Various Artists

Boycott Radical Records

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1970s punk rock may be nothing more than a fond (or painful) memory to most, but to New York's Radical Records label it's still a stock in trade. Devoted to punk, ska, and Oi! (a particularly beery brand of British punk), the label has released fine albums by the likes of Blanks 77, the Agents, Road Rage, and Sturgeon General. This 25-track compilation provides an excellent overview of the Radical catalog, with several tracks each from the aforementioned bands as well as contributions from I.C.U., the Booked, the Cuffs, and Inspector 7. Blanks 77 are the cream of New York's Oi! crop, and their "I Wanna Be a Punk" starts the program off with the perfect combination of spit and distortion. Inspector 7's "Quick Work" is a very nice homage to the 2-Tone ska sound, while the Agents' approach to ska is a bit more rockish. One of the most musically impressive tracks here is from a Utah ska band called Sturgeon General; on "Live the Life" they fly through a surprisingly complicated and refined arrangement that lurches from a dueling banjos opening to high-octane ska, and then into loping reggae and back. But the best moments on this album are provided by Road Rage, an Oi! band that actually comes by its British accent honestly and pins your ears back with "Drying Out Day," "Borderline," and "When We Were the Boys." Excellent.

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