Compilation CD for mental health charity Mind

Top Of The Punks

Through a friend of mine in the burgeoning South Coast Punk scene, I was made aware of a charity Punk compilation LP being put together to raise vital funds for the charity Mind. Is this just another excuse for a load of Punk unknowns to get the odd track out there to boost their few record sales one might ask? Well no actually! There are 16 tracks on offer here and there’s a good mix of what I would deem to be “Premier League” Punk bands and “the new breed”, mixed in with some League 1 level Punk bands (to shamelessly use a football analogy)! And so Ladies and Gents please be upstanding for Top of The Punks. 16 tracks of varying Punk styles from a wide cross section of the genre. There are bands here we are all familiar with, rubbing shoulders with bands I frankly had never heard of-until now.

Top Of The Punks

So, who is on the disc you ask? Track 1 is a live edit from SLF. “My Dark Places” seems a great place to start considering Jake Burns own history with depression. But don’t for one minute think this is a collection full of doom and gloom.

Angelic Upstarts are next with a great song entitled “King Of The Rats” – anthemic and singalong.

Apple Shift Seven sing about “Bloodsuckers 11” and immediately I’m reminded of early Blur, (the similarities end there)! Imagine Buzzcocks fronted by “Modern Life Is Rubbish-era” Damon Albarn and your still only halfway there! In-yer-face vocals, angrily delivered over a frenetic beat and some ‘experimental’ chord changes. At barely 93 seconds it has that classic Punk staple of being short and sharp and leaving you begging for more.

Subculture come next, with a sprinkling of Reggae/Dub with “Hark Hark”, such a simple song but placed perfectly at track 4 to bring the tempo down, before it speeds up somewhat! I could name a number of bands they may have taken influence from but I will leave that to you the listener. I simply love the barking dogs at the end!

5 Go Mad are ironically positioned at Track 5 with “Madness”, for me their best song yet. Putting any South Coast bias to one side they have really upped their game on this track. Vocally the lyrics are delivered in that 90mph style they have perfected of late, this is uk82 Punk with humour. There is absolutely no let-up throughout and I look forward to hearing it during their upcoming Rebellion performance.

Track 6 comes from “Wreck//Age” and immediately I’m reminded of early Kennedy’s “Two Minutes” is immediate with a shout-along chorus. Those clangy guitars compliment the cymbal-led drumming and thumping bass in the background which just melds the song together perfectly. And the sharp finish I love.

Knock Off I discovered last year at Rebellion, a 3 chord “Pub/Punk” at its finest. Snarly vocals and a clunky bass throughout, matched by ferocious hitting. “Round and Round” may not be the most inspiring of titles but you’ll be singing along to it after just two plays-guaranteed!

Born to Destruct are new to me but not out of place here. “We Bring the Noise”, simple really, and that they certainly do! With a vocal not unlike Jim Brooks (The Ejected) they deliver a harsh and hard brand of snare-driven Punk. Again it’s anthemic and hard to ignore that chorus.

The 2nd live track on here features none other than Belfast’s The Defects and “Traffic Island Castaway”. Incredibly I only discovered them live last year at Rebellion-it was an experience that stayed with me, they are my new fave Punk band. This is a fine track, sing along and anthemic.

RT Zed again is new to me, but it’s another great song from a relative unknown (to my ears). Oh, the power of Facebook-a quick search and I discover it’s the brainchild of one Steve Grantley (SLF) among others! I thought the production sounded rather professional! Powerful drums, (I expected nothing less)-matched to some noodly guitars in places and a confident vocal.

The Filaments are next and immediately I’m reminded of Melbourne Punks The Living End. “Statistic” is hard and fast, delivered at breakneck speed. Noodly guitars, big, big hitting and an honest heartfelt vocal that literally smacks you in the face! Hazard I recently saw live in a most under attended gig in my hometown. I was immediately drawn to their Clash-like onstage persona, notably in vocalist Connor. “Redeploy” owes a huge debt to the Subs, the vocal itself is Charlie’esque. Hazard is a band who know their history and take snippets to add to their own makeup. My only gripe would be song length, however, I love the ending.

Wake The City freshen things up a little with a sprinkle of Pop/Punk/Rock in the shape of “Friend Zone”. Female-fronted and unashamedly in-yer-face vocally on this song, matched with some snare-heavy drumming and noodly guitars. Vocalist ‘Derryn’ sounds like she takes no prisoners.

UK Vomit present “Veto”, a song chock full of swear words and delivered with a humorous elegance! It’s Pub/Punk again but the lyrics are clear and audible, while the rat-a-tat drumming compliments the noodly guitars.

Spring Park offers another sprinkling of Pop/Punk with a generous nod to the past. “Dark Side” has elements of 1st wave Punk and Pop/Punk. Lots of “Woah’s” and a strong drumbeat, allied to a clear audible vocal. The affectionately monikered Jonny and The Mental Breakdowns close this collection with a feel good song and a call to arms saying “Let’s Raise A Beer”. It’s a singalong song with a big heart and is the perfect finale. Its influences are steeped in the USA and bands like Rancid and the Dropkicks.

I have to admit this collection of songs has been on permanent rotation in my car this past month, such is the quality of the songs. With only a 400 pressing I doubt the organisers will have any problem shifting the lot. And if this is the quality of the product on offer then I wouldn’t be surprised to see Volume 2 appear in the not too distant future. Whenever there’s a charity record to be made there’s always one genre we can rely on to get involved-long may that continue. At £10 a pop that’s four grand into the coffers at Mind, by my maths. The production is very good and the artwork is excellent. I’m reliably informed that the songs are now available on I-tunes, so if you have a few quid to spare then you could do a lot worse than buying these 16 tracks and helping a very worthwhile charity. But don’t take my word for it, go have a listen and make that all important purchase yourselves.

Top Of The Punks

Track Listing
01 – Stiff Little Fingers – “My Dark Places – Live”
02 – Angelic Upstarts – “King Of The Rats”
03 – Apple Shift Seven – “Bloodsuckers II”
04 – Subculture – “Hark Hark”
05 – 5 GO MAD – “Madness”
06 – Wreck-Age – “Two Minutes”
07 – Knock Off – “Round And Round”
08 – Born To Destruct – “We Bring The Noise”
09 – The Defects – “Traffic Island Castaway – Live”
10 – RT-Zed – “Get What You Want”
11 – The Filaments – “Statistic”
12 – Hazard – “Redeploy”
13 – Wake The City – “Friend Zone”
14 – UK Vomit – “Veto”
15 – Spring Park – “Dark Side”
16 – Jonny & The Mental Breakdowns – “Let’s Raise A Beer”


Review by Ross A. Ferrone.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to MySpace