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").
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman