The Connoisseur Collection's ten-volume Indie Scene: The Story of British Independent Music series maps the shift from punk to post-punk and new wave in the U.K. from 1977 to 1986. Focusing on artists who were on fledgling independent labels and thus digging up plenty of otherwise forgotten chips from the late-'70s/early-'80s fireball, each volume contains plenty enough for voracious neophytes to sink their teeth into. And if you were a scenester back then and need to relive the glory of all those singles your mom threw out while you were at your umpteenth punk festival, these compilations should plug some gaps. Like the other five volumes in the series, Indie Scene 1980 features well-known bands of the time like Joy Division (the burbling Krautrock drive of "These Days"), Echo & the Bunnymen ("Pictures on My Wall"), Bauhaus ("Dark Entries"), and the Dead Kennedys (the lone American entry with "California Über Alles"). Others, while not as well recognized, are just as key to the compilation's quality. Wah!'s "Seven Minutes to Midnight" is the Liverpool group's finest moment, a gnashing romp of barely controlled frenzy. Swell Maps' "Let's Build a Car" is a gnashing romp of uncontrolled frenzy but certainly isn't any less riveting. The Associates' "The Affectionate Punch" shows the Scottish duo in one of its earlier moments, demonstrating that -- as with the pair's prime influences, David Bowie and Roxy Music -- flash and substance can go hand in hand. Other contributions come from German electro-industrial pioneers D.A.F. ("Kebabtraume"), the early Modern English ("Gathering Dust"), the Fall ("Totally Wired"), Holly & the Italians ("Tell That Girl to Shut Up"), Simply Red precursors the Frantic Elevators ("You Know What You Told Me"), and the rather laughable Dead or Alive precursors Nightmares in Wax ("Birth of a Nation").
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman