Various Artists

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

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

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

by Mark Deming

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

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 The Damned 02:44 Amazon
2 Eater 02:04 Amazon
3 The Radiators from Space 01:52 Amazon
4 The Cortinas 02:37 Amazon
5 The Drones 02:36 Amazon
6 Lurkers 02:29 Amazon
7 The Rezillos 02:38 Amazon
8 999 02:33 Amazon
9 Johnny Moped 02:47 Amazon
10 Sham 69 01:42 Amazon
11 Puncture 02:05 Amazon
12 The Snivelling Shits 02:56 Amazon
13 The Vacants 02:21 Amazon
14 The Zeros 02:18 Amazon
15 Maniacs 02:36 Amazon
16 The Outsiders 02:05 Amazon
17 The Killjoys 02:41 Amazon
18 Johnny & the Self Abusers 01:51 Amazon
19 The Unwanted 01:59 Amazon
20 Wasps 03:05 Amazon
21 The Pigs 02:47 Amazon
22 Lockjaw 01:35 Amazon
23 Neon Hearts 02:40 Amazon
24 The Jerks 01:51 Amazon
25 The Panik 02:58 Amazon
26 Some Chicken 02:16 Amazon
27 Carpettes 02:54 Amazon
28 The Flys 02:33 Amazon
29 Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoias 03:58 Amazon
30 The Only Ones 03:10 Amazon
31 The Suspects 02:19 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Swell Maps 01:29 Amazon
2 Patrik Fitzgerald 02:40 Amazon
3 The Boys 02:32 Amazon
4 The Stoat 03:11 Amazon
5
Acme Sewage Co. 03:18 Amazon
6 V2 02:00 Amazon
7
Bazoomis 03:55 Amazon
8 Raped 03:49 Amazon
9 Big G 03:13 Amazon
10 The Subs / U.K. Subs 03:02 Amazon
11
Tubeway Army 03:20 Amazon
12 Xtraverts 03:07 Amazon
13 Fruit Eating Bears 02:54 Amazon
14
Front / The Front 03:29 Amazon
15 Satan's Rats 02:10 Amazon
16 Stiff Little Fingers 02:35 Amazon
17 Menace 02:25 Amazon
18 The Dyaks 03:14 Amazon
19 Skids 02:08 Amazon
20 Rudi 02:43 Amazon
21 The Art Attacks 02:49 Amazon
22 Bears / The Bears 03:13 Amazon
23 O Level 01:47 Amazon
24 The Members 03:55 Amazon
25 Nipple Erectors 02:03 Amazon
26 Angelic Upstarts 04:38 Amazon
27 Mean Street 02:53 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Alternative TV 02:30 Amazon
2 Social Security 03:01 Amazon
3 Tights 03:35 Amazon
4 Riff Raff 01:28 Amazon
5 The Dole 03:15 Amazon
6 Joy Division 03:45 Amazon
7 Leyton Buzzards 02:54 Amazon
8 Demon Preacher 03:28 Amazon
9 Outcasts 03:15 Amazon
10 The Fall 02:13 Amazon
11 Chelsea 02:54 Amazon
12 Protex 02:38 Amazon
13 The Cravats 04:02 Amazon
14 Horrorcomic 02:31 Amazon
15 U.K. Subs 01:55 Amazon
16 Spizz Oil 02:14 Amazon
17 The Dodgems 04:52 Amazon
18 Users 02:01 Amazon
19 Peter & the Test Tube Babies 02:11 Amazon
20 Ruts 03:40 Amazon
21 Disco Zombies 04:10 Amazon
22 Nicky & The Dots 02:30 Amazon
23 The Shapes 01:32 Amazon
24 No Way 03:09 Amazon
25 The Wall 03:56 Amazon
26 Hollywood Brats 05:10 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Adam and the Ants 03:49 Amazon
2 Notsensibles 03:18 Amazon
3 The Vice Creems 03:07 Amazon
4 Murder The Disturbed 03:29 Amazon
5 Cockney Rejects 01:37 Amazon
6 Psykik Volts 04:37 Amazon
7 The Molesters 03:19 Amazon
8 Newtown Neurotics 03:16 Amazon
9 Pure Hell 02:47 Amazon
10
Fire Exit 02:16 Amazon
11 The Pack 03:13 Amazon
12 Steroid Kiddies 02:18 Amazon
13
English Subtitles 02:40 Amazon
14 Proles 02:14 Amazon
15 The Adicts 03:08 Amazon
16 The Dark 02:33 Amazon
17 Woody & The Splinters 01:57 Amazon
18 Victim 02:46 Amazon
19 The Xcerts 02:37 Amazon
20 F-X 03:03 Amazon
21 Rivals 02:54 Amazon
22 Silent Noise 02:51 Amazon
23 Vice Squad 01:57 Amazon
24 The Prefects 03:10 Amazon
25 The Licks 03:17 Amazon
26 The Fatal Microbes 03:13 Amazon
27 Poison Girls 02:50 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick