. The mid-to-fast-tempo hardcore on this release earns a strong recommendation.

Action Pact London Bouncers 12″

Powerhouse drumming is the only thing going for this Oi-punk release. ACTION PACT’s style changes so little from song to song that this four-track sounds like a retread of old material, except with plodding tempos and even a sax section on the title track. Boring.

V/A Posh Hits Vol. 1 LP

A great compilation of tracks from the vaults of Poshboy Records. There are many gems here, but the CIRCLE JERKS’ “Wild in the Streets,” the CROWD’s “Modern Machine,” and TSOL’s “Peace Through Power” rank as highlights in an album that also includes chestnuts by AGENT ORANGE, BLACK FLAG, and UXA. Good variety and quality make this record mandatory if you don’t have the original recordings.

Anthrax Capitalism Is Cannibalism EP

Penny Rimbaud’s distinctive production spices up four new compositions by ANTHRAX on their second EP. “Violence Is Violence” and the title track boast fast tempos and a blistering guitar sound which underline well-taken lyric concerns; the two cuts on the B-side aim for subtler effects, with equal success. This is political punk that’s both unusual and exciting.

Actives Riot EP

A rich, abrasive guitar onslaught provides an aggressive energy to this debut EP by the ACTIVES. The recording seems a bit muddy here, but two songs in particular (“Riot” and “Out of Control”) suggest that this group can emerge from a standard Britpunk style with catchy, change-of-pace instrumentation. Recommended.

Crass Yes Sir, I Will LP

This is a profoundly different sort of CRASS album. It counterpoints a thrashy, wild instrumental backdrop with an extensive lyric essay attacking the politics of power, nuclear escalation, organized religion, and especially our sheep-like passivity that allows it all to happen. CRASS apparently feels that their message hasn’t sunken in yet—hence the numbing music and emphasis on words—and they obviously hope that action will replace boredom and endless posing in the contemporary punk scene.

Disrupters Unrehearsed Wrongs LP

Easily more powerful than their first two EPs, Unrehearsed Wrongs contains some fine mid-tempo punk compositions including “Gas the Punx” and a catchy reworking of their classic anti-vivisection song, “Animal Farm.” Some of the tracks seem repetitious, but I enjoyed the poetic changes of pace and the guitar-heavy production. Check this one out.

Effigies We’re Da Machine 12″

This four-track EP doesn’t live up to the EFFIGIES’ standard. The record’s title track has a notable guitar riff, and the thick, heavy metal-punk instrumentation keeps the excitement rolling; the compositions are less distinctive than usual, however. Rambunctious, but not exceptional.

Rebel Truth The Request EP

Nine urgent, powerful punk anthems on this EP, all enriched by elaborate, carefully conceived instrumentation and fine lyrics. The production does seem a trifle muddy, but it hardly restrains the inventive compositions here, which very often combine the pop elements of “classical” punk with thrash energy. Atypical and strongly recommended.

Legal Weapon Your Weapon LP

LEGAL WEAPON’s second album is a workmanlike collection of slow- to mid-tempo punk rock numbers made more enjoyable by fine female lead vocals. Hardly a revelation, it manages to hit the mark with nicely arranged rockers like “What a Scene” and “Equalizer,” and with ballads like “Only Lost for Today.” Some of these songs go on too long, and this release isn’t as evocative as their debut, but I found myself drawn in by the rich, guitar-oriented production and complex arrangements. Maybe you will, too.

Angst Neil Armstrong 12″

A severely underrated Bay Area band, Angst specializes in intricate rock arrangements buoyed by occasionally hilarious lyrics. Such is the case here—songs like “Neil Armstrong,” “Pig,” and their soon-to-be-classic “Nancy” have a listless dementia about them that allows them to cross the boundaries of art-rock and funnypunk with equal ease. A fine effort, so buy it.

Icon A.D. Let the Vultures Fly EP

After their exciting debut EP, this effort ranks as a disappointment. Strong female vocals are amply supplemented by a fair song on the A-side (“Say No”), but the two B-sides are dismally produced and sound almost as if the band didn’t care what they were singing about—a lack of commitment that’s fatal here. Maybe next time…

Lost Cherrees No Fighting No War No Trouble No More EP

A solid, committed seven-track EP from Surrey’s LOST CHERREES. Female vocals and a basic, well-balanced production complement this varied selection, but the straight-ahead rockers like “Real Crimes” and “Pain Relief” are the most effective of these highly political compositions. A fine debut, even if “No Flag” sounds for all the world like a punk version of “O, Christmas Tree.”

Major Accident Fight to Win / Freedom 7″

A severe early CLASH influence, right down to the Joe Strummer vocals, mars the offerings on this band’s second 45. The better of the two tracks is “Fight to Win,” an unadventurous ’77-style punk number with a fair melody and uninvolving background choruses. This kind of thing has been down better elsewhere.

The Subhumans No Wishes, No Prayers LP

Vancouver’s legendary SUBHUMANS deliver their first record in years, but it’s been worth the wait. An aggressive ’77-punk style melds with strong lyrics to create brilliant cuts like “America Commits Suicide” and a very catchy version of “Googolplex”; there’s even a killer cover of MENACE’s “Screwed Up” to satisfy Britpunk enthusiasts. All we can do now is hope that they get back together and tour.

V/A Hardcore ’83 LP LP

The latest compilation from Propaganda varies in quality from cut to cut, but seasoned veterans like RATTUS, VARAUS, and the BASTARDS deliver thrashed-out songs close to their best material. Of the newer artists, the MARIONETTI and TAMPERE SS seem to be the most promising, especially the former’s killer “Turha Armeija.” With 35 tracks by 18 bands, you just can’t lose!

SPK Dekompositiones 12″

SPK, perhaps the preeminent industrial ensemble in the world today, add traditional vocals to this EP of well orchestrated percussive and synthesized noise. It may be more accessible and less affecting than their groundbreaking Leichenschrei album, but it still contains extraordinary music possessed of originality and, yes, genius.

Sado-Nation We’re Not Equal LP

Wow! Raw female vocals and a manic instrumental attack charge a highly distinctive album of garagey hardcore. SADO-NATION has that rare ability to write songs with thrashy energy, without sacrificing their inherent drama, as on classics like “Don’t Bother Me.” I especially admire the trebly production. Very solid and exciting.

Ism I Think I Love You / A7 7″

ISM’s annihilation of the PARTRIDGE FAMILY hit (“I Think I Love You”) couldn’t be more complete; manic velocity, unrestrained instrumentals, and vocals shrieked at top volume combine to create instantly unforgettable funnypunk. The flip is a bit repetitious, but it’s more than made up for by the vicious David Cassidy-Shirley Jones lampoon on the front cover. Hysterical!

Blitz Telecommunication / Teletron 7″

BLITZ slips into the tarpits of new wave disco with this single. The problem is that “Telecommunications” is bad discoid synth-pop—uninventive, wimpy, and with no good melodic hooks. The flipside is more interesting, but it falls into the trap of being artsy. I’m not opposed to a change in direction, but BLITZ sure missed the boat on this one.

Blitzkrieg Animals in Lipstick EP

While I enjoyed the workmanlike Lest We Forget EP, BLITZKRIEG’s mid-tempo, hard-edged punk approach wears thin on this record. Their anti-vivisection stand on “Conscience Prayer” is well taken, but the tirade against Britain’s economic woes, “Land of Failure,” seems to be the only moderately exciting cut here. All in all, fairly generic.

The Blood Megalomania EP

The BLOOD may not be geniuses, but their debut A-side rises from the morass of Oi-punk and delivers a breakneck attack on religious excesses, complete with classical piano intro and flailing guitar riffs. While it’s good, the two tracks on the B-side are completely unnotable aside from their fast tempo and hard guitar sound. Still, it’s quite recommendable.

The Damned Generals EP

If you’re put off by the glaring deficiencies of the latest DAMNED album (Strawberries), this 7″ might be closer to your liking. The two B-sides are unsatisfying, but “Generals” could be the best pop song this band has delivered in a couple of years; a good emphasis on piano and guitar, along with politically credible lyrics, combine to create an arresting, well conceived track.

The Gonads Delilah, the Punk Epic EP

The unmistakable Max Splodge touch adds a dimension of class to this third funnypunk single by the GONADS. “Lager Top” and “Sandra” are the kind of rowdy songs, complete with an abrasive guitar sound and Oi choruses, that make for great beer-time fun, if very little else. Gary Bushell’s presence here may be this EP’s biggest drawback.

The Mob Let the Tribe Increase LP

After two serviceable singles, the MOB must be congratulated for compiling a subtle yet affecting album’s worth of political pop ditties. This record may be inconsistent melodically, but the fourteen songs here have strong lyrics component and a simple instrumental approach reminiscent of the early MEKONS. This may not be thrash, but it is the kind of material that definitely grows on you. Good stuff.

Twisted Nerve Five Minutes of Fame / Strange Sensation 7″

An unnotable amalgam of punk and post-punk influences, this latest single from TWISTED NERVE features a very distanced guitar sound reminiscent of late-period UK DECAY. Unfortunately, the material here seems monotonous, and an occasionally interesting effect doesn’t rescue the record from ordinariness.