Red Flag '77

Stop the World

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Red Flag '77 have done the impossible, not only did they Stop the World, they even turned back the calendar, albeit perhaps a year or so later than 1977. To call this band retro is really a misnomer, for they're not just influenced by the past, they're actively re-creating it in all it's glory. So much so, that one could easily mistake this album for a reissue of yet another unearthed nugget from Britain's most fiery years. Hey, didn't Flag play with the U.K. Subs at the Bridgehouse back in the day? Didn't they open for Sham 69? Nope, but they could have, if only they'd been around 13 years earlier. But since their formation in 1990, the Ipswich group have been kicking out street punk, flying the flag of anthemic hardcore, while barely dipping their banner into the modern age. This set showcases them at their best, across a dozen of their own sharp compositions and one equally good Clash cover. Red Flag's sound is a seething amalgamation of everything that fired the second-half of the '70s -- Sham 69's fist in the air, singalong styling, the Ramones sheer abandon, the Sex Pistols ferocity, then slamming in the likes of the Rezillos, the Lurkers, Slaughter & the Dogs, the Clash of course, and, on "Something to Say," the Ruts into their irrepressible mix. In its pre-Oi! phase, hardcore hammered home the melodies, and Red Flag lets fly with unforgettable ones, then drill home even more powerful hooks for the shout-along choruses. It's a formula that never dies, because it can't be beat, and Red Flag have it down to a truly fine art. Delivering up their numbers faster and a far sight tighter than their progenitors is their one concession to contemporary climes, and thus opens the door for the acceptance within the new-school punk scene. Even so, their slash and burn riffs, simple chord structures, and fire and fly guitar solos keeps their sound true to the '70s. Reliving the past, Red Flag keep punk's flame burning strong.

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