Reviews

Disco Zombies South London Stinks 2xLP

The DISCO ZOMBIES were cult heroes of the late ’70s heyday of John Peel-backed UK punk, and like so many other Class of ’77 acts that actually survived to the dawn of the ’80s, their modus operandi gradually shifted from buzzsaw three-chord anthems to more offbeat and moodier post-punk strokes over the course of those few years. South London Stinks is essentially an expanded version of Acute Records’ Drums Over London anthology LP from 2011 (now out-of-print and not cheap)—you get the three 7”s that the DISCO ZOMBIES released during their original run and some scrapped recordings from that same era, with the addition of a handful of songs recorded when the band was later rekindled in our current millennium, all chronologically sequenced for a tidy linear narrative. “Top of the Pops” and “Disco Zombies” from 1979’s The Invisible EP  have all of the melodic velocity and acerbic, tongue-in-cheek humor of the BUZZCOCKS at their prime, and there’s a whole set of outtakes like “The Year of the Sex Olympics” and “Greenland” exhibiting the sort of fractured avant-pop smarts that made UK DIY darlings of the HOMOSEXUALS and SWELL MAPS, but things really get interesting with the arrival of a primitive drum machine in 1980, guiding the DISCO ZOMBIES to sparse art-punk glory with “Mary Millington” and “Here Comes the Buts”—think a more sardonic, Messthetics-ready take on WIRE circa 154. Worth shaking off any lingering archival punk fatigue if you missed this the first go-round.