Starting with the proto-punk bands who came across Europe in the early '70s and ending with the last death throws of the genre's first incarnation in the early '80s, this is an excellent collection of classic punk music from a European point of view. The first disc concentrates on Europe's first exposure to the genre, beginning with the sloppy ...
Starting with the proto-punk bands who came across Europe in the early '70s and ending with the last death throws of the genre's first incarnation in the early '80s, this is an excellent collection of classic punk music from a European point of view. The first disc concentrates on Europe's first exposure to the genre, beginning with the sloppy rave-ups of the New York Dolls and Iggy Pop. The disc then moves on to the genre's biggest names in mid-'70s Britain, including the Clash, the Sex Pistols, the Damned, the Buzzcocks, Generation X, Sham 69, the UK Subs, and many others. These artists are some of the most important in the evolution of the genre, and the songs chosen for each band are appropriate considering how hard it must be to just pick one song from these artists. Elvis Costello and the Heartbreakers (performing the original version of the Ramones' "Chinese Rocks") are two of the American representatives on the first disc, which also reflects how many of the influential New York and Los Angeles punk bands did not make a big effect on the overseas scene. On disc two, the album looks at many different sides of the genre after the first initial wave. The various Sex Pistols aftermath bands and associates are represented, including the Rich Kids, Public Image Ltd., Siouxsie & the Banshees, and Sid Vicious himself. Blondie chimes in on behalf of the New York scene, while the Dead Kennedys represent the West Coast. Finally, the disc also includes several excellent songs from the beginning periods of XTC, Killing Joke, Wire, and the Jam. This was possibly the hottest period for European punk -- it paved the way for countless other bands and many of the artists represented remained very influential figures in the music world. By the third disc, the offshoots of punk become quite obvious. No longer concerned with keeping the sound, the genre split into a million directions. Power pop (the Only Ones), goth rock (Lords of the New Church), cheeky sleaze metal (the Runaways), proto-synth pop (Devo), political pop/rock (Nick Lowe), and many other genres came from the ideas and attitudes of the original punk scene. And it is on this disc that the Ramones finally show up, albeit on the subpar "Pet Semetary." For them to be represented by one of their least-important efforts is a definite disappointment, especially considering the incredible wealth of material that could have been chosen from their first ten years. By the fourth disc, hardcore had invaded Europe and bands like the Anti-Nowhere League, the Exploited, and Discharge were twisting it into Oi! and minimalist metal with an anger rarely expressed so honestly by bands on that side of the ocean. Also included are dub reggae punkers the Slits performing "Typical Girls," an excellent example of how the two genres once worked together. This is a fantastic album filled with some of the most important bands and songs to affect punk rock. Many of the songs are recognizable tracks from bands who may have only had one or two singles that mattered, and these songs are equally as welcome. The album's quality is very subjective; most of the songs are very important to the genre, but may sound dated or poor because of shifting tastes and an overabundance of similar material. And to leave off Television, Richard Hell, Patti Smith, the Germs, Black Flag, and many others seems like a oversight despite their lessened impact in Europe. But there is enough great stuff here to overlook the obvious flaws and omissions and just enjoy a lush history of the genre in its prime years. ~ Bradley Torreano, Rovi