Various Artists

Postpunk Chronicles: Going Underground

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For the most part, Going Underground is a coronation of the guitar in the post-punk ethic. With a couple exceptions -- like Throbbing Gristle -- this volume in the Postpunk Chronicles series demonstrates the fusion of distortion and power with rediscovered pop melody. A dollop or two of romantic angst doesn't hurt either. A handful of punk and alternative's most important all-time artists show up here, such as the Smiths, Sonic Youth, Gang of Four, Pere Ubu, and the Jam; much of the second tier is represented as well. Highlights are all over the map: the Smiths' still-rousing "What Difference Does It Make?," troubadour Billy Bragg's wistful "A New England," and two of nihilism's all-time greatest hits, the Soft Boys' "I Wanna Destroy You" and Pere Ubu's "Final Solution." The "title track" from the Jam closes the set as both an epitaph and a hint of where this music was largely headed: to the American underground, until bands like Nirvana proclaimed its importance to a wider audience.

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