Since today is my birthday, I have decided to make this post special by selecting a... picture disc! Now, I know many of us hate them for several reasons. First, the sound is not quite as good on a picture disc as on a regular record. Second, they are seen as being an unnecessary and even tasteless waste of coloured vinyl. I don't really enjoy them myself but I do have a soft spot for this one and needless to say that its fantastic line-up is no coincidence.
This compilation is entitled "Punk riot" which is either the greatest or the cheesiest name ever (the two don't have to be mutually exclusive actually). It was released on Fight 45 records in 2000, a Parisian label created by people from Obnoxious (and later on, Disgusted), a 90's hardcore punk band that would have sat comfortably on this record. Fight 45 also released records from Nervous Tension, Truth Decay and Oi Polloi but I don't think the label is still active.
"Punk riot" epitomized the old saying "all killers, no fillers" and one glance at the tracklist is more than enough to convince anyone: Oi Polloi, Varukers, Disorder, Substandard, Detestation, Truth Decay, Mass Murderers, Riot/Clone and Beergut 100. As you can see, this is very much a 90's British hardcore-punk compilation - Detestation and Mass Murderers being the exceptions here - and "Punk riot" could be a perfect introduction to the genre for someone who is clueless about it (the poor sod).
The first side opens with "Guilty" by Oi Polloi, one of their very best songs recorded in 1994, about the double standards class justice and how being poor and angry can get you in a lot of trouble while the rich can count on their chums in court to get them out of it. This is fast and angry Oi Polloi, a band that, for some unfathomable reasons, is quite well-known and respected but is also underappreciated and overlooked by the "cool kids". Is it because the "wrong kind of punks" is into Oi Polloi? Or is it just because they didn't split up after just one Lp and one Ep and thus don't deserve cult status? Who knows... What I do know, is that their first two Ep's ("Resist the atomic menace" and "Outrage"), their side of the split with Toxik Ephex and the "In defence of our Earth" Lp are definitive metallic anarchopunk classics akin to Anti-System, Pro Patria Mori, early Sacrilege and AOA. There is another Polloi song on the B side, "We must combat", a metallic number about sexism.
Beergut 100 also have two songs on "Punk riot": "Warmonger" and "Fist full of copper". They were a pretty straight-up hardcore punk band from Scotland, fairly typical of the 90's. Fast songs with anthemic singalongs as chorus, not unlike late Varukers. Beergut 100 did one album, from which their songs are taken, before some members started the better and heavier Social Insecurity, who would give way to Afterbirth after its demise.
I already did an epic post about Substandard so I am not going to rave about them again. The two songs on this compilation are "Discount" and "Shit head", two absolute scorchers. In my opinion, Substandard were one of the very best UK bands of their time: they managed to take the Antisect/Anti-System's style, speed it up a bit and keep the anger and intensity all the way. Great, great band.
Truth Decay were another English punk band from the 90's, and while not as fast as Beergut 100, they were still very much in the same vein. Hard-hitting punk-rock, like a modern version of the Exploited or One Way System. For some reason, Truth Decay, though quite representative of the 90's wave, strike me as being a bit too generic for their own good. But then, their two songs, "Countdown 98" and "Race riot", a DOA cover, may just be just a notch below the other bands of this compilation.
I have always loved Riot/Clone. They remained true to their anarchopunk ideals and to their old-school punk-rock background. Their last album, "Success", is worthy of your attention and I would definitely recommend it to anyone into genuine punk-rock with guts and soul. The two songs on "Punk riot" are two of their best: "Chumbawanka" and "One less parasite" recorded in the late 90's. "Chumbawanka" was taken from the anti-Chumba compilation Ep that also featured Oi Polloi and the Bus Station Loonies and illustrated in a somewhat straight-forward fashion what Riot/Clone thought of Chumba signing to EMI. "One less parasite" was originally found the "Aftermath" compilation. These two songs are classic Riot/Clone: super aggressive and snotty vocals, thick guitars and mid-paced punk-rock. Funnily enough, the vocal style of the singer, Dave Floyd, happened to be a great influence on Quorthon from Bathory, though I doubt it is something mister Floyd boast about.
Mass Murderers are often seen as one of the best hardcore punk bands of the 90's in France and incidentally they reformed only a few months ago. Located in Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, the band toured the UK in the mid-90's, a sensible move as they seemed to have been heavily into that sound. Mass Murderers were probably a little more metallic than their British counterparts but they fortunately never fell for the metalcore genre (I would tend to think they are much too punk for that). Take classic bands like One Way System or English Dogs and mix it up with some Kuru or Maggot Slayer Overdrive and you'll get an idea. Mass Murderers were a crushingly powerful band and one of the very few French ones who could do that genre as well as the Brits. The two songs of the compilation are "Drive me sick" and "Dirty money", both from their 97 Lp "DRIP".
Do I really need to introduce Disorder? Probably not. The two songs here are "Free society" and "Anti-social reject" from their late 90's "Sliced punx on meat hooks" era, although the versions included on "Punk riot" are not the same as the Lp's. Indeed, they are much rawer and distorted and could have easily been lifted from "Under the scalpel blade". There is no information about the recordings on the compilation but they could be live or rehearsal versions. Whatever the nature of these songs is, they are excellent and everything you expect from Disorder, that is to say an unhealthy amount of snottiness, contempt for society, manic yells and distoted guitars.
The Varukers also have their two songs on this one and again, I don't think they need much introduction on my part. Judging from the recent reissues, it seems there is renewed interest in the band, something I can only applaude as they were one of the first bands I got really into as a teenager. The two tracks here are "Fuck you up" and "What are you gonna do?" from their 1998 "Murder" Lp which is the best thing they recorded in the 90's (in fact, I would argue they haven't done anything better since despite the overall quality of their subsequent records). At that time, the line-up included Kieran from the Restarts on bass guitar and Kev from Cerebral Fix on drums. The songs could summarize what 90's UK punk was all about. Still bollox but still here indeed.
Finally, Portland's Detestation have the one song, "Think it through". Detestation were the follow-up of Masskontroll and were probably renowned for having an excellent and instantly recognizable female singer. Although the band is often wrongly described as "crust" (but really, anything remotely noisy can be tagged as such these days), they played fast and pummelling hardcore-punk with a thrash influence, like Crude SS meet Potential Threat. The song's recording is quite rough so I am guessing it might be a live or a demo version. Anyway, though one would not necessarily think of Detestation in the same light as all the aforementioned bands, they fit just fine on this compilation.
Aesthetically speaking, the picture disc is well-done, with the drawing of a studded punk on the one side and pictures of the bands included on the other. The perfect Christmas present for your nephew who is just getting into Green Day.