The Punk Singles Collection: 1977-1980

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A 21-track collection highlighting what surely ranks among the most refreshingly pure-sounding catalogs in British punk history, Punk Singles Collection: 1977-1980 rounds up the first four years of 999 history with a survey of every A- and B-side they released during that spell as spread across four different labels: their own Labritian, the majors UA and Polydor, and the post-Stiff maverick Radar. It's an eye-opening gathering. Although 999's reputation (at least at the time) was of a decidedly non-punky R&B band togging up in the latest fashion then cranking up their pub rock to mach ten standards, early 45s "I'm Alive," "Nasty Nasty," "Homicide," and most of all "Emergency" have taken on a classic aura that simply oozes period spit and vinegar. Equally rewarding, the B-sides are all cut from precisely the same cloth, meaning the first two-thirds of Punk Singles Collection: 1977-1980 races by in a blur of bondage pants, safety pins, and whatever other accoutrements you may require. Later 999 efforts lost something of that early adrenalin, but still it's hard not to execute at least a partial pogo as "Found out Too Late" and "Trouble" get underway. Add Captain Oi!'s traditionally excellent packaging and a booklet stuffed with envy-making picture sleeves and even if you already own the band's regular albums, this set is well worth investigating.

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