Friday, January 22, 2010

Album Review: Various Artists- Messthetics: #107 D.I.Y '78-81 London III

Wow. Just bloody wow. Those thoughts entered my mind more times than I can count while I listened to this compilation. And really there is no better way to describe it. This a true testament to everything independent, D.I.Y., and post-punk music stands for, and I can't believe I just discovered these CDs now.

Messthetic is a CD series started by Hyped 2 Death records, with this series attempting to collect and compile the thousands of singles, LPs, and cassettes released in the UK between 1978 to 1981 with each volume being dedicated to a certain section of the UK, this one the third dedicated to London. Working perfectly in the CD format, this obviously is a true act of musical love. The label heard probably spent months tracking down all these release that about 500 people probably knew about, tops. Heck, they even pull out live recordings for bands that probably played less than 6 shows. And it's not just find these releases and bringing them to light that's so impressive. The thick liner notes give detailed accounts of every band. Interviews are conducted with old band members, how they were connected to the scene, where they are now, and even photos of the bands have been managed to be pulled up, along with pictures of the long forgotten releases. One of the best parts of these liner notes is actually a history of Dining Out records, one of the first D.I.Y. record labels that was started by and helped members of the London scene. Really engrossing stuff for a music nerd like myself, and it is an extremely well written snap shot of the scene.

This comp. would not work if the music on it was bad, and thankfully almost everything on this release is a lost gem rediscovered. these were the band's opening for the Desperate Bicycles and Young Marble Giants. They had absolutely no outside influences beside themselves and the other scenesters, and as such every element of lo-fi or weirdness is proudly incorporated in the mix. Jelly Babies' "Roller Skate" is pure 77 Talking Head nervous energy sped up to 45. Six Minute War's "Weatherman " is a great guitar driven synth-pop track. Demon Preacher's "Royal Northern" is pure post-punk greatness, akin to Mission of Burma at their catchiest. Methodisha Tune come off as bored or sparse Beatles, and that is meant in a good way. Multiple horns pop up from Stepping Talk, 49 Americans, and Occult Chemistry with varying degrees of success, but still are very neat. Flags preview no wave, while the songs Steppers and Jangletties have are just plain super catchy post-punk meets slight new wave tunes for the ages. 49 Americans have a song based on Newton's Laws and experiment with every instrument under the sun on another. While not everything works, Pattern's "The Bishop" a self-indulged, free-form, nonsense piece that had to be edited down for the comp, still manages to add to the feel and warmth of the CD. Every element and subgenre of post-punk, both in style and lyrics, is represented here and it is just great. This is what every music nerd hopes find under their Christmas' tree, and I can't wait to see the next volume.


Note: If you wish to contribute knowledge of or were in a forgotten '78-'81 D.I.Y band, and which to contribute to a forthcoming volume, contact

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