Action Time Vision: A Story of UK Independent Punk 1976-1979 (Cherry Red Records)
A Boxset You Should (100%) Buy
At the heart of this blog is my love for Punk Rock music. The first post I ever wrote here was about my favorite band "The Clash" and the first-ever comment was from Keith Levene of early Clash and Public Image Ltd. fame.
You can only imagine how happy I was when Cherry Red Records released their massive 111 track box set: Action Time Vision: A Story of UK Independent Punk 1976-1979.
Action Time Vision represents a collection of early songs from several of the bands loved for decades by Punk fans all over the world. Bands whose names are justifiably burned into the punk and post-punk memory like Adam and the Ants, Joy Division, The Fall, U.K. Subs, Stiff Little Fingers, The Damned, and the Tubeway Army.
All of these rare songs by these classic punk artists is really great to hear, but they are not really all of what the box set is about. As Kris Needs of Zigzag records (and the singer of the Punk supergroup "The Vice Cream") put it, "they wanted to pull up the pavement and see what was going on underneath street level," during this seminal period.
In this way, even more than connecting us to a few rare classics by the bands we already know, Action Time Vision is a living artifact of all the great music that maybe we didn't hear or might have forgotten about. Songs from bands like the all-music journalist punk band "The Sniveling Shits' or from Pure Hell one of the first (if not the first) all-black punk bands in Pure Hell (Detroit's Death may have come first although they could be considered proto-punk).
Action Time Vision also reminds us that Punk was never as monolithic as the purist hipsters would like everyone to believe that it was (a point I have tried to explain many times before, perhaps most memorably in my response to a troll-job by the LA Weekly early last year).
It also reminds us that Punk was a reaction to Rock's many excesses of the time culminating, as Needs' reminds us in sometimes absurdist fashion in the liner notes (and that is another great thing about the box set is the extensive liner notes...oh how I miss liner notes).
But Action Time Vision is also a journey of discovery, a kind of an ancestry.com for UK punk and post-punk music to come.
Things You Can Learn From Liner Notes
Here are just some of the amazing things I learned from reading the liner notes (and from listening to) "Action Time Vision."
* Miles Copeland soon to be poobah at IRS records and brother of Stewart Copeland (drummer for the Police) was a major figure in early punk. If I am understanding things correctly, he allowed a few key people, like Mark Perry (of ATV and Sniffin Glue) to run the punk sublabel STIFF without much interference
* John Callis was in the Rezillos, he later was one of the members of Human League during their classic period (Dare, Hysteria)
* The song Mucky Pup by Puncture was the first single from the "Small Wonder" label that later launched The Cure and Bauhaus
* The Sniveling Shits was a band made up mostly of music journalists. That by itself is pretty cool
* The Vacant's featured Martin Chambers on drums (He would go on to be the drummer for The Pretenders)
* The Killjoys were an early home for Dexys Midnight Runners Kevin Rowland
* Lockjaw featured Simon Gallop who would later be in The Cure
* Neon Heart featured Paul Raven who would later be in Killing Joke and Ministry
* Billy Bragg got his start in a band called Riff Raff
* Demon Preacher featured Nik. E. Wade who would later become Nik Fiend of Alien Sex Fiend
* Skids included Stuart Adamson who would later form Big Country
* The Nipple Erectors had a young Shane MacGowan (Shane O' Hooligan) as their singer (later he would be the front man for The Pogues)
* Angelic Upstarts had a song called "The Murder of Liddie Towers" that would fit right in at Black Lives Matters rallies (and I mean that in the best possible way).
* King of Kings featured Jim Walker, later to play in Public Image Ltd.
In other words, if you are interested in Punk History, this box set isn't just an amazing 4 discs of music, it is also a veritable treasure trove of information.
And trust me, there is a TON of great music on ATV too.
Explore, Enjoy, and Share New Music!
Since the very beginning, my blog has is about punk.
Even the television shows I pick to recap all have something about them that challenges the dominant order and destabilizes dominant narratives (even The Flash although I started writing about The Flash to criticize its participation in the dominant order).
I don't like shows that make hegemony seamless and I don't like music that tranquilizes the masses and seems empty and hollow at the core.
When I was growing up, the only way we could find and hear the music we loved was by digging, reading zines, and most important sharing with each other.
I find it so strange that now that everything is available within a few clicks people are more willing than ever to let conventional tastes dominate the music conversation. Punk started as a reaction to the excess of Rock and Roll in the 1970's. I am hoping many of you will get a taste of the same revolutionary spirit that had me and my friends flipping off people who loved "Yes" or "Chicago" and instead gravitating towards the stripped down urban roots music of bands like The Clash or Ramones.
A good deal of the spirit that inspired me to love this music in the first place can be found on the four discs of Action Time Vision. I hope you find your own revolution somewhere inside these 4 discs too.
Thanks to Matt and everyone else at Cherry Red Records for sharing this incredible gift with me and with all other Punk fans.
And, as always...Explore, Enjoy, and Share Music!