Various Artists - Action Time Vision: A Story of Independent UK Punk 1976 - 1979 - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Various Artists - Action Time Vision: A Story of Independent UK Punk 1976 - 1979

by Rob Taylor Rating:7 Release Date:2016-12-09

The point of Cherry Red's Action Time Vision: A Story of Independent UK Punk 1976-1979 is not to contend that unearthed punk gold sits in the vaults of the independents. It endeavours to lift the paver-stones a little, and reveal a bit more underground. More than we already know. An underground to an extent unfairly neglected, and to an extent justifiably trashed.

Some of the artists appearing here went on to better things, others faded into obscurity. Those falling into the latter category didn’t necessarily lack talent. More often than not they simply timed their run too late, or unwittingly attracted the ire of a music press with fickle views of the punk aesthetic. Some just got carried away by the expression of social unrest, and simply didn’t have a plan. Just a drug habit.

I had to laugh for instance at the fate of the band, The Vacants whose track ‘Worthless Trash’ was marketed as “This is Punk Rock” in the UK and the U.S.A, but ‘Worthless Trash” in Australia.  They failed. No-one likes anyone punk who purports to define a genre, but worthless trash was the completely alternate view.  

To be honest, Action Time Vision should, on paper, be a dubious project but actually there’s a good deal of excellent music on the offering.  

Amongst the more obvious inclusions like The Damned’ seminal track  ‘New Rose’, or Nicki Sudden’s The Swell Maps, or the enduring Stiff Little Fingers with their excellent track ‘Suspect Device’, and early tracks from Adam Ant and Joy Division, there’s some great, possibly lost music. Such as The Nipple Erectors fronted by Shane McGowan pre-Pogues with their rockabilly stomper ‘King of the Bop’, or the rough hewn rock n roll of The Angelic Upstarts complete with unexpectedly authentic guitar breaks. The shambolic entertainers, Menace, or the pissed-up and vomited out mess of the Bazoomis, low-fi and cheap as it gets.

For historians, it's interesting to note that Billy Bragg was the guitarist for Riff Raff, and that Mick Jones of The Clash, and the bass player from Generation X stepped in for the Vice Creems when music journalist, but then singer, Kris Needs lost half of his band before an expensive studio session. Why? Because their girlfriends wouldn’t release them! Kris Needs, in fact, writes the foreword for this box-set.  

Kirk Brandon of The Pack went on to establish Theatre of Hate, Kevin Rowlands of the Killjoys went on to front Dexys Midnight Runners, and four members of Johnny and the Self Abusers went on to establish Simple Minds.

Some didn’t abandon their names or bands. Gary Numan and the Tubeway Army, Adam Ant and Joy Division all embraced different aspects of the emergent new wave scene without even (completely) abandoning their template.

What ultimately makes this venture a success though, is that is dispenses with a generic view of punk-music, and celebrates instead punk-music in all its different guises. The groovy garage punk-rock of The Rezillos, the snotty, angry punk of the Eaters, the pop-punk of The Only Ones, the sassy and hyperactive horns of Neon Hearts, the proto-punks in thrall to the Pistols like The Snivelling Shits and Sham 69, power-poppers The Stoat (that sound like a gnarlier version of Big Star) and The Boys. New York Dolls copyists, The Hollywood Brats.

There’s a fair bit of agit-punk, some of which you wished you hadn’t heard.

It’s a lot to digest, too much really, but dipping in occasionally is thoroughly recommended.

Comments (2)

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You definitely have to listen to this one disc at a time. Cherry Red have released some great comps this year but I'm still working my way through the Shoegaze one!

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These compilations are perfect random shufflers. Trying to do it in one sitting, which I did, was pretty torrid.

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