Monday, January 14, 2008

Review: Various Artists - Vancouver Complication

Label: Sudden Death Records

Released: 2007

Sudden Death Records has re-issued the classic 1979 compilation that served as a state of the union for the early Vancouver punk scene. The Vancouver Complication is as much an historical document as it is a great punk album. In addition to the first rumblings from now legendary politico-punks DOA and the Subhumans, there are many other gems from the days when, as the liner notes put it, "D-I-Y was really a matter of having to D-I-G." In addition to the original 21 tracks, Sudden Death has included five bonus tracks and in true punk fashion, it still clocks in under one hour.

One of the things that's really amazing in retrospect is how different all these bands sound. From the raw melodies of Shades and Pointed Sticks to the cold, angular Devo-influenced pop of Exxotone to the pre-hardcore of the Dishrags, it's clear that the scene was still in its nascent creative period. You can even hear the T Rex influence on No Fun. At that point, punk was more of an ethos than a sound and these bands shared a common interest in living differently while bringing a tremendous variety of musical influences to the scene. It seems odd today in an era when punk rock is as pigeonholed as even the most commercial genres. The squalor described in the notes certainly makes it seem as though these weren't the "good ol' days," but they must have been fascinating beyond most of our imaginations.

Being a faithful history, the CD comes with reproductions of the original artwork for each band, handwritten or typed, cut out and pasted together the way it was done before Myspace. It also contains some enlightening liner notes that dig into what it was look in the days before punk was cool.

Rating: 8/10

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