Monday, June 11, 2007

Various Artists - DIY: The Modern World: UK Punk II (1977-78)

Year: 1993
Genre: UK Punk

NOTE: After I complete a run through of the alphabet each month I will cover a couple of miscellaneous categories. I will write-up one various artists compilation and one film soundtrack.

These days, with their massive box sets, Rhino is a major compilation label but back in the early 90's they put out mostly classical music. They were just getting started dipping their toes into the modern music compilation game. The DIY series was one of their first. It focused on the geographic centers of street level rock music of the 70's and 80's. I love this series because it is great source material for the classic LA/NY/UK punk arguments.

This is the second of two entries in the series that highlights punk from the UK. For those familiar with UK punk there aren't a lot of surprises here other than what bands were left out because of licensing costs. However, the exclusion of some of the genre heavy-weights (like The Clash and The Damned) left room for the inclusion of some of the scene's smaller acts (like The Rezillos or 999). This creates an unusual track list that makes this compilation a fun listen for both punk neophytes and seasoned scene veterans.

This particular entry in the DIY series revisits the UK punk scene by focusing on some of the fringe acts and finds the scene about to split into various subgenres. The beginnings of the Oi!, post-punk, and gothic movements are all hinted at here by the inclusion of acts like Sham 69, Magazine, and Siouxsie & The Banshees among others. There are plenty of classic punk rockers here as well with some staples by The Buzzcocks, Stiff Little Fingers, and The Jam. This is a very well balanced mix of music that shows at least some thought was put into the song order (unlike some other punk compilations).

While my unabashed worship of the music here makes it impossible for me to pick out just a handful of highlight tracks - one real highlight I can point out is the compilation's excellent liner notes. The text follows the second half of 70's UK punk by briefly introducing each band and explaining their place in the punk universe. The text is accompanied by some great B&W photos of the bands in their prime.

For the uninitiated DIY: The Modern World is a great (if slightly skewed) introduction to this amazing music scene. For old hands like myself it makes for a really fun playlist of punk favorites that is better than your run-of-the-mill compilation.

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