Various Artists

United Kingdom of Punk, Vol. 2

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Volume one was great; volume two is even better! Like the first, United Kingdom 2 is the exception to the rule of late-'70s, classic Brit-punk comps: It mingles a few lesser-known (but great) groups such as Manchester's the Nosebleeds (their classic Rabid Records single, "I Ain't Been to Music School," with its manic and torching guitar from future Durutti Column maestro Vini Reilly) and lesser-known singles such as the Fall's "The Man Whose Head Expanded" with the acknowledged heavyweights. And more importantly, when this sampler rounds up the usual suspects such as the Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks, and Damned, it again carefully selects unknown, hot demo versions and live blitzings of such bombshells as (in order) "Problems," "Fast Cars," and "Love Song." Further, this is no low-rent, cheapo, make-a-buck fleece-'em job. These 16 tracks all rate. Considering it was just about their first gig, hear how gloriously pummeling the Adverts are from early 1977 at the storied Roxy club on "One Chord Wonders!" Ditto the little-known (and a little sludgy) demo of X-Ray Spex' gleeful "The Day the World Turned Dayglo," much more ornery and less streamlined (if more in tatters) than the later single and Germ Free Adolescents winner. And tell me, where did they get this rare demo of the Ruts' "Something That I Said," their phenomenal 1979 U.K. number 29 hit, again more rough around the edges but still loud and proud? Holy smokes. Elsewhere, 999, Slaughter & the Dogs, U.K. Subs, Sham 69, Lurkers, Chelsea, Bow Wow Wow, and even silly Sid Vicious similarly burn their way through your cranium with nary a "dodgy bootleg"-quality quibble. This CD is a true treat for the novice and veteran convert alike.

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