V/A – Strength Thru Unity: A Conne Island Benefit 2xLP (Unity Worldwide)

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If the only constant thing in life is change, Conne Island in Leipzig, Germany might just be the exception to the rule. For the past 30+ years, Conne Island has been a home-from-home for punks, hardcore kids, skaters and assorted other misfits who don’t fit in. Personally I’ve lost count of the number of times I visited to catch some amazing bands and have a big night out with Billy, Gag and the Connewitz crew.

Of course, Corona came and did its thing, and put the livelihoods of everyone involved in the artistic industries in trouble, and so people have had to get creative. For Conne Island, it was quite simple – look at the list of bands that have played in the past, and see what tunes they might be able to contribute to a deluxe benefit compilation. Put it this way – I don’t think they really needed to knock twice to get a resounding “yes – how can we help?”

Let’s start with the hometown heroes – Full Speed Ahead. Their song “Good Night White Pride” could serve as an anthem for both the club and the neighbourhood of Connewitz. Great to see these dudes on board the compilation. Also close to home there are contributions from the likes of Heaven Shall Burn, Terrorgruppe and Beatsteaks. Hopefully you’re starting to see a pattern of a nice varied playlist…

Conne Island was one of the “must-do” stop-offs on many European tours from the US hardcore greats and so you have contributions from bands such as Sick Of It All, Youth Of Today (“No More” – recorded live at Conne Island), Grey Area, Vision, SFA, Boy Sets Fire and Up Front (again both with live recordings from Leipzig). Old transforms into new and so you have bands like Be Well, Freewill, Field Day and Winds Of Promise continuing to build on the legacy.

Once the hardcore crew has done their thing, the punks take over, with Cock Sparrer, Perkele, Lion’s Law and Turbostaat leading the charge.

And there you have it, 33 songs that celebrate more than just a club or a city, but a lifestyle that is alive and kicking. Hats off to Conne Island. Tom Chapman

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