I’m not one of those punk purists who blather on about the whole seventy six / seven wave of punk rock bands that popularised the American born* genre of music in the UK. I couldn’t care less about the Sex Pistols, don’t give a damn about the Damned, couldn’t spot Chelsea in a police line-up and never really cared for Siouxsie and the Banshees. In fact, for me there’s only a handful of pre ‘85 UK punk bands that matter, that I regularly listen to and have been a fan of since I first stumbled across punk rock more than three decades ago.
And boys and girls, those bands are, in no specific order, The Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, UK Subs, the Ruts, Discharge and of course, GBH – or as they were originally known Charged G.B.H.. So, it was kind of fortunate that this box set found its way to my review pile, as, like I’ve already said, I’ve got a bit of a glue addled soft spot for the spiky headed miscreants from the Midlands and after a particualry difficult week, listening to 1981 -1984 put a stupidly wide grin on my face and a pogo-like bounce back in my step .
Collecting GBH’s first twelve inch EP, Leather, Bristles, Studs and Acne , their first two albums City Baby Attacked By Rats and City Baby’s Revenge and the live record No Survivors (which was recorded in 1983 even though it was originally released until 1989) 1981 -1984 is a fast, furious, loud, energetic and catchier than the measles at the annual general meeting of the Anti-Vaccination brigade and their tin foil hat wearing lunatic members snapshot of one of the UK’s best and longest reigning punk bands at the absolute height of their powers. And even though some of the lyrical subjects of their songs (ahem, Big Women, ahem) haven’t aged particularly well, they’re still punchy enough musically to fuel pits the world over. Accompanied by a twenty page booklet that documents, in words and pictures, the three year period that the box set covers, 1981 – 1984 is pretty much essential** for any and all discerning punk rockers. Tim Cundle
*It’s true. It was born in New York City. Just ask the Ramones, the Dead Boys, the New York Dolls and all of the cats and bands who used to frequent Max’s Kansas City from ’72 onward.
** Unless you’ve already own the albums included in this box set. Which let’s face it, there’s a pretty good chance you do if you’re reading this.