Punk Rock Collection - London

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Punk Rock Collection - London

Punk Rock - StudioRecording - 1 CD(s) - Label: Captain Oi! Records, Captain Oi - Distributor: Plastic Head, Plastic Head; Captain Oi - Released: 03/11...

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Review of "Punk Rock Collection - London"

published 11/04/2010 | JOHNV
Member since : 13/07/2000
Reviews : 886
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About me :
2000-2015, 886 reviews. Thanks all - it was fun while it lasted, but nothing lasts forever.
Excellent
Pro Excellent, very underrated punk and new wave band
Cons None
very helpful
Originality
Quality and consistency of tracks
Cover / Inlay Design and Content
Value for Money
Lyrics

"The sound of the city - from the City (and everyone's a winner)"

London in a grave situation, 1977.  Steve Voice and Riff Regan, on the left, reformed the band in 2007

London in a grave situation, 1977. Steve Voice and Riff Regan, on the left, reformed the band in 2007

London

For every punk and new wave band which made headlines (and the Top 20) in 1977, there were several that never quite made the bright lights. One outfit that deserved far, far better was London.

Formed at the end of 1976 in - well, London, actually - was one such group. They consisted of vocalist Riff Regan, bassist/vocalist Steve Voice, guitarist Dave Wight, and ex-Clash drummer Jon Moss. After a nationwide tour supporting the Stranglers they went on the road as the headline attraction, made two singles and a 4-track EP which nudged the lower reaches of the Top 50 without quite making it. By the end of 1977 their album 'Animal Games' was ready for release. But lack of major success and funds, coupled with Moss's decision to join the Damned (he later joined Culture Club too) , left them disinclined to carry on.

Goodbye London - for thirty years. Regan opted for a solo career, then under his real name of Miles Tredinnick went into writing for stage and TV. But in 2007 he and Voice recruited two new members, Hugh O'Donnell (guitar, vocals) and Colin Watterston (drums) and they have been gigging ever since.

Some ten years before that, by which time the original vinyls had become collectable and were changing hands for astonishing sums, Captain Oi! records did us all a favour and issued the entire back catalogue on this CD. So yes, once again you can get into London.

Let me put my head above the parapet and say that musically they had just as much energy and passion as the Pistols and the Clash. (Heather McCartney once named them as one of her favourite bands, so I'm not alone). Regan had a voice that hovered menacingly between David Bowie, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople and Johnny Rotten, while Voice's bass and Wight's guitar could hold their own against any of their peers, and Moss sure gave those skins and cymbals a mighty good hammering. Add to that a quiverful of (mostly) short, punchy, hook-laden songs - and you wonder why oh why those singles never flew out of the shops at the time.

The music

Fifteen tracks make up this collection. Two are the same song - the first of their singles, 'Everyone's a Winner' (not to be confused with Hot Chocolate's near-contemporary chartbuster 'Every 1's a Winner') appears twice, with minor differences in the vocals on the single and album version. Only one track, the much-covered 'Friday On My Mind', was not written by them. All four members had a hand in writing the others, Regan getting the lion's share.

Doing a full track-by-track review is probably pointless, so I'll confine myself to the highlights. The opener, 'No Time', kicks off proceedings in a blaze of glory. A really strong hook and sense of urgency made this one of their most popular numbers on stage. It puts me in mind a little of the Rods' top tenner hit from the same time, 'Do Anything You Wanna Do'.

'Everyone's a Winner' is a wonderful rabble-rouser, with a maniacal laugh at the start and a short burst of heavy echo on the vocals later on. "Everyone's a winner, everyone's a golden wonder for you-ou." Now if only Golden Wonder Crisps had wanted something for a TV ad in 1977, it could have been huge.

'Summer of Love', at four and a half minutes one of the longest tracks, is a tad slower. It starts off with a few seconds of ersatz heavy metal guitar, before cruising into a searing rocker about the summer of love in 1977 - or was it 1967 - or any of the years in between? Hell, who cares. Suffice to say that Regan's tonsils are working overtime on this one, and the other guys are playing like there was no tomorrow.

'Animal Games', the final single and also the title track of their sole album, released early in 1978 just after they split, is quite adventurous. A slightly funky bassline, with some interesting guitar work which varies from a searing solo at one point to a few restrained notes with plenty of echo, this is another of the four-minutes-plus numbers. If only somebody had added keyboards, it could almost pass for something by the Stranglers.

'Friday On My Mind' was originally a hit for the Easybeats in 1966, and several others have had a crack at it since then. But in London's hands, this wonderful blast of power pop takes on a new sense of urgency.

I could go on at length about all the shorter, fast'n'furious stuff, like 'Swinging London', 'Handcuffed', 'Us Kids Cold', 'Young', 'Speed Speed'. Just take it from me, they should all be played loud, and they still bite just as hard as they ever did. You may not find them on every 'Best Punk Album in the World...Ever!' compilation currently available at a high street near you, but take a listen, and you'll find enough raw energy, hooks, and more than a hint of genuine musical ability proving that there was enough potential below the surface to let them develop in further directions, if only they had stayed together long enough for a second album.
The packaging

A good selection of photos, artwork from the original album, repros of the original picture sleeves, biographical note and discography, is ample proof of the care with which this set was put together. Like many collectors' items, you're unlikely to find it on the high street, so surf around. Go on, click on Amazon, you know it makes sense...

Enjoy - and then try and see them live if you can!


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Comments on this review

  • silverstreak published 25/05/2010
    I'm afraid they passed me by, too.
  • happysh2009 published 27/04/2010
    Great review.xx
  • catsholiday published 25/04/2010
    Very interesting review of a band I knew nothing about
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Product Information : Punk Rock Collection - London

Manufacturer's product description

Punk Rock - StudioRecording - 1 CD(s) - Label: Captain Oi! Records, Captain Oi - Distributor: Plastic Head, Plastic Head; Captain Oi - Released: 03/11/1997 - 5032556107723

Product Details

EAN: 5032556107723

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