The import-only EMI release The Crack/Grin and Bear It includes the Ruts' resonant 1979 album The Crack in its entirety as well as Grin and Bear It, which Virgin released at the time as an odds 'n' sods affair. The latter album includes the band's last single with vocalist Malcolm Owen, "West One (Shine on Me)," and six additional studio tracks as well as live versions of "S.U.S.," "Babylon's Burning," and "Society." The Ruts are often overshadowed by their peers in the Clash and the Sex Pistols. This is due in part to their dissolution in the wake of Owen's untimely death from heroin abuse. But like Gang of Four -- another group that has lived on as a considerable influence despite limited output/life -- the Ruts' visceral patchwork of punk fury, reggae, and dub rhythms and Owen's own distinctive vocal style would influence a host of later groups, from Fugazi to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and mark the group as one of the most important forces to rise out of British punk's second wave. Anthems like "In a Rut," "Something That I Said," and "H-Eyes" still kick with electricity 20-plus years on, while earthy reggae workouts like "Love in Vain" and the incredible "Jah War" still coast along effortlessly, unencumbered by their forward-thinking political baggage. This particular Ruts retrospective includes an informative, heartfelt liner essay from Alan Parker.
AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus