Race Against Time: The Complete Clay Recordings

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G.B.H. (formerly known as Charged G.B.H., named after British police shorthand for "charged with grievous bodily harm") is one of the longest-lived punk bands in English history, grandfathers of the Oi! movement and perhaps England's most direct sonic precursors to American hardcore. Unlike some previous collections with similar titles, this three-disc set actually does bring together all of the recordings the fledgling band made for the scrappy indie label Clay Records in the late '70s and early '80s. Even at their earliest and rawest (and make no mistake: early on they were quite raw), these recordings reveal a band that has its grimy paws firmly clasped on a great sound, a blend of the punk rock that had quickly flowered and was already fading and the sharp metal attack that had never really gone out of style. Motörhead had been doing this kind of thing better than G.B.H. for several years already, but they had come at it from a different angle: the metal/biker scene. G.B.H. were street urchins, and their sound was correspondingly thinner, sharper, and snottier. Discs one and two bring together the 50 tracks (both albums and singles) that G.B.H. recorded for Clay during this period, and the third disc seems to document a live set from 1989 -- though the liner notes are shamefully inadequate and offer little more than a quick, potted band history rather than much in the way of useful information about the recordings themselves. Best taken in measured doses, this is still some of the sharpest and most exciting punk rock from what can now be viewed as that music's British heyday. Recommended.

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