Various Artists

The Very Best of Punk & Disorderly

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In the early '80s, three compilations in the Punk & Disorderly series appeared, comprised mostly though not exclusively of British bands who were part of punk's drift toward hardcore. This is a two-CD, 40-song anthology of tracks from those albums, mixing pretty well-known punk acts of the era (Vice Squad, Peter & the Test Tube Babies, G.B.H., U.K. Subs, the Dead Kennedys, Channel 3) with a host of bands who might not be instantly recalled, even by regular readers of Maximum Rock'n'Roll. As a memento of a certain phase in punk's history, it's representative and energetic. Musically it's flawed, mostly because of a trait that's been commented on by countless reviewers mainstream and underground, but remains true: the lack of variety and frequent lack of melody. At the same time it's rather more interesting than most old-school punk and hardcore of subsequent years because of a fresher and generally more upbeat execution. For such loud and fast music, though, it gets boring over such a long stretch. More female vocalists, which are rarely heard on these tracks (Vice Squad being a notable exception), would have helped make this genre more palatable and increased its outreach; so would even a modestly inventive riff or chord sequence here and there, as you hear on the Dark's "The Masque." The liner notes are sketchy, but do include 2002 "where are they now?" updates on many of the bands. There's also a bonus enhanced-video track of Peter & the Test Tube Babies doing "Moped Lads" live in 1983.

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