Various Artists

Newbury Comics: The Early Years, Vol. 1

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One of the oddities of New England is that the best regional record store chain has the word "Comics" in its name, but not "Music." However, to its devotees, Newbury Comics is so revered that they can call themselves whatever they want. The first punk and new wave-identified record store in Boston, now with outlets all over New England, Newbury Comics opened in 1978, concurrent with the first flowering of Boston's fertile post-punk music scene, which remained viable well into the '90s. Unfortunately, however, the first volume of Newbury Comics' 25th anniversary series ignores homegrown talent entirely, instead featuring 18 post-punk and new wave classics from the vaults of EMI and its associated labels. And even then, there are too few surprises. Though few can argue about the merits of songs like Iggy Pop's "Lust For Life," the Vapors' "Turning Japanese," or Wall of Voodoo's "Mexican Radio," it's the rare new wave compilation that doesn't contain at least one of the three. A few more (relatively) obscure choices along the lines of the Bad Brains classic "The Big Takeover," and the Cramps' sexy, swampabilly groove "Goo Goo Muck" would have added greatly to the surprise and delight of this fine but workmanlike collection. Even better would have been a proper Boston scene comp with tracks by the Girls, Mission of Burma, Robin Lane and the Chartbusters, Uzi, and Human Sexual Response, among others. Maybe for Volume Two.

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