Various Artists

The Indie Scene 1981: The Story of British Independent Music

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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman

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. Indie Scene 1981 features the most disparate clutch of songs in the series, veering from the twee electro of Young Marble Giants' "Clicktalk" to the post-punk funk of Pigbag's "Papa's Got a Brand New Pigbag" to the maniacal swamp strut of the Birthday Party's "Release the Bats" and the Cramps' "Goo Muck." Even ultra-obscure one-release wonders like 4AD's the Past Seven Days ("Rain Dance") are represented with their sullen, minimalist take on the angular rhythms of post-punk, as are Medium Medium, the Au Pairs, and Wire. (If you're thinking, "Wait! Wire were on a major and obviously not independent," you'd be right, but the clever folks who assembled the series recalled a one-off EP they released on Rough Trade.) Other inclusions come from the Virgin Prunes ("In the Grey Light"), Virna Lindt ("Attention Stockholm"), A Flock of Seagulls ("It's Not Me Talking"), 999 ("Little Red Riding Hood"), Southern Death Cult ("Fatman"), the Higsons ("I Don't Want to Live with Monkeys"), and the dB's ("Big Brown Eyes").

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Department S 03:06 Amazon
2 Pigbag 03:39 Amazon
3 Higsons 02:03 Amazon
4 Hazel O'Connor 03:09 Amazon
5 Toyah 03:08 Amazon
6 Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin 03:47 Amazon
7
Virna Lindt 03:50 Amazon
8 Aztec Camera 05:45 Amazon
9
Young Marble Giants 02:41 Amazon
10 The dB's 01:58 Amazon
11 Medium Medium 03:55 Amazon
12 Southern Death Cult 03:44 Amazon
13 The Birthday Party 02:30 Amazon
14 The Cramps 03:01 Amazon
15 999 02:49 Amazon
16 The Au Pairs 02:54 Amazon
17
Dead or Alive 04:26 Amazon
18 A Flock of Seagulls 03:31 Amazon
19 Wire 03:30 Amazon
20 Clock DVA 03:52 Amazon
21
Virgin Prunes 04:18 Amazon
22
The Past Seven Days 06:02 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick