Reviews

No Future

Attak Zombies LP

This record is better than a lot of the LPs being produced by the most recent generations of British punk bands. The guitar-enhancing production here is up to the usual UK standard, but these guys have more energy than most of their plodding contemporaries. On the other hand, the lyrics aren’t too interesting.

Blitz Never Surrender / Razors in the Night 7″

The best of the “skunk” bands comes up with a second terrific release. On this one the guitar sound isn’t quite as heavy and dense, but it’s more than compensated for by the accelerated tempo. A must.

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.

Blitz Voice of a Generation LP

A 50-50 proposition. The strongest tracks are the ones with the cool back-up soccer chants—really powerful punk. And then there are the others, either too sparse, over-produced, or just plain lame (like their cover of LOU REED’s “Vicious”).

Crash / Crux Fight For Your Life / Keep On Running split 12″

One record with a separate band on each side. In the No Future world, this is an appropriate move, because one side is punk, the other Oi. CRASH is the punk band, and they’re similar to many of the bands on that label—anthemic songs à la BLITZ. CRUX are more like the EXPLOITED or the 4-SKINS, only sorta low-key. “I’ll Die with My Boots On” is the epitome of Oi topics, but “Streets at Night” is the better song. Nothing exceptional here.

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!

Peter and the Test Tube Babies Pissed and Proud LP

Well, they’ve finally put an album out. The sound quality is so good that you’d never know it was live except for the crowd noise and interaction between the band and audience. These guys produce powerful Oi music, but their themes are questionable, as with most such groups. They have all sorts of songs about “birds”—the English equivalent of “chicks”—and not being able to get off. Then we have the familiar ode to fighting, getting beat up, and the wimps that won’t fight in “Moped Lads.” Socially relevant themes in “Keep England Untidy” tell us to litter, and “Shitstirrer” is where they explain that when things are bad they will make them worse. Their song “Elvis Is Dead” is a classic, though, and “Maniac” is a great pun. But who knows at this point if they’re serious? Fun band to listen to but not to contemplate. They are thugs and proud of it.

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.

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.

Red Alert We’ve Got the Power LP

Oh yeah? You must have lost it all before you recorded this. Actually, it’s not that bad at all—I just couldn’t resist. There are a few decent “skunk” tracks here, but most plod along with no special spark.

Red Alert There’s a Guitar Burning 12″

This six-track EP by a veteran skunk outfit fails to generate much in the way of interesting songwriting or forcefulness. While “The Revolution Will Come” rates moderately well for some tasty riffing and snippets of melody, the rest of the compositions here seem rather generic, and the lyrics are especially unchallenging. All in all, tiresome.

Screaming Dead Night Creatures 12″

A brilliant mixture of modern punk and psychedelia. Despite SCREAMING DEAD’s trendy horror rock trappings, they manage to deliver highly distinctive songs with clever arrangements, strong hooks, and plenty of overall power. The frequent inclusion of mind-expanding organ runs adds personality, and the guitar playing is extraordinarily fine. One of this issue’s best.

Screaming Dead Paint It Black / Warriors 7″

A slightly disappointing follow-up to their great recent 12”. The A-side is a passable but unnecessary cover of the old STONES classic; the choice flip has fantastic back-up vocals that remind me of the early SKIDS. The band’s guitar work is also as brilliant as ever, so axe aficionados should seek out this 45.

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 Insane El Salvador EP

Disappointing. The sound is certainly heavy enough, but it’s too slow to keep up with their first thrash EP. Thematically sound but musically average, and I could do without another version of the HEARTBREAKERS’ “Chinese Rocks.”

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.

The Wall Day Tripper 12″

Scene veterans the WALL were always somewhat inconsistent, even as a fledgeling punk band, but this tendency became more pronounced as they entered their post-punk phase. Now, they are consistent—consistently bad, if this 12″ is representative. Only “When I’m Dancing” has a semblance of a hook; the rest are just ponderous, boring dirges.

V/A A Country Fit for Heroes Volume 2 12″

Like those from the first installment, the bands here haven’t released any other vinyl yet. And true to the No Future label, this is a mix of punk and Oi bands. Some of them are mediocre, but CADAVEROUS CLAN and IMPACT make this record worth the £2.50.

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.

Violators Die With Dignity 12″

This six-track EP contains material primarily from past singles and compilations, but it nonetheless represents some of the highlights from this skunk outfit’s intriguing career. “Die With Dignity” and the classic “Gangland” epitomize the VIOLATORS’ highly dramatic, accessible style—so if you don’t have the original releases, you should find favor with this inventive release.