Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Passion Killers "They kill our passion with their hate and wars" Lp 2010
Last week, I posted an utterly terrible reissue and emphasized its many flaws (I'm still thinking about its qualities to be honest). Today, however, I am going to talk about a top notch reissue, a record that is not only great music-wise but exemplifies how it should be done: with love, care, fun and snot. When I hold such records in my dirty hands, I realize how much I love punk-rock, how worthy it is and how tedious and miserable a punkless life would be. Call me a soft bastard but I am almost getting emotional.
Where "Oi! Sound of UK" (the name makes me cringe each time I type it) was a stale, passionless, heartless object, this Passion Killers record contains everything you need to know, not only about the recording and its creative context, but also about the band, its history and the scene it grew out of. Passion Killers is a little-known band that might have sunk into total obscurity if it were not for its strong Chumbawamba connections. In fact, it would be irrelevant to talk about PK without talking about Chumba. There is a brilliantly written history of the band in the thick booklet but let me give you a little information for the laziest ones among you.
Although very connected to Leeds, PK were actually from Barsnley, a Yorkshire town located between Sheffield and Leeds (that makes one dream, doesn't it?). You could say that PK was something of a Northern small-town punk band, a condition that often proved to create great punk bands in England. I am not sure why they picked such a moniker though. It may have sounded like a great idea at the time, back when the lads were 16. But anyway, if there is one band you must not judge on the name it chose, it is the Passion Killers (and while you're at it, try to ignore the broken heart on the cover as well). But back to the history of the band. Influenced by the motivations and DIY ethos of Crass and the first "Bullshit Detector" compilation, PK sent their demo to Crass and the song "Start again" ended up on the second volume, alongside bands such as Omega Tribe, Anthrax, Naked and... Chumbawamba. After the release of "Bullshit Detector Two", the people from Chumba wrote a letter to all the bands included on the compilation in order to strengthen the DIY network (or something). PK actually replied and they lived happily everafter.
Throughout their rather short career, PK sort of moved to Leeds, where Chumbawamba lived and were extremely active in anarcho squat scene, and they started to gig together regularly. In fact, they even released a split demo tape entitled "Be happy, despite it all", which saw PK using a more folk music-oriented sound (whether it was intentional or because they couldn't afford proper instruments, I am not sure). At some point, Mave from PK moved back to Barsnley in order to achieve some mischievous political activities (you know, the miners' strike and all that) which pretty much marked the end of the band. Fortunately for all music-lovers, they managed to record a demo, originally entitled "Motion... yet motionless", released in 1983 on a tiny DIY tape distro called Peaceville Records and reissued in 2010 on vinyl. Mave and Daz moved back to Leeds and ended up joining Chumbawamba, hence some vocal similarities between both bands and, I like to believe, their distinct pop sensibility as well, because, if anything, Passion Killers was an anarcho pop-punk band (I know it sounds terrible but it is literally true).
If you like Chumba's poppy punk but always found that they experimented too much with instruments, paces and genres (that's called being original apparently), then Passion Killers is for you. If you like the first wave of punk-rock, back when singers actually sang but always found the lyrics and the cocky behaviour a bit insulting to your intelligence, then Passion Killers is for you. If you love Naked, Toxik Ephex, Omega Tribe, Instigators, Shrapnel and you have a soft spot for Beat music, although you would never ever admit it, then Passion Killers is for you and you are my new best mate. Take the most tuneful, genuine, heartfelt, passionate (easy one) side of first-wave punk-rock, dip it in the anarchopunk scene for the anger and relevance and add some unashamed Beat music sensibility to the mix (yes, I mean Gerry and the bloody Pacemakers or Herman's fucking Hermits). That's Passion Killers. Sounds terrible? Wait until you listen to it. Every single song is an absolute hit and will stick in your head not for hours or days, no, they will stick for months, years, they will haunt you till the day you die for your greatest pleasure.
As if the music was not such a treat in itself already, there is a thick booklet packed with pictures, gig posters, flyers (Passion Killers got to play with The Mob, Lost Cherrees, Systematic Annex, Fallout, Anathema, Karma Sutra...), interviews, band history, drawings and, of course, lyrics about the indoctrination in the capitalist system, coppers and how our own lives belong to us not them. Naive maybe, sloppily played at times but undeniably genuine and heartfelt (and a bonus, you've got a proper Yorkshire accent). You can hear the passion (I know, I know), the love and the frustration in these beautiful songs. The booklet looks brilliant and is obviously a labour of love, just like the other Demo Tapes releases (A Touch of Hysteria, The Mental, Solvent Abuse, Violent Uprising and Blyth Power, all signs of a great taste if you ask me). For some reason, it has been a few years since the last Demo Tapes release (I had read rumours about upcoming Alien Kulture and Warwound reissues but that was a while ago) but I sincerely hope that the hard bloke behind it has not given up. I very much doubt he takes request but Systematic Annex and Awake Mankind would deserve the great Demo Tapes treatment. The world must know about them.
As a conclusion, if you ever come across this baby on a distro, do yourself a favour and get it. That is not optional but mandatory.