Cortinas

Punk Rock Anthology

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While the Cortinas had released a handful of fiery punk singles, many listeners' first introduction to them was on the low-priced compilation album Permanent Wave alongside bands such as the Only Ones, After the Fire, Masterswitch, and the Spikes. The song in question, "Heartache," was a delicious slice of rock & roll with new wave attitude, but worlds away from the punk tag that had been thrown at them just a year or so before. Only upon discovering the "Fascist Dictator" single would one realize that the Cortinas had changed considerably from their indie punk singles and their 1978 major-label debut album, True Romances (from which "Heartache" was taken). While their early fans were thrown off by the band's cleaner, "wimpier" sound on True Romances, those who heard the album first were less impressed by the vaguely melodic and rough early singles. Then again, there are those who enthusiastically embraced both sides of the band. For whatever reason, the Cortinas refused to remain a one-dimensional punk band, and lost fans in the process of becoming a major-label new wave act. In the end, it didn't matter, because the band split up around the time of the album's release. In hindsight, the band's early punk outings were perfect little slices of aggression, but they already seemed confined by punk's limitations. The True Romances album expanded the Cortinas' sound and allowed more space for the band to create little slices of sharp British pop. Not exactly power pop, the album is filled with memorable tracks that may not have changed the world, but they certainly deserved much more attention than they actually got. The Punk Rock Anthology tells the Cortinas' whole musical story, beginning with their punk singles, adding some Peel Sessions recordings, and then concluding with the entire True Romances album (and a single edit of "Heartache"). It's a fascinating and fun journey in the very short life of a young British band that came, saw, and almost conquered.

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