A stunning 22-track survey of all that made Abrasive Wheels such a crucial part of the early-'80s British punk scene, Riot City (named for the label that they helped personify) rampages through the first 12 months of the band's two-album/three-year career, picking up primal album cuts and key singles. Their debut LP, When the Punks Go Marching In, of course, is here in its entirety, but collectors will be more intrigued by the opening tracks, rounding up the rest of the Wheels' Riot City catalog in strict order of release. This means that the January 1982 Vicious Circle EP opens the set, with the earlier, self-released The Army Song set not appearing until four songs in -- it was reissued on Riot City in March 1982. The "Burn 'Em Down"/"Urban Rebels" pairing completes the preamble, while the LP versions of earlier songs "Vicious Circle," "Voice of Youth," and "Attack" allow the listener to see at a glance just how quickly the Wheels were turning. This set would later be superseded by Captain Oi's ultra-methodical approach to the same material but, upon release, it reminded everyone just what a magnificent band this was.
Riot City Review
by Dave Thompson