Poison Girls

Statement: The Complete Recordings 1977-1989

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A band like Poison Girls made one proud to be an underground rock connoisseur in the early '80s. Ahh, kiddos, remember when bands had a mandate to actually say something valuable, about life, or society, institutions, and class structures? Even though the anarcho-punk subgenre led by Crass and its label that Poison Girls recorded for was a mutant strain (even more ignored by the media than the punk revolution it spun off), it nevertheless had merit. This writer never circled an "A" for an arm-patch, and looked more to the better, more melodic Alternative TV, Wire, Adverts, Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, and Clash for terse social criticism. But the anarchists' rote intelligence, the fierce smashing of boundaries, preconceptions, and prejudices, and the dogged deconstruction of state control were fascinating. Sitting down with the lyric sheets penned by vivacious middle-aged frontwoman Vi Subversa for this four-CD box set brought it home again, that and the ensemble's subversive post-punk beating. Brilliant raw material such as "Persons Unknown" (from the split single with Crass' "Bloody Revolutions," a real mind-blowing 7") cunningly suggested that rock & roll could be a tool of thought and angry reason, rather than just what you've got in your pants. Just another reason to miss the spirit of those times in these more smug-ironic, iconic alterna-days.

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