Pop Rivets

Fun in the U.K.

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Idiosyncratic punk poet/painter/philosopher Billy Childish began his prolific rock & roll career with 1977 first-wavers the Pop Rivets, and Fun in the U.K. compiles tracks drawn from that combo's handful of LP and EP releases. Childish has always worn his influences on his sleeve proudly, but thanks to an innate integrity and lyrical talent, he never comes off as merely derivative of heroes like the Sonics, the Downliners Sect, or the Kinks. The Pop Rivets display the same tendencies, though in these tender years, the giants were the Clash, the Sex Pistols, and the London scene that grew around them. As a result, there are familiar textures within the grooves, but the Pop Rivets substitute exuberance for sheer rage and exhibit a taste for pop music's past that contradicts the "Year Zero" mentality of their contemporaries. The anthemic title track is preceded with a bit of verse from Childish that acknowledges the progression of pop from the Beatles to its present day rebellion; the couplet is repeated in "Beatle Boots," which makes the point more literally. The sounds alternate between thrashy workouts ("Pins & Needles," "Kray Twins") and smoother power pop ("Going Nowhere," "Lambretta Vespacoota"), but Childish barks every number with the same hoarse urgency. With its frantic pace and rubbery riffing, "Skip off School" could be the Damned (they even nick a bit of "Love Song" during the guitar solo), but with such a chest-swelling, fist-pumping chorus chant, it takes on a life of its own and stands out as the set's highlight. Fun in the U.K. finds Childish emerging fully formed at age 19, already penning great rock & roll songs with the zeal of a true lifer, though his later bands, like Thee Mighty Caesars and Thee Headcoats, would drop some of the overt 1977 punk stylings in favor of greasier, meatier influences.

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