Various Artists

Action Time Vision: A Story of Independent U.K. Punk 1976-1979

  • AllMusic Rating
    8
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

In the early years of the punk rock explosion of the '70s, the record industry didn't know what to make of the aggressive new sound. Punk certainly seemed like the coming thing, but no one seemed sure of how to sell music that was built around open disrespect for authority figures -- which in the eyes of the punks included the music industry. Thankfully, punk was born with a passionate desire to document itself, and if the major labels weren't going to put punk rock on records, the punks would do it themselves. No previous rock movement was more closely associated with independent labels and the D.I.Y. philosophy than punk, and countless indie labels were launched to commit fresh talent to vinyl. Action Time Vision: A Story of Independent U.K. Punk 1976-1979 is an exhaustive and wildly entertaining four-volume box set that examines both the indie label scene in the United Kingdom as well as the bands that emerged on homegrown labels. The set opens, fittingly enough, with "New Rose" by the Damned, widely acknowledged as the first British punk single and the release that turned Stiff Records into a going concern. Just as that record still sounds fresh and explosive four decades later, nearly all of the 111 songs on Action Time Vision are filled with energy, passion, and a sense of discovery, as the musicians strive to find their place in a new musical landscape and have fun doing it. This set is also a potent reminder that early punk was never as monochromatic as many liked to believe (or as samey as U.K. punk would become in the '80s). Along with the foursquare punk attack of the Lurkers, the Cortinas, Sham 69, and many others, there's the speeded-up pub rock of Fruit Eating Bears, the joyous power pop of the Stoat, the prog-inspired twists and turns of Psykik Voltz, the arty minimalism of English Subtitles, the psych-inspired surrealism of Victim, the edgy cool of the Flys, and the acoustic guitar in a bedsit parody/tribute of Patrik Fitzgerald. And while the set includes lots of familiar names, the compilers have included plenty of obscurities that often prove to be as satisfying as the best-known tracks, another reminder of how fertile this era truly was. (There are also a number of tracks from artists who would go on to greater fame in the future, such as Billy Bragg in Riff Raff, Kevin Rowland in the Killjoys, and Shane MacGowan in the Nipple Erectors.) The liner notes from Andy Davis are a great read, and an impressive history of the many bands and labels featured here. This is hardly the first or best study of the U.K. punk scene of the '70s, but Action Time Vision is an impressive tribute to the early stirrings of indie culture in England, and it's great listening throughout.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:44
2 2:04
3 1:52
4 2:37
5 2:36
6 2:29
7 2:38
8
999
2:33
9 2:47
10 1:42
11 2:05
12 2:56
13 2:21
14 2:18
15 2:36
16 2:05
17 2:41
18 1:51
19 1:59
20 3:05
21 2:47
22 1:35
23 2:40
24 1:51
25 2:58
26 2:16
27 2:54
28 2:33
29 3:58
30 3:10
31 2:19

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 1:29
2 2:40
3 2:32
4 3:11
5
3:18
6
V2
2:00
7
3:55
8 3:49
9 3:13
10 3:02
11
3:20
12 3:07
13 2:54
14
3:29
15 2:10
16 2:35
17 2:25
18 3:14
19 2:08
20 2:43
21 2:49
22 3:13
23 1:47
24 3:55
25 2:03
26 4:38
27 2:53

Track Listing - Disc 3

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:30
2 3:01
3 3:35
4 1:28
5 3:15
6 3:45
7 2:54
8 3:28
9 3:15
10 2:13
11 2:54
12 2:38
13 4:02
14 2:31
15 1:55
16 2:14
17 4:52
18 2:01
19 2:11
20 3:40
21 4:10
22 2:30
23 1:32
24 3:09
25 3:56
26 5:10

Track Listing - Disc 4

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:49
2 3:18
3 3:07
4 3:29
5 1:37
6 4:37
7 3:19
8 3:16
9 2:47
10
2:16
11 3:13
12 2:18
13
2:40
14 2:14
15 3:08
16 2:33
17 1:57
18 2:46
19 2:37
20
F-X
3:03
21 2:54
22 2:51
23 1:57
24 3:10
25 3:17
26 3:13
27 2:50
blue highlight denotes track pick