If the Adicts have any single, overriding virtue, it's their sheer persistence. Formed in 1979 and hovering on the verge of a big step forward for much of the next eight years, the group never succeeded in raising themselves above the club circuit either in Europe or elsewhere, never found themselves graduating from a superstar's support band to superstars in their own right, and never scored the effortless sequence of hits that other bands half their age and ability used to muster. But the Adicts march on regardless, with regular new releases matching their back catalog classics, backed up every step by a devoted cult following for whom the boys in bowler-hats can truly do no wrong. Recorded just a few years beyond the outset of that journey, Joker in the Pack recounts two vintage Adicts shows that have since passed into legend. The first, Up Yer Tower, was recorded in 1982 at that year's Blackpool Punk Festival, an event that celebrated the mere five-year anniversary of the genre's national birth. It's a raw and grainy performance, filmed on a single VHS video camera, and a far cry from the polished madness that was the band's studio work of the time. But the 11 songs capture all the mayhem of an Adicts show, with an audience still in the first flush of punkish youth and the band reveling amid the interactivity that was the key to all their best shows. The second performance dates from just a year later, a show at the Manhattan Club. Again, the visual quality leaves something to be desired, with attempts at digitally enhancing the image not necessarily improving the actual picture. But it sounds good and, again, simply the chance to see the Adicts in their prime is enough to overcome any aesthetic failings the presentation may have. Certainly the group's live repertoire is as good as it ever got, with the duplication of five songs from the Blackpool unnoticed amid the joys of "Smart Alex," "Who Spilt My Beer," and "Bad Boy." Actual bonuses there are none, but the Manhattan Club show is followed by a pair of promo clips originally released on the UK/DK punk/Oi! compilation and a further vivid recapitulation of the riotous glee that was the Adicts' way of life. As if by now you needed to be reminded of that.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson